Sunday, April 8, 2012

Boston Marathon AGAIN!

I can't believe another year has rolled around since the 2011 Boston Marathon and that in just 8 days I'm running it again!! Wow. I'm nervous about how the race will be this time around. My training hasn't quite been up to par with last year's. Most of my long runs were done in the dark, on frozen sidewalks and even in blowing snow. I got the distances done, but the speed was lacking. Last year, I did awesome tempo runs on the treadmill. I don't love the treadmill, but I felt faster and stronger after using it. I haven't done any speed work AT ALL this year. I've done a lot of mountains, snowshoe running and long, slow miles, but I think the lack of tempo runs and speed work are going to hurt me in 8 days. I'm not even sure I'm going to run as fast as I did last year. I'll actually be surprised if I do. I felt strong and happy with where I was for the Mid Winter Classic, but I don't feel ready for that kind of speed now. And the road just hurts! I've run a few races since my last post, but not too many. The Granite State Snowshoe Series had to cancel most of its races due to lack of snow, but the Series Championship at Great Glen Trails was held despite the poor conditions. Chris Dunn, Timothy Lindsey, my acidotic RACING teammates, and I went out to mark the course the day before and realized right away the original course was not going to happen.  The snow was too scarce, so we had to stick to two loops of the Nordic Meister's course to make it a 10K. Race day ended up being beautiful and warm. Just before the race, I opted for short sleeves and a running skirt. People thought I was crazy. I thought they were crazy for wearing all of that gear. Turned out I was still too hot, so it was a good choice. I didn't have much competition at the race so I ended up finishing first female in 48:00 flat.
Granite State Snowshoe Series Championship Race 2012
photo by Scott Mason
The following weekend was the Winter Wild race at Bretton Woods. I realized at this race just how much work I need to do to get back to where I was in the Fall with my mountain running. I was slow. I've been mountain running all winter, but I haven't been pushing myself. I've just been maintaining, and I could feel it in this race. The woman who had been winning most of the Winter Wild series races surged ahead of me right off the bat. I managed to stay right behind her the entire way up, but I could not catch her. I'm a good downhill runner, so I thought I might be able to catch her on the downhill, but she just flew down the mountain. However, I had the advantage. She never knew I was right behind her. She never once did a look-back, so within 10 yards of the finish line, I surged past her for the win. I caught her totally by surprise, and by that point, she couldn't get her feet going in time to maintain the win. I actually felt bad about passing her right at the finish. It sucks to be passed then. And in all reality, she ran faster than me the entire race. She did the get the first-woman-to-the-summit award which she so deserved so I didn't feel so bad after that.
Just barely taking the win for first female at Winter Wild Bretton Woods
photo by Gianina Lindsey
So for racing that's it. In 8 days, I'll see where I am at the marathon level. I do have 2 50Ks and 2 more marathons on my race schedule for this year. My friend, Kendra, and I are trying to win a free team entry into the Transrockies Run in August. That's like the running experience of a lifetime, but it's also 120 miles over 6 days at high elevation, so that, too, would be a challenge.
I guess my next post will be my Boston report. I hope it's a good one!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Time has passed

Wow. Time has passed since my last blog entry. I'd had plans to write about Mountain Epic and the French Fry 5K, but a week after the French Fry on Oct 22, 2011, my sweet dog, Coy, died suddenly. It was (and still is) a devastating loss for me. I cried every day for over 2 months. And, just writing this is bringing the tears back. This has just been a huge punch in the gut for me since I loved her so much. She was getting older, and she was getting more lame, but I still felt she had another year or two left. She was just the most beautiful being in the world. And I miss her every single day, still.
Coy, 2 days before she died, doing what she loved the most, hiking.
Through it all, though, I kept running. The day after she died, I ran up and down Middle Mountain crying the whole way. Running and John have been the glue holding me together. I know some people might say, "She was just a dog," but she was more than that to me. She was such a huge part of my life for the past 10 years. She thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail and the Appalachian Trail. She was so much more than "just a dog". So this has been a blow and has left me not wanting to write. I finally feel like I can, but the tears are streaming.
As sad as I was (am), I've had to keep on living for myself and for John. I can't sit around and mope. That's just not me. So I'm still going. I do have the other 2 dogs, Spot and Chill, to take care of, as well.
So I guess this leaves me here today, a day when I ran a really good race.
This morning's race was actually a road race (Gasp!). I like to do road races every now and then. It's good for the speed. Plus, today's Cape Elizabeth Mid Winter Classic 10-miler was a good test to see how I'm doing in my training for Boston. I found that I'm doing quite well, thank you. I knew I had the distance down, but it was the speed I worried about. From start to finish, though, I was able to keep pretty much even splits to finish with a 1:07:26 and 4th female overall. Finishing 4th was totally unexpected. I was just hoping to finish in the top 10, but right at the start, I pulled out ahead of all but two women and just held there until around mile 4 when I was passed by another woman. I managed to keep her in sight the rest of the way, though, and only finished about 45 seconds behind her. The whole way, I kept expecting to be passed by more women, but it just didn't happen. The next woman behind me was over a minute back at the finish. So, needless to say, I was pretty happy with my race. Of course, I can barely walk now, due to the sciatic nerve pain, but I finally made an appointment today with the chiropractor who was there at the race. I so can't afford it financially, but I also can't afford to be this sort of pain any longer. It's been a year and a half. Enough is enough. Time for some help.
Since my last blog post, the racing has been a bit quiet due to winter, but I was able to pull off two first female finishes at the Mountain Epic 12-miler and the French Fry 5K, both in October.
French Fry 5k Photo by Roger Marcoux
On Thanksgiving, I managed to pull off a 5K PR at the Thanks-for-Giving 5K in Cohasset, Ma with a 19:17 and 3rd female overall. That was my first road race since May, so I was pretty surprised to hit a PR on a hilly course. Sadly, there were no pictures from that race, nor the Mountain Epic. I seemed to be the only person in the entire race without a picture. There was one, but I was way off in the distance. I was pretty bummed about that, but then Roger Marcoux managed to get whole bunch of good pictures at the French Fry 5k to make up for it.
December saw a break from races, but I didn't really mind. In January, I ran my first and second snowshoe races ever. Hebron Hills in Maine was my first race. It was SO cold, but once we got going I warmed up fast. It was a really small race of only about 10 people so I didn't have anyone to actually race against and used it more as a practice race to test out my snowshoes. I did have to stop twice to make adjustments on my snowshoes and I tripped myself up 3 times on the first loop, so I was glad to not really be racing for this one. I did finish first female, but it was only out of 2 women, so it didn't really count. Beautiful course and nice people made this race a great first!
The following week was the Whitaker Woods Snowshoe Scramble 4 miler. This winter has not been great for snow, but conditions were picture perfect on race day, and this time, I came out to race. And wow, what a true ass-kicker. I went out hard at the get-go, and so did 2 other women. One blasted on past me, and I never caught her. The other, I passed just at the top of the first hill. I ran hard. It was the hardest I had ever run on snowshoes since this was only my second snowshoe race ever. I actually felt like I was going to puke the entire last mile. It's amazing how hard it really pushes your body. I absolutely loved it.
Whitaker Woods Snowshoe Scramble photo by Gianina Lindsay
I managed to pull off second female with a 36:04 finish time... in 4 miles. Goes to show how much slower snowshoe running is, and you feel like you're giving 110%.
Sadly, the snow has been scarce for most of New Hampshire so the rest of the Granite State Snowshoe Series has either been canceled or postponed and there hasn't been another race since Whitaker Woods. I was planning to do the one next weekend in Merrimack, NH, but the way it's looking, that one will probably be canceled, too. I'm fortunate to live where I live, though, and we've had enough snow that I'm still out at least twice a week for a snowshoe run. I'm not really training hard, but I do feel like I'm getting better. Hopefully, I'll be able to do another snowshoe race this month before the Series Championship at Great Glen Trails next month, but I guess that's up to Mother Nature.
On another note, I began training for Boston (is it that time again?!) the first week of January, and despite the cold and slippery sidewalk, I've been doing well. I'd much prefer to be training on the trail like last year, but I just don't have the time to run at that slower pace and get the miles in. So I'm stuck on the road/sidewalk. Last week's run did have to be cut short by 2 miles since I ran out of time. The sidewalk was so slippery that I was running about a minute slower per mile and had to head home before I finished. The week before that I ran 15 miles in the heavy snow on a really slippery sidewalk late evening. It was a fantastic run. Slower than I wanted, but every step slid a bit so I just ran as fast as I could. My other runs have be in near 0 degree temps.
So I can't say it's been easy. I honestly don't enjoy marathon training, especially on the road, but I'm hoping to get to the point where I can maintain my distance level after Boston without having to retrain all over again. Last year killed me with that SOLO course. I lost all my distance training during that course and just didn't have the time, nor the stamina, to get it back. It was fine, though. I stuck to shorter distances the rest of the year, but I'm hoping this year will be different. I already signed up for Pineland Farms 50K and the Mount Desert Island Marathon, so I have to keep this going. And if all goes well, I'm hoping to do the Stonecat Trail Marathon in Massachusetts and then the Duncan Ridge Trail 50K in Georgia near my parents' house; both of those are in November and that would finish off my races for 2012. 
So that's on my agenda. That and a million other races including There's a Black Fly in My Eye, Mt. Washington (if I get in), Cranmore, Loon, the Bradbury Series and whatever else lands my way. I'm hoping to hold it together this year while still working two jobs and taking care of John. It's not easy. I barely have a bit of alone time, but if I can do what I'm doing through the winter, I should be able to pull it off. But... we'll see.