Wednesday, March 21, 2018

2018 New Bedford Half Marathon- USATF-NE GP #1

My friend and teammate, Regina Loiacano, at the start of New Bedford.
Yet another week with another terrible race, but this time, I wasn't upset about it. Even though I ran it slower than last year, I realized at mile 2 that my effort wasn't even close to the pace I was running so I had 11.1 miles to get used to the idea and accept it. Haha. But seriously, I had no issues with this one. I came in with a very low goal (that I didn't even come close to haha) and really no expectations. It was my first longer road race in a REALLY long time (other than that 50K, but that was slow) so I'm looking at it as hopefully something I will improve upon. If not, well, then you'll get to look forward to MANY more whining posts about how much I suck. Haha.

Yep. Still going to talk about my intestinal problem. Haha. So it did NOT get better like I thought. In fact, it got much worse...until race day. Honestly, a huge sigh of relief there. I've never had to stop mid-race to use the bathroom, and I certainly didn't want New Bedford to be the first time. Haha. Seriously, for over 3 weeks I was in the bathroom no less than 7 times a day. More often it was 10. Sooo yeahhhh. Yikes. I didn't let on just how bad it was, but it has been BAD. I don't know how I got through Belleville or the snowshoe race either since I didn't make it through a single regular run in those 3 weeks without having to stop AT LEAST once. I was so nervous about going into NB with this, but I remembered on Saturday that I had eaten some Paleo banana bread I bought at the Local Grocer pre-snowshoe race. I didn't have issues during or after the race (I was in the bathroom 6 times pre-race, though, so who knows if it was that I had nothing left. Haha. TMI). So I decided to make some of my own. I have no idea if that helped or not, but I made it through New Bedford with only stomach sloshing and a lot of gurgling from mile 3 on but nothing more. And now one day later, I feel like it's turned a corner. But I just have to wait and see. It would be really nice to have my energy back and not be constantly dehydrated for the next two weeks before the GP race #2. I just wrote WAYYYY more about this than I planned on, but whatever, it's been a big deal the last 3 weeks. Haha.

So onto the week's running. An easier week with New Bedford looming in the air but still managed 51.6 miles. 1,936ft of elevation gain. No long runs and no workouts. Just mostly easy running. I think I'm becoming a challenge for my friend who's helping me out since I'm such a mess. He should fire me. ;) I always said I couldn't be coached because I would be fired, but I haven't been defiant at least so maybe he'll keep trying to work around all of my problems, my racing addiction and weird schedule. :)

Got an email/letter this week from the United States Snowshoe Association welcoming me to the 2018 US National Snowshoe Team. I purposely left this out in my last post because it's honestly not something I'm "proud" of at all. I only made the team because I'm a master. The top 3 masters make the team, as well as the top 5 that makes me 8th, aka last on the team. Whoop-di-do. My race sucked. I still don't even want my 3rd place masters medal. I don't feel deserving of being a part of the National team, but... after getting the letter, I'm thinking maybe I'll appreciate this next year (if I snowshoe race again). Maybe something cool will come out of it. It's not like I can take advantage of racing at Nationals or Worlds in 2019 since there's no funding for that, but maybe it will bring some local opportunity. Until then I'll try not to be such sour grapes about it. But seriously, don't congratulate me on it, please.

Monday, March 12, 2018- My first zero day in a long time. I was wrecked after the snowshoe race. I didn't regret it one bit. I did nothing all day. I didn't even walk. And I was perfectly happy with it.

Oh Mondays at work! I love you so much! So today's fun started first thing when I found someone's patient information from FRIDAY sitting in my truck. Muwahahahaha. The State Temsis report is required to be completed within 24 hours. We were going on maybe 60ish hours at this point. This was actually a good thing. Gave me some leverage to get shit brought up higher up in the company. I didn't know whose it was, but I held onto it all day until I had the fax machine space to myself. Since this is actually my job to work on compliance, billing would have expected me to handle it prior to it entering their hands. If I did that, however, they would never know anything was wrong, so instead, I sent it as anonymous fax to them first so they could document it and then send it back to me. 10 minutes later, I get the email. Haha. So, now, they know about it. My next step was to figure out who it belonged to. Did some digging and it was worse than I thought...heehee. Also a good thing. It belonged to an employee I'd never heard of. I'd never heard of him because his very first day, he was put on a truck without any training whatsoever. VERY FIRST DAY. This was excellent. Once I found that out, I was able to use our improper training of new employees as reason for billing delays. And the main thing the owner cares about? Getting his money. Fortunately, my connection in billing is really cool so I asked for this to be sent higher up in the chain. Hahaha. Well, it worked. On Friday at the company manager's meeting this was a hot topic and now four of us are meeting tomorrow to come up with a new training plan. One of those includes my manager, the one I had to go around to get anything done. I tried and I tried to get through to him, but he refused to do anything about it. (The last time this happened was when I got myself a raise in 2013; I had to go an alternative route to get it.) Not only did I make it clear that we needed trainees to have quality vs quantity training, I also demanded money for those of us training them. It's never been paid. EVER. And when I walked in this morning to yet another brand new person I absolutely refused to do the training. I was done. One of my coworkers walked out the week before because of it. Trainers will now be paid. You're welcome.

So anyway, that wasn't the only shady thing going on today at work, but it wasn't by me this time! I just knew about it. Haha. And really, I wasn't being shady. Neither was the way I got my "raise" in 2013. I tried all proper avenues with both and when those failed, well, I took a different approach. As an EMT here with this company, I'm completely expendable, but now that I work with billing, I've brought Temsis report compliance up to close to 99% for our division. I'm not so expendable anymore since that means more money coming in. The private ambulance service treats its employees pretty terribly across the board. It's not just my company; it's a National problem. It's a constant fight for raises, fair treatment, working equipment, supplies, etc.

So yeah, that was Monday morning. Haha. Only three calls. This would be my last day with Rob, my partner. I was really happy to finally see him get out of that hell hole. He will now be home 7 nights a week for the first time in 28 years. He started as an EMT in Lynn, Mass, worked his way up to a paramedic, all this time working on ambulances. He will finally have a normal schedule and be home with his wife and kids every night. Good for him. My only concern was who was going to be my new partner! Omg. This could be bad until I realized no one would want to work with me. Hahaha. My manager confirmed that they're all afraid of me. Haha. And they should be because they know they can't get away with not doing their job if they work with me. So now I'm working with my friend, Jen, on Mondays and Jeff on Wednesday. We are some of the very few holdouts here, and people I'm on the same page with. We've all worked together for years. So things will be good...just have to work on getting us raises next. Except I don't think hell is freezing over anytime soon.

For some reason I really loved this because it's so true. 
Tuesday, March 13, 2018- Dreaded looking out the window when I woke up at work. The next Nor'easter had been expected to start just after midnight. When I looked outside, I was like, "Huh?" No snow had fallen at all!! Omg. This was awesome! So I looked it up and saw it had stalled, but I only until right around 9am for it to start. EEK! If I hurried, I could get a run in outside!

This is what it looked like 10 minutes before I left work. Haha.
I hurried home, changed clothes and then rushed out the door for an out-and-back through Conway Village and up West Side and Passaconaway. The timing was perfect. Light flurries started in the last 2 miles. I actually felt decent for this. Just as I got home, John's dad was dropping him off so John and Phoenix ran the last .1 miles with me down the driveway. Haha. 10.1 miles total. 1:15:06. 7:23 avg pace.

I assumed that I would be stuck at home the rest of the day, but once I showered and realized it was still only light flurries, I decided to rush to the store and then to vote at the Albany Town Hall. I almost made it before the heavy stuff started, but it got me for the 2 mile drive home from the Town Hall. Haha. That would be the end of my driving until the next morning because the snow got heavier and heavier.

I had two people on back up to I thought. The first one never showed and as 4:30pm rolled around and 4inches of snow had fallen, I realized I had to shovel after all. It was 4 inches of fluff so it seemed easy at first....until it started falling harder and my snow mounds were so high that I had to lift my push shovel up and over them every time. I had no where else to push snow. It had to go over the top. I was exhausted an hour in. 2.5 hours later, I finished...only to get back down to the house to find 5 more inches of snow had fallen on what I had already shoveled. At that point, I was expecting possible 8-10 inches more. I couldn't do anymore. I was done. My strength was literally at its max. I couldn't lift snow any higher. So I quickly shoveled part of that section again and moved my car to the top of my driveway. Fuck anymore shoveling. I just had to hope I could find a plow for the next day while I was at work. Well, crazy enough, I ended up on the line just above the heaviest snowfall. It only snowed 3 more inches by morning. Wow. Just southeast of us got 24in in some parts. Huge sigh of relief.

This isn't so bad, I thought. haha.

Trying to show how high my snow piles were. 

Almost dark and just finished shoveling. You can't even tell. 
The storm meant ninja class was cancelled so we never went back out. John's school got cancelled for 2 days in a row since it never actually stopped snowing until Wednesday night.

Danced with Phoenix in the kitchen. Cabin fever. Haha.
More cabin fever. Haha. 
The song I was dancing with Phoenix to:

Wednesday, March 14, 2018- 4 slow miles on the treadmill before work. 31:27. 7:52 avg pace. Very quiet day at work with only one fire alarm for the whole 24 hours. Like I said before, it snowed all day long. It was light, though, so most of it didn't stick. I was really happy to hear from my backup plow guy who plowed my driveway today. Yay! He isn't just a plow guy, though. He's my friend and former partner at work, Sol, who was doing me a favor less than a week before going in for major surgery and treatment for cancer. Sol is in recovery from this major surgery as I write this! About 2.5 months ago, Sol had an emergency appendectomy. During what would have been a routine procedure, cancer was found in his appendix. I'd never heard of such a thing until now, and it turns out it's extremely rare and most often considered fatal. Amazingly, Maine Medical Center is one of about 100 hospitals in the US who was able to offer him the HIPEC procedure. Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy. This is a great story that explains it well: One Man's Desperate Quest for a Brutal Surgery. Sol's wife is keeping us updated throughout the day and it looks like the procedure went as planned which I'm really happy to hear. He's one of the kindest people I know here. In fact, I've always suspected he was the one who left me the the anonymous lawnmower. I'm hopeful he has a positive outcome from this.

Funny moment of the day. Receiving this fax from my manager...from the other room. Haha. Our cameras are bogus. Haha.

Thursday, March 15, 2018- I would normally have left work at 7am but after Tuesday's snowstorm ruined my plans to run dry trails in Mass for the second week in a row, I ended up staying at work another 10 hours. Jen had called out and the 7a-7p part of the shift still wasn't filled 20 minutes to 7am, so I offered to stay... but only until 5pm. I had to run. Haha. It ended up being a LONG 10 hours since we had zero calls. That meant 34 hours at work and only one fire alarm. Shoot me. I was SO bored by early afternoon. I paced the bay. I did an abs workout. Then finally I was able to go home. Yay! Run time!

Rt 16 was really busy so I decided to veer off my original plan to run into Conway Village and run up Bald Hill Rd. I'm always super stiff after working a 34 hour shift and this was no exception. Plus Bald Hill is a huge ass climb. Haha. So this run was slow. 6.6 miles in 54:44. 610ft of elevation gain. Felt good to get out and run after such a long shift.

Friday, March 16, 2018- I didn't sleep in since I had to get John up to his van stop for school. He had skiing that afternoon with his school so he can't carry all of that stuff through the woods. After I drove him up, I procrastinated awhile at the house and then drove over to Maine for another run on Haley Town Rd. Same run as last time. 8.1 miles in 1:01:24. 7:34 avg pace. Pretty easy pace for that run. The weather was beautiful and the road was quiet. Just like I like it.

Got my nails done after my run and then went home to pick up Phoenix for a walk on the Conway Rec Path. Such a gorgeous day for it. 2 miles total. Then it was off to Cranmore to pick up John. It was the last day of skiing for the season for him. Boo. I know he's going to miss it. Being the goofball he is, he decided to wear a costume for the last day.

Our walk along the Saco River

John's crazy costume haha
We didn't do much else that night. I got in an upper body and abs workout, but that was it.

Saturday, March 17, 2018- Another beautiful day...looking out from inside my warm house. Haha. Very beautiful out, but it was very cold. I waited a bit before I went for a run, but it was still really cold. I planned an out and back from home to somewhere on the Kanc, but when I passed the Albany Town Forest off the Kanc, I decided to make a mid-run change. I was wearing completely the wrong shoes to run on the snow. Brooks Pureflow 6. But I was able to run no problem, just a little slow. It was such a good decision. I've been missing the trails so much! 6 miles total. 51:50. 8:35 avg pace.

I let John do what he wanted for most of the day since it's our compromise when I drag him to races one day of the weekend. I did make him get out for about 1.5 miles back at the Albany Town Forest. He still needed some exercise, as well as the dogs.

Our walk

Looking back I should have rested more than I did today, but I decided to bake that paleo bread and then make dinner. I also got a fire going in the woodstove since it was so cold out. It saves on oil and actually makes the house warmer. I'm just so lazy when it comes to making fires. Haha. John joined Chill by the fire for a little bit. I'm not sure Chill was thrilled about this. Haha.

The ugly couch

I got everything packed for New Bedford then went to bed at a decent hour.

Sunday, March 18, 2018- This would be the first time that I'd driven all the way down from home the morning of this race. 3hours15minutes. Not horrible, but it was probably a little much before a half marathon. I always get there early since it can sometimes be a bit hectic. I planned to be there at 9am, but we got there at 8:45am. Haha. I was able to snag a parking place in the YMCA lot which made me feel better about leaving John in the car. He had the option of hanging out in the gym, but he was comfortable in the car with the dogs and 5 books that he brought. Haha. It was really nice not braving the crowd in the gym and then having some time to relax before my warmup. The drive is a bit tiring on my right leg since I don't have cruise control so I rested it for about 20 minutes before getting antsy and going out for a 2-mile run. First, I took both dogs out and told off the guy parked behind me who was giving me shit for leaving my dogs in the car. It was in the mid-20s, not the middle of summer. They were perfectly fine. Ugh. I started my 2 mile warm up but ran into E-J Hrynowski so I just walked a bit with him chatting. We talked to a local police officer doing a detail who had run his first half marathon here last year. Haha. Poor guy. He said it was so awful that he'll never do it again. Unfortunate to have last year's New Bedford as your first half.

I actually felt good on the 2 mile warm up. I had a lot of energy. I was surprised considering how drained I had been for 3 weeks. I thought maybe I would have a good day. My hamstring tendons were still bothering me, though, much like last year so that worried me a bit. Like I said before, I've had this for a year, but since the snowshoe race, they've been hurting more...just like last year. Ugh. I really think snowshoe racing caused it and now irritated it. I figured I could push through it, though. Well, at least I hoped. In the end, they did bother me for the entire race, but I really don't think they were my issue today as far as such a slow time. I know I posted something last year about my hamstring tendon issue, but here is another really good article explaining what I've been going through the last year. I basically should stop running to heal it, but I'm just not smart enough to yet. Haha. Most of it has been just a dull achy pain that hasn't affected me too much even though it's always there. A Pain in the Rear.

I went back to the car a bit to hang out with John then went back out for another mile. 30 minutes to race start when I was once again back out at the car. I dreaded ditching my warm clothes, but it had to be done, and, man, was that wind cold. I actually opted for standing in line for one more bathroom stop inside the gym just so I would stay warm while I waited. It was actually a quick moving line, and I found myself in the starting corral with 10 minutes to spare. I was COLD in there, but as people filed in ahead of me, the wind was blocked and it wasn't so bad. The last 3 years here, I've always lined up at the front in the women's start section, but this time, I didn't want to go out too fast and opted to start farther back. Regina joined me there so I had a pal. Not too many teammates there that I knew or even crossed paths with.

Once we started and I crossed the mat, the running began. I was happy with where I had started since I really didn't have to get around too many people. It was kind of the perfect spot. My pace felt pretty good, but I was a little surprised to see 6:20 on my watch. It felt faster than that. I thought that maybe the headwind was a factor or that maybe I was actually being smart...which isn't likely. Haha. A weird thing happened right at the beginning of mile 2 that I never felt the whole race. A very brief like muscle burning in both quads. It only lasted like 2 seconds, but it was that burning you get when your legs are fatigued. My quads definitely weren't fatigued so I don't really know what that was about, and it didn't happen again, but it kind of made me wonder if things weren't going to go right today. Well, it was confirmed when I saw my 2 mile split. I actually thought for a split second that my watch was broken. It couldn't be right. It just couldn't. I felt like I was running so much faster than 6:46. OMG. Ok. This wasn't going to go well. I knew it then. I had a little glimmer of hope I could pick it up after the hills in miles 3 and 4, but when I hit those hilly miles in 6:53 and 6:51, I knew any picking up of my pace was not going to be the pace I hoped for. So at this point I just accepted it. I really did. It just wasn't going to be my day. Every split was way off of feel. It was what it was. I let it go. I'm not sure why this was so easy for me to be accepting of it when I was blubbering a week ago over the snowshoe race, but it was. Maybe it's because I really don't like this race much. I don't know why. Something about it just doesn't appeal to me. Maybe it's partly the wind. I don't know. But I just stopped caring about how I was doing. I caught myself 3 times daydreaming, totally losing focus. My pace wasn't totally inconsistent, though. I just felt like I was out for a training run in a way even though I couldn't run faster. I just didn't feel like I was in a race.

I have to say that the weather was actually not bad. The start wasn't bad. The middle was actually too warm, but I wasn't about to ditch anything because I knew it would be cold in the wind. We actually had a TAILWIND in a section we've had a headwind for the last two years. But as predicted, we hit the wind at mile 9. I didn't think it was really that bad, but it was very cold. It froze my face pretty quickly. I did get passed here, but not like last year when probably 50 people passed me. I was in what felt like a deadzone. Haha. There really weren't a lot of people around me here. I noticed I was catching up to a Whirlaway woman, and I was wondering who the hell she could be. Just as I caught up, she turned and said, "Hey, Leslie!" It was Lauren Tilton! I had no idea that was her. She was having some issue in her leg that felt like it was going to snap if she pushed any harder so she had slowed way down. This kind of reminded me of 2016 when she passed me in mile 8. Hard to believe that I thought I was having a bad race that day since I would kill for a 1:25 today, but I remember turning to her and saying, "Hey Lauren!" So it was like the opposite this time. I ran with Lauren for through mile 11. I felt badly because she was chatty, and I was struggling a bit here with the frozen face and the wind. I had trouble speaking. Haha. When I saw my mile 11 split, I knew I had to pick up the pace and move ahead so I did. I actually felt good on the hills. The splits for miles 12 and 13 are slower than 11, but I was actually trying a lot harder here than in miles 10 and 11. I even passed a few people. The wind was brutal here, and I couldn't wait to see that KFC. I cringed looking back at my splits for the last miles since they were all over 7 minutes. Pretty sad performance for me really, but whatever. Just as we started the downhill, I caught up with Nakri Dao, one of the men on CMS, and then Apryl Sabadosa came flying by both of us. Nakri picked up the pace and also left me behind. I didn't care. I just wanted to finish. I already knew this was going to be slower than last year, but I really hoped I'd still come in under 1:30, so I did put in a good effort to the finish. When I saw the clock nearing 1:29, I gave it a little extra and crossed with a gun time of 1:28:59. Haha. Chip time: 1:28:45. Craziness. As soon as I stopped, I wasn't really out of breath. So strange. It was as if I HADN'T given 100% effort, but I had. So I don't know why I felt that way. Normally, I can't breathe or talk, but I was back to normal within seconds. Full Results

Mile 13. Photo by Kim Gordon

Photo by Kim Gordon
I was met at the finish by Regina and my Whirlaway friends. We only talked briefly before they headed off to cool down. I walked a bit with Todd Brown before running back to the car. I had planned not to do a cool down since I didn't want to make John wait longer in the car. I had packed a bag with my post race stuff so I just grabbed that and went into the gym to change. It's so much easier to change in there than in the tight space in my car.

John in the car with the "abused" dogs that I left in the car. Haha.
As soon as John was ready, we walked up to the Pour Farm Tavern to meet up with the Tuesday Night Turtles for drinks and food. The place was packed, but as soon as the table next to us opened up, I jumped on it. John opted not bring his phone and just his books so he pretty much read most of the time. I'll admit that I did make him stay too long there; I was definitely a bad mother when we hit the 4th hour. He actually got pretty mad at me because we weren't going to get home in time for him to play video games with his friends. I didn't really feel bad about that part since he got to play with them most of Friday night and almost all of Saturday, but I did feel pretty bad afterwards that I made him stay so long. Just got caught up in a good time, and I don't have those often. It's a struggle trying not to be selfish in those moments when I know I need to have some fun sometimes, but I did feel guilty still, especially the next day when I could really think it through. I actually ended up getting pretty mad at John when we left New Bedford because he took both of my hats off my head and then hit me in the head since he was so angry at me. It ended up not being good. And it's totally my fault for staying so long, for being selfish. I feel like I give him SO much time to do what he wants, and all I really ask for is a day to go to races, but then I push it a bit much sometimes. I'm just winging it here really. I don't live a normal life; I'm just doing the best I can to make everything be right for us. Hopefully, I can do better in making sure we're both happy. Fortunately, we were both happy for most of our time at Pour Farm. It was a good time overall.

He actually WASN'T mad when I took this. Just pretending to be. 

Accidental selfie that I found on my phone the next day. haha.
A photo by Scott Mason...with some editing. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

2018 US National Snowshoe Championship

The look of awfulness is REAL. I was hating life at that moment.
All I really remember is snow. White everywhere. At least that's what half the week felt like. I remember when there was a time I loved the snow. The more, the better. But that was back in a time when I could afford downhill ski season passes, xc ski season passes...and when I liked snowshoe racing. Which leads to my horrible race at Nationals. I should have known that my zero level of interest in snowshoe racing this winter PLUS no desire to go to the National Championship Race in Vermont meant I needed to skip it. I was already having a blah week and to have the extremely disappointing race I had didn't help things at all. And, no, it was not EPIC. Not at all. Cut the shit with this calling everything EPIC crap. Ugh. I almost quit at mile 1. However, huge kudos to Tim Van Orden for probably the most EVIL course I've ever done! And I mean that as a total compliment! Haha. :)

I was STILL having intestinal issues, and I still am, but I feel like there's some slight improvement...maybe. But all week, I felt like I was basically starving myself unintentionally since it literally seemed like I was digesting nothing (Really trying not to be TMI here haha). Race morning. Same. I was drained and pretty dehydrated no matter how much water I tried to drink. I'm actually thinking I didn't lose weight because my body thought it was starving itself and held onto the fat as if in some sort of survival mode. I didn't look good all week. You can see it in my face in the photos; I look old and tired. I did finally get some new probiotics on Friday afternoon, but I still don't know if it's helping. But like I said, I think it could be improving, but I'm not out of the woods yet. Whatever it is, though, it's just going to have to run its course. I have no other options. The crazy part is that I had a similar issue going on at the 2014 National Snowshoe Race, only that was my fault for juicing too many beets the night before. I don't think I need to elaborate on that at all, but let's just say I felt super sick during that race and actually had to leave before any of the men finished their race because of my "issues". Hahaha.

I still managed to hit 60 miles this week, but only because I had that outside pressure. There's no way I would have otherwise. I would have run maybe 3 miles on Thursday instead of 8 and then taken a possible wallowing-in-self-pity zero day on Sunday. Haha. But I got it done. 3 treadmill runs, one of which was supposed to be a trail run in Mass, but noooooo, Asshole Nor'easter had to ruin things. One actual solid (failed workout/long) road run, one snow-covered dirt road run, one mix of snowmobile trail and road run and the most brutal snowshoe run I've ever done.  What a weird running week. Haha. Got the elevation up at least, though! 3,652ft. I need to be doing more of that soon on mountains...if it would stop snowing. Also got in 3 days of ab work and one upper body and ab workout to make 4 days of an effort. Haha.

Monday, March 5, 2018- Got up early for 3 easy miles on the treadmill. 24:06. 8:02 avg pace. I was pretty beat from the race the day before and just tired in general. Walked into a typical Monday which is like opening a bunch of presents except these presents suck...

Yes, that's blood. Found this on the bench seat in our ambulance.

Lazy pigs
Yep. My work environment. Rob and I literally spend an hour and a half most Mondays just getting our truck in order. These people are SO lucky I'm not in charge.

Got in 10 minutes of abs that evening. Nothing really going on at work today. Few calls. Slept all night.

John left that morning for his 3-day school trip to Burlington, VT. I was so jealous! Haha. I was kind of bummed there was only one photo from the trip, but I was glad John was in it. It was his first trip away with anyone other than family. He had a great time. I honestly feel so emotional over this amazing experience he's getting with this school.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018- Finally a beautiful day!! Sunny, blue skies. Made my long/workout run so much better. Today's running agenda was 15 miles with an easy 4 miles, 3 miles at marathon pace (MP), 1 mile easy, 3 miles at MP and then 4 miles easy to finish. Maybe I should have paid more attention to the route I chose because somehow I managed to pick a route on 113 in Sandwich that literally had the two 3-mile MP parts starting and ending on HUGE ass hills. The rest was mostly flat, and only the 3-mile sections were on crazy hills. Oops. That ended up making this run a FAIL. Well, not totally because the effort was all there, and I'm confident that on a route with less long, steep climbs I would have hit MP easily. I'd run about half of these hills already, but for some reason, I didn't remember how steep they were. Of course that means good downhills, too, but they didn't quite make up for the slowness on the long climbs.

I didn't feel very good in the first 4 miles and almost turned around at that point, but I decided to keep going and get through it. The biggest question in my head at this point was, "What is my marathon pace?!" I had no idea! I know I want to run a sub-3 at VCM, but like I said before, I don't know how far under 3 hours I'll be up for. So I decided to take both of my sub-3 marathons' average pace and shoot for something in the middle. I picked 6:45 as a goal. I knew within about 1/2 a mile this wasn't happening. Haha. But it was ok. I actually felt good now and just did what I could manage in effort. 6:52, 7:03, 6:56. Not bad at all considering. Ran a super easy mile into the center of Sandwich then turned around dreading the fact I had to do that all over again and knowing that it would be even harder the other direction. Haha. 7:01, 7:22, 6:56. The middle mile was a VERY steep hill. This mile would have been well over 8 minutes, if not close to 9, if I hadn't had the downhill after it. I was thankful for the last 4 miles of easy running back to my car. 1:52:23. 7:29 avg pace. 706ft of elevation gain.

It was a strange day since John was gone on his trip. I kept thinking it was Thursday and had to remind myself that I had to work the next day. I decided to take advantage of the free time and headed down to Dover for a long overdue massage with Tina Carr. Normally, my legs and glutes are my biggest complaints, but today it was my neck, shoulders and back. I had built up so much tension that by the time I walked out of there, I felt I'd lost 5lbs. Haha. These sessions always double as therapy sessions, as well, since Tina and I have a lot of life issues in common. We're able to vent and empathize with each other so it's nice. I think she might be the only person I've met who actually "gets" it, seriously. Just talking to her and listening to her stories really helped open my eyes to some things going on in my life. Things I would normally not address with myself or actually see it until it was pointed out. 90 minutes well spent for sure! I just wish I could afford to see Tina more often. She's the best!

I originally planned to join the Six03 Dover Pub Run after this, but I really didn't want to run after my massage so I opted instead to drive down to Earth Eagle Brewings in Portsmouth for a beer release. Surprise! Surprise! Right? Haha. Garrison City Beerworks, Southern Maine Brewing and Earth Eagle had collaborated on a beer honoring the Dude from the Big Lebowski and his favorite drink, the white russian. I HAD to try this, and I actually could!! I was there early, but the place was packed. Some nice person offered me her seat at the bar which made my being alone way less awkward. I appreciated it. I was able to get some cans and had a pour. It was actually REALLY good. Lately when I'm out alone, I just keep to myself, but a guy who was also there alone ended up at the bar the next to me after it was vacated. I felt bad because he kept trying to strike up a conversation with me, but I took one look at him and realized there was no way he was over 25, if even much over 21! It was so dark in there and with my hat on, I probably didn't look as old as I am. I was still nice to him when he talked to me, but didn't try to keep the conversation going. I was doing him a huge favor. Haha. Hopefully, some younger woman took over my seat when I left.

I love the charm of Portsmouth!
Since I hadn't eaten really all day and I was still having issues, I was pretty starving so I stopped at Five Guys on the way home and stuffed my face with a burger and fries. I've always felt overly full from this, but I honestly could have eaten another burger; that's how hungry I was. Haha.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018- 4 miles on the treadmill before work. Very easy in 31:51. 7:58 avg pace. Had to work with the new girl again. Other than a few issues I'd like to address with her, everything actually went fine; she's smart and has the will to learn. Now that I can work on my blog post on Mondays in Tamworth, I'm able to finish up much earlier with it on Wednesdays. Yay! This gave me time to take a walk on the trail out back and bid farewell to dirt for awhile, since a Nor'easter was moving in by the afternoon. I walked 1.5 miles. We got a 911 shortly after I finished, and the snowfall began! Bye, bye, dirt! :(

During my walk. That coat screams blue collar! Haha.
The rest of the day and evening were completely quiet until just before midnight when we got our only other 911 call. As always, repeat customers. On one hand, it makes it easier since I can usually remember most of their history, but, on the other hand, when they live directly across the street from the hospital and call for an ambulance instead, it leaves you shaking your head. Haha. It was a full-on white-out and the roads were completely unplowed so it took us well over 10 minutes to get there. Care for the patient was actually delayed because of this and our time on scene. I guess some people just don't realize this. I don't mind doing my job at all; that's not the issue. It's just that these kinds of people make me lose faith in humanity. Haha. I didn't get to sleep until around 2pm since I always have trouble falling back asleep so I only slept 4 hours. Ugh.

Thursday, March 8, 2018- Oh the dread of going home and seeing the 18 inches of snow I was going to have to shovel. Ugh. It's not so bad if you can shovel the snow over the course of the storm, but when I started trying to move all 18in of heavy, wet snow, I knew I was in for a very long morning. And it did not disappoint. Even before the shoveling, the shit began with a phone conversation with Bryan. He still has these ideas of what I think that are completely wrong. "It makes you feel good knowing I'm a crazy person, doesn't it?" My response, "No. It actually stresses me the fuck out!" He thinks I take pleasure in his faults, like it makes me feel better about myself or something? Oh! Look at me! I'm not crazy! I deserve a medal. If he only knew that plenty of people think I'M crazy, too. Haha

After that the shoveling began. This isn't just pushing snow out of the way; this is also lifting what I've pushed up and over the already existing snow banks. This takes a lot of upper body and core strength, as well as my legs since I have to use one leg to assist in lifting it. I was exhausted by a quarter of the way in. I had to take breaks just sitting on the shovel. After the first 2 hours, I took a 30 minute beer break then went back out for another 2 hours. 4 hours total shoveling. I was completely exhausted, and it looked like a crappy shoveling job. I just didn't have the strength to do it better.

I don't know how I had the energy, but I managed to get right on the treadmill as soon as I was done shoveling. It was a very slow 8 miles in 1:04:09. 8:01 avg pace. Needless to say, I had to rest for awhile after my shower. 4 hours of a full body workout is not something I'm used to. Haha.

I took Phoenix out later. I broke trail with my big snowshoes, but Phoenix still kept going ahead and ending up in a snow hole. Haha.

Although annoying, it makes my house look pretty. 

A shower did a girl some good! Haha.

John came home later and I finally got to hear about his trip to Burlington. He had had a great time which I loved hearing. The Montshire Museum was his favorite place that they visited, and from what he told me, I now want to go there, too. They also visited the Perkins Geology Museum and the aquarium. They went to Get Air Trampoline Park AND the movies. Plus their Air B&B was right on Battery Park. I also like that they were only allowed a very short time to use their phones for the whole 3 days. He didn't mind that at all either.

Friday, March 9, 2018- Slept in, as usual. I needed the sleep badly. Thursday had been an exhausting day and probably played a role in my shitty race on Saturday. I had an easy 8 miles to do and opted for the dirt roads in Chocorua. It took me awhile to get out of my car for the run since I was having to deal with Bryan AGAIN. He keeps putting me in the middle of his and John's issues, asking me to tell John that he can't stay at the house, that he has to stay with Bryan. Yeah, so, when John is upset he can't stay at the house then I'm the bad guy not him. I get it, and I didn't fall for it. I know he thinks if I'm the bad guy it will help them not fight, and I'm sure he's right, but how is it right to make me do the dirty work? Ugh. Like dealing with a child. I never replied to his last message. I got out of the car and started running.

The snow cover would force me to keep it slow, but when it came down to it, I don't think I needed any help in slowing down. Haha. I was pretty tired for this one. I wore microspikes but was surprised to find some portions of Loring Hill Rd to be completely bare already. I guess the warmer temps are melting the snow quickly. This was probably the slowest run I've ever done on these roads, and it was still beating me up. I stopped to take off my gloves and took a few pics. When I looked at it later, I realized that I look like total shit. I think I even said, "Oh my god," out loud when I saw it. EEK. I looked like I felt, too. Ugh. I knew Saturday wasn't going to go well...especially with 40 inches of fresh snow that fell at the race site.

Miscalculated my turnaround point and ended up with 8.8 miles instead of 8. Not a big deal really, but I was ready to stop at 8. Haha. 1:15:23. 8:33 avg pace. 728ft of elevation gain.

Of course, John was at home when I got there since Bryan couldn't tell him he had to stay with him. John thought he was free to play video games all day now, but haha, it was time for me to be the bad guy for real. :) I took him XC skiing! I was so looking forward to the freshly groomed trail at Believe in Books. John turned out to be into it and I wasn't the bad guy after all. He loves skiing groomed trails. This place has a book that you read as you go along the trail, and the book was SO ODD. Not only was it creepy and dark, it also had grammatical errors and misspellings on every page. Haha. It also pretty much copied Disney princess fairy tales. We missed the section with the title page, and by the time we were on our way back, people were out there taking that story down and putting up a different one, but I was able to find it on Vimeo! Rapunzel and the Seven Dwarfs, if anyone is bored enough. Haha. So anyway, skiing was fun and going well at first until all of a sudden the snow started sticking to my skis. I had to stop to scrape it every 5 minutes at first and then it was every single step! I was so bummed out. This has happened before, but I've never had to take off my skis and walk all the way back. I did today. I'm sure there's some sort of specific ski wax for this so I have to look it up. The wax I have is definitely the wrong one. We did 2.7 miles total. I probably walked about 1/4 of it.

I was definitely tired when we finished and totally dreaded the early morning wake up and drive. I had registered John for the Kids 1K snowshoe race, but when I realized I'd have to get up at 3:30am, I said screw that. An extra hour of sleep was definitely a better choice. The more rest the better. I had a bad feeling about the race all day and night. I didn't want to do it, but it cost me A LOT of money with the USSSA membership fee on top of the registration fee. If it wasn't Tim Van Orden's race, I would have skipped it still, though. I just knew it was going to be bad. I should have listened to my gut.

Pretty sunset. Nice thing about winter is that you can see Heavenly Hill.
Saturday, March 10, 2018- We left at 5:30am which I figured would be plenty of time to get there and not rush since 1.5 hours is usually plenty. The drive wasn't bad even though we started to hit snow as we drove out of Brattleboro. This snow would last the ENTIRE time we were there and only got heavier. No problems driving, though. Got there at the time I planned. But somehow, I ended up completely rushed and stressed out. I think it must have been the time I spent getting deep cleats put on my Dion Snowshoes because by the time that was done, I felt like I had to drop my stuff in the lodge and then rush back to the car to get John and take the dogs out. John was pretty quick about getting out of the car, and I was able to snag him the ONLY empty seat in the lodge. I had forgotten just how terribly crowded that room gets. No exaggeration that I didn't have room to bend down to change my shoes. It was that tight. I had to move to someone else's seat for a minute just to do that. Finally, I was ready for a warmup. I didn't know where to go since the Citizens 5k was using the course and the main road was a definite no; way too dangerous. I decided to just snowshoe run on a barely broken trail that I found at the end of the parking lot. I brought Chill along. I only had time for 1 mile since I was running through powder and it took over 13 minutes.

By the time I was back at the lodge and ready to strip down  to my Six03 nordic suit (which I will NEVER wear again, by the way), I only had 10 minutes to the start. It was freezing, windy and snowing outside so I had to run around to stay warm. I came upon a single track section that I figured had to be part of the course; I just had no idea when we'd run it! But oh my god. It had been broken into a trench, but a trench of powder. This was my first taste of the pain we were about to endure. If I only knew just how hard this race was going to be. Omg. Not to mention we were racing before the men so WE were the ones packing down the trail.

I got back to the start and lined up with the few running friends I knew there: Amy Rusiecki, Sarah Canney, Jamie Woolsey, Amber Ferreira and Jennifer Vandongen. I decided to copy Sarah and Amber by tucking the nordic suit top into the pants when I realized they were onto something. Otherwise, snow would have been flying up it onto my bare skin. Although it made me look even more hideous in that nordic suit, it ended up being the right choice. I would have had numb, red skin within the first mile if I hadn't. The only other person I recognized was Jennifer Chaudoir since I talked to her some at World's last year. Otherwise, it was all people I didn't know. This was a huge change from 2014 when we had double the amount of racers, and I knew a lot of people there. The start was wide so I lined up reluctantly on the line in between Amy and Jamie. Tim gave a brief starting announcement and then started the race. He said something funny as you can see how we're all laughing in the start pic, but I can't remember what it was. Haha.

Within a few steps I lost my balance in the soft snow and almost fell into Amy. Haha. I tried to get ahead of most of the pack but didn't even try to go out with the women in front. Based on the footing at the start, I knew this was going to be a LONG race. The only problem with hanging back was all of the snow being kicked in our faces in addition to the falling snow. It was hard to see. The pack was a little tight as we rounded the first section and one girl went down and almost took Amy with her. I was right behind them so I had to stop, but it was quick. Amy immediately helped the girl to her feet and we were running again. Fortunately with this climb we spread out pretty quickly. There was a downhill back to the finish area and then we were off into no man's land uphill for the next 4K. I was struggling bad already. I had no power whatsoever in that soft snow and it was all uneven with only snowshoe prints to follow. Nothing was packed down or solid for this ENTIRE race, and that is no exaggeration. Not a bit. It was all soft and uneven on the wide parts and deep, fresh powder on the single track. I was already tired when we hit the 1st mile. I felt so slow and heavy and everyone ahead was pulling away quickly. I had NOTHING. My run is more of a shuffle and without any real snowshoe running/racing this winter, I was way out of practice. I was stumbling and didn't feel confident on my feet at all. It was terrible. I seriously contemplated dropping out at this point, but I told myself to just keep going that maybe I would have a better race after this 4K climb. I got passed on the climb by one woman with whom I would stay close to for awhile before she was gone. I had two right on my tail for the rest of the way. Before we ever hit the top, I was already feeling completely defeated and upset with the way it was going.

The only time I was ahead of Sarah Canneythe whole race. She would go on to have the race of her life finishing 3rd!
I was able to gap the two behind me a little bit once we hit the top and started on the long winding powder single track. It was crazy. Seriously can't even describe it other than constant ups and downs and twisting and almost falling around every turn. My snowshoes were constantly almost getting stuck in the deep snow. One of them did at one point, and I had to actually stop for a second to get it out. I had no idea where I was for all this. It just seemed to go on forever. The snow falling only got heavier along the way. One woman caught up with me as I was catching up with Amy so the 3 of us ended up together pretty much until the end.

We finally came back down into civilization with the same switchbacks as 2014 down past the finish, and remembering that, I knew we would be going back up, but I was expecting something like 2014. Oh no. Not even close. This was just pure evil. We turned onto a steep single track that went up and around for half a mile before coming back through the finish area again. At this point, all fingers on both hands had gone completely numb; I was wearing a pair of thicker neoprene Nathan gloves with a mitten cover flap over them thinking this would be warm enough, but my entire body was soaking wet from all the snow and nothing could keep my hands warm enough.

I had no idea this next section was going to happen. I thought this would just be a short up and down before coming back to the finish, but no, this was more twisting, powder single track for about .7 miles before it brought us by the finish again. Fortunately, I had done that short warm up before the race, so I knew weren't done. We hadn't hit that single track yet. Just as I was passing the finish, the men's race started next to me so I knew I was at 1.5 hours so far on the course. I entered the last single track and realized this young girl had caught up to me. She had been nowhere in sight on the last single track so she must have pushed it while were out in the open part. No way was I getting passed in the last .4 of this race. Fortunately, I was better on this single track than she was, but once we came out and rounded the corner for the uphill to the finish, she was on me instantly. I didn't think I had any kick in me at all, but I fucking did today, and I crossed the finish line just barely ahead of her in 10th place. 6.7 miles on the GPS which had to be no less than 7.5 with all of those tight turns. 1:34:21. A crazy 1,194ft of elevation gain. Full Saturday Results.

Photo by Jennifer Brightman

Another photo by Jennifer Brightman just before I finished
I was so upset with my finish immediately. 10th? 10th?! Are you kidding? Ugh. My disappointment was quickly overtaken by the realization that my fingers were really bad off. I actually ran back to the lodge, but unfortunately no snowshoes were allowed in there so I had to get them off beforehand. I honestly couldn't do it. I had zero feeling in my hands. Fortunately, some nordic skiers standing there immediately noticed my predicament and jumped in to help. Barry Auskern and Joannie Bernstein, whose names I would learn later after they reached out via FB later to check on me, were a lifesaver. Joannie struggled with my snowshoes due to the accumulation of snow that was now basically ice. Barry had me place my hands on his bare stomach in an attempt to warm them. I honestly couldn't have gotten my snowshoes off without their help. My next option was to risk being disqualified for walking into the lodge with my snowshoes on, but my hands were in agony, and I was just about to do it. Unfortunately, it still took Joannie a long time to get the snowshoes off so in the meantime, my soaking wet clothes sent me into mild hypothermia. Now, I've been cold before. With all of the thru-hiking I've done, I have had my fair share of shivering, but NEVER have I experienced shivering from actual hypothermia. By the time I got in the lodge I was in a state of severe, uncontrollable shivering. It was insane, but there was nothing I could do to get warm until I could get the feeling back in my hands. The woodstove did nothing so I went to the bathroom to run them under warm water. I accidentally got the water way too hot which resulted in every finger tip turning a dark blue as they rewarmed. Yikes!! I immediately cooled the water temp and continued to rewarm my hands through searing fucking pain. At one point I looked in the mirror and saw my eyes were bright red from the snow blowing into them the entire race. My face was also bright red from the snow sting. I was finally able to get the feeling back in my hands. Next step was getting on dry clothes. I could only talk to John briefly, but he was like, "Mom, you're shaking like crazy!" I was off to the bathroom where all the ladies were stripping down out of the wet clothes. No one cared; we were all just in a hurry to get warm. Due to my uncontrollable shaking I couldn't get my shoes untied and another racer jumped in to help. Man, I don't know what I would have done without the kindness of strangers. I was finally in dry clothes with my down puffy jacket on. I got back to John and put my bear coat on over that. Some woman walked over to offer me hot liquids, but I declined since I was already making my way to the food bar for coffee. Everyone was staring at me with concern since the shivering was just insane. I couldn't even hold my coffee and almost spilled the whole thing. I set it down, put a lid on it and a straw through the top. It was the only way I could drink it. Not ideal, but it worked. By the time I finished the coffee, I had stopped shivering. I was still really cold, but I was back to normal.

Unfortunately feeling normal also meant thinking normally again and the disappointment became overwhelming. I couldn't believe what had just happened. How could I have run so poorly?! This started a downward spiral for the rest of the day. Fortunately, the drive back down to Brattleboro was a bit of white knuckled driving with the snow and some idiot driving with their brakes and going a ridiculously slow speed. They almost caused an accident with those of us behind them having to hit our brakes. This kept my mind focused on that.

Once in town, we went right to Whetstone Station for lunch. I was able to put us on the waitlist before we got there so we didn't wait too long. Silly me pulled into the metered lot, thought it was Sunday (since we ate here last year on a Sunday after the snowshoe race), didn't pay the meter and ended up with a $10 parking ticket. Haha. Oops. Totally spaced that it was Saturday. Lunch with John was good even though he had his headphones in. Haha. We both got burgers. I was SO hungry and ate every bite. I had two really good beers. My spirits were lifted a bit by this point.

We left for home and drove through town. I pointed out our Dunkin' Donuts campsite from the night before the Green River Marathon. As soon as I looked in that parking lot, it triggered my downward spiral. All of a sudden remembering that night and how I was in tears because I couldn't afford a place for us to stay just triggered an emotional breakdown. Not to mention that within a mile of there, we passed a gas station that had once been the site of a happy moment in my life that has now gone to shit. I purposely stopped at the next one, but it didn't help. I ended up in full blown tears hating my horrible life for the entire stretch of road to Keene and beyond. It was a true moment of wallowing in self pity. It wasn't just the bad race; it was everything just piled on in my head. I don't know if everyone has those moments, but I certainly do, and this was one of the worst. Haha. I can laugh at myself now which is a good thing. The only thing I regret is not keeping it to myself since I shared how I was feeling with someone else who had no need to hear about my shit.

I finally calmed down for the rest of the drive, and it went fine. John played with Phoenix for awhile which kept my attention elsewhere in a good way. We weren't home too late. I got a shower and sunk into the couch with Phoenix the rest of the evening.

Sunday, March 11, 2018- I was woken up to the ding of a message which was nice, but I couldn't keep my eyes open after briefly responding, so I slept another hour and a half. It wouldn't have been so bad if it wasn't for the time change making it feel so late. Plenty of time for the day, though. I was feeling a lot better and had my usual coffee by the kitchen window before it was time to venture out for my run. I was pretty beat, but, unfortunately, in order to hit 60 miles for the week, I had to get in 13.1 miles. I had fallen short 2 miles the day before due to the shortened warm up and no cool down. I was in quite a bit of pain in my high hamstring tendons, the same issue I've had for exactly a year now. I suspected then that this "injury" might be due to snowshoe racing, and after this weekend's race, I have even more evidence of this being the case. I have not been in pain in these tendons like this since this exact time last year after the Northeast Snowshoe Championship. They've been in chronic pain since but nothing like this...until now...a day after snowshoe racing. I may have just run my last snowshoe race ever.

Oh, oh! Another thing I noticed. By the way, I do still have plantar fasciitis but it's been mild and bearable for a long time...until this weekend. I ran both Friday's run and Saturday's race in my Hoka One One Speed Instincts and my PF was THROBBING. I had assumed my snow boots had started the PF a year ago, but when I went back over the time line, I noticed it started also shortly after I got the Speed Instincts and started wearing them regularly. I have no idea on the actual truth of either theory about the tendons or the Hokas, but the fact that these symptoms presented themselves with the same factors, I can't rule it out. Those Hokas went right into a bag of shoes to get rid of yesterday. Not wearing those ever again. As far as snowshoe racing goes, I'm sure I'll race again, but with this suspicion in the back of my mind.

So anyway, I was a hurting puppy and stupidly thought that if I ran on the snowmobile trail as opposed to the road, it would be better. Well, I was partly right. It hurt less than the road, but the soft snow that just got softer as I ran made it a sufferfest. The snowmobile trail was a total mess. Huge bare spots and mud that I sunk into almost losing a shoe. I actually had to stop and take off my shoes to get mud out of them. Haha. I ran from home on the snowmobile trails in Conway. By the time I got to Stark Rd I had to give up on the trail and jump on the road. I ran Stark to 153 and then got back on the snowmobile trail (reluctantly but to avoid extra miles) for .9 miles over to Tasker Hill Rd where I ran the road back through Cranmore Shores. My watch hit 13.1 miles exactly at road into my neighborhood so I just stopped there and walked back home. Once again, exhausted! And in pain!
2:03:08. 9:22 avg pace (which was actually pretty good considering how slow the snowmobile trail parts were). 885ft of elevation gain.

I took this after my run was over. They were caked in mud initially.
As soon as I walked in the door and sat down to take off my shoes, I messaged the person helping me with my running and said that I had to take a zero on Monday. Haha.

I showered then got John and the dogs out for a walk on the snowmobile trail in North Conway. The weather was pretty nice, and it actually made my pain subside quite a bit. We didn't walk far, only 1.5 miles, but John had a really fun time playing with the dogs.

We went home and I got to work on packing down John a trail to his bus stop...until I realized the brook was now melted and there was no way across without going a half mile around via our wooden bridge. By the time I got to my destination, I realized this was absolutely ridiculous and called the van driver to ask if he could pick John up in a different spot just across the bridge. Thankfully, he agreed and John now only had to walk about 100 yards behind our house. Haha. I did end up finishing off that mile of breaking trail. It took me 41 minutes! So as you can guess, I was DONE by the time I got back. I made us dinner then plopped down on the couch for TV time until The Walking Dead was over.

Another nice sunset
So it was a rough week for me. Seemed like the culmination of events just building led to my pity party breakdown, but I was much better by Sunday. Of course, knowing New Bedford Half Marathon is coming up this Sunday could mean another sob fest on the way home, so I'm prepared for that. Haha. I have no idea what kind of shape I'm in for New Bedford. I don't have a high goal either. I remember in 2015 when I "only" ran a 1:23 and was so disappointed I didn't hit my 1:20 goal. Hahahahahaha!! Oh those were the days. And then another disappointing 1:25 in 2016! Ensue more laughter!!! Hahaha! I'm just looking to run under 1:27 this year, but who knows if I will even run that fast if that goddamn wind has a say. But at least I feel like I'm going in with a reasonable goal. Just have to not destroy myself prior to that... and without help, I probably would. Actually, no. Take "probably" out of that. I definitely would. But here's hoping for a better race!!

OMG. I cannot get over this song. I was a HUGE Brandi Carlile fan back in 2005-2006 when I was pregnant with John and after he was born. I haven't cared much for her music since then UNTIL I heard this new song of hers. It totally blew me away. Wow. Her voice is just amazing in this.