Saturday, January 31, 2015


This is a weird week for me. Today started 3 days straight of my EMT refresher course at SOLO, followed by a 4th day for my Wilderness EMT recertification. So everything has been thrown off. On the plus side, I actually have my first overnight house guests (other than my parents) since I've lived here. My friend, Jeremy, from my original Wilderness EMT class in 2011, texted me on Friday saying he and his friend, Ryan, were coming down from Bangor for the refresher. He said they had a place to stay in Plymouth, but he was wondering if I knew anywhere in town. I didn't hesitate to offer my place. They're super nice guys, and they have made me dinner for the last two nights. You can't beat that since it doesn't happen often. It's been nice to have other people in the house to talk to, eat dinner with and watch a movie with. They'll be here one more night, but I think they're planning to head somewhere to watch the Super Bowl tomorrow night. The refresher course was pretty fun for day one. Our group of locals (including both of my bosses from two different ambulance services) is slacking off, pretty much just talking and hanging out all day. We're still practicing our skills, but it's just super laid back and allowing us to have fun with it.
As far as running goes, it looks like treadmill runs for most of these days. Hardly any elevation gain for the week, and that's killing me, but it is what it is. Yesterday, I had planned to head to The Mill for a swim, but I didn't want to do any extra driving since it was still snowing, so I just came home after work, snowblowed the driveway and then did about 40 minutes of weight training. I am so weak compared to where I was in August. I keep track of the weights and reps, so I can see the difference. I'll get it back, though. This morning, I got up early and hit the treadmill for 8 miles, 7:18 pace, 1-3% incline (that's what I always do). Watched Mad Men again. I felt good. Definitely what I needed before the refresher. Class starts an hour earlier tomorrow, so I'm going to push my run until after class. It will probably just be the treadmill again, but at least I have that option, so I can't complain. I'm bummed to be missing races this weekend like the Cape Elizabeth 10-miler and Beaver Brook Snowshoe Race. It would have even been cool to go run in the Snowshoe World Championship Race in Quebec today, but, once again, it is what it is. Just have to accept it and look forward to a double next weekend.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

1 Week Post-Smashed Face

I smashed my face on the ice a week ago, and it seems to be healing nicely. The cuts on my nose and chin are still visible, plus the slight bruising on the bridge of my nose onto my cheeks in certain light. My inner lower lip is a bit puffy from my teeth cutting into it, but it's not super noticeable, unless you watch me try to eat soup. I'm a mess.
One week after eating ice and sand.
I'm really lucky to have hit the road the way I did. It could have been a bad head injury or busted teeth, so I'll take being an ugly duckling for a week+ over that any day.
Today, I hit the roads around Chocorua Lake again. This has been my go-to lately for road runs since it's close to my house and quiet. I might see 2 or 3 cars the whole time. Today, I did a little extra out and back on Philbrook Neighborhood Rd because I wanted to do at least 10. I didn't measure it beforehand and ended up with 12.5, so I was stoked. The roads were plowed well, almost too well, as the ice was exposed in a lot of places, but I ran on the side where the snow and sand were a little bit thicker. I had on my new (now already getting dull) microspikes, so I didn't slip at all, but I couldn't stop imagining falling on my face again and then having to write about it. Ha ha. I'd rather put up a goofball picture (see above) of how well it's healing. My run was nice. Cold at the start at -7, but it had warmed up into the teens by the time I finished. I ran a little slower than I would have liked at a 7:43 min pace, but my legs are still screaming at me. I might skip running tomorrow to hit the pool and do some weight training at home after. My ass and hamstrings are just sore from Sunday still.  My left knee felt painful during the run so I started to get worried. I realized after that I had a huge bruise on it, so I must have knocked it on something at some point that I can't recollect. I'm always bruising myself, so who knows.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Snowshoe Run

I could NOT wait to get out of work tonight. It was a somber day, following the murder-suicide in Fryeburg on Monday. It's a small town, so it's hitting people hard, and today was one of those days where I just wanted to walk out and never go back. So the anticipated run got me through the day.
I got out at 6pm and decided to stay in Fryeburg on the Mountain Division Trail, which follows the RR tracks, for an out-and-back 6 miles with my Dion Snowshoes. Nothing in the way of elevation gain, but the snow was soft. Snowmobiles had hit the first (and last) 1.5 miles which made it pretty runnable, but soft. The middle 3 miles were super soft since maybe 1 snowmobile had gone through there during the day. The pace was slow around 9:33/mile, but the effort was intense. I was super warm, and the fresh air felt great after sitting in the office all day. It was just what I needed.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Monday, I was still really sore, especially my right calf and hamstring, so I just took it easy and swam for 30 minutes in the pool at The Mill after work. It felt really good, but I could feel the tired legs even while I was swimming.
Today, I actually slept in a bit and had coffee before my run. I usually get up early and head out the door really early for a run so I make it back in time for my son to be dropped off. But with snow starting to fall, I decided to just run on the treadmill in my basement. I took it pretty easy. 8 miles in 58:53, between 1-3% incline. I watched Mad Men on Netflix to pass the time. Not really the most upbeat thing to watch while running, but it worked out for me.
I decided not to drive anywhere today, so I took John snowshoeing up Heavenly Hill. We had a really good time. He LOVED running downhill in his snowshoes, so maybe, just maybe I'll make a runner out of him some day.
I got a little snowblowing workout in tonight and will have to do it again in the morning before work. I did have a bit of a freak out when the snowblower wasn't spinning after it had worked perfectly fine the last time I had used it, but after inspecting it, I found ice was jamming it. It was hard to see at first, but with a headlamp, I was able to spot it way in the back. 4 bottles of hot water melted it right out and the snowblower worked like a champ. Snowshoe run tomorrow!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Boston Prep 16-Miler

Sunday was my first time racing the Boston Prep 16-Miler. This race wasn't even on my radar until Jim Johnson suggested it last Monday when it was pretty certain that the Sidehiller Snowshoe Race was going to be cancelled. A year ago, I would have had ZERO interest in this race, but it looked challenging and right around the mileage I've been training up to, so I was in. By Wednesday, Sidehiller was a definite cancellation, so I actually got excited about Boston Prep and started mentally preparing for it. With Saturday night's storm, I was a little worried they could postpone the race, but by the time Sunday rolled around, the weather was perfect.
Sunday morning, I got up early since my son, John,  was coming with me. I had to get his stuff together and make breakfast. Sunday races are now presenting a new challenge for me since I have John every Sunday. I've had to start asking for help (which I hate doing, but I'm learning), and aR teammate, Kathleen Boulter, stepped up to the plate for me in a big way. She lives close by and came over to hang out with John while I raced. We got to the race really early, and while we waited in the gym for Kathleen to arrive, I scoped out the competition. I didn't know anyone there except Jim and Rich Lavers. I had no idea who any of the women were. They were all dressed "fast", so I didn't know if it was for show or the real deal. I, on the other hand, purposely dressed "slow" with a denim running skirt and a non-team singlet (opted for my Level Renner tank).
Once John was all set with Kathleen, I got a decent 1.5-mile warm-up. By the end, I was too warm so I stripped down a layer and got prepared to head to the start. As soon as I turned the corner to the start, I spotted the one woman I knew would be my competition, and sure enough, she was. And the ONLY one. As soon as the race started, I immediately passed every woman who started in front of me, but her. It was good to have her there because she really pulled me along and had me at my max right from the get-go. I never was able to catch her, but stayed consistently about 20 yards back until the halfway point. I could tell by the way she was running that she was taking it easy, so my goal was really just to stay with her for as long as I could, but, man, she had me going hard. By mile 6, my legs were already burning. Every muscle, quads, hamstrings, calves. I actually started to get nervous that I was going to bonk by mile 10. I did lose a bit of momentum when the hills started, and I struggled up them. I'm a good uphiller, but my legs were trashed. I just did what I could to stay under an 8 minute pace for those 3 miles and was surprised to stay in the low 7s for the first two and 7:31 for the third. At mile marker 11, I got a nice surprise when Kathleen and John showed up to cheer me on. It has had to be over 2 years, maybe 3, since I've been able to see John mid-race. I loved seeing him there, and it really brightened my mood for the rest of the way. I got passed by two men during those 3 miles, but as soon as the hills were done, I was able to somewhat catch back up with the guy who would eventually finish in front of me. My legs were completely done for the last 3 miles, but I just kept pushing hard all the way to the finish. I didn't know who was behind me, so I couldn't let up at all and finished strong as 2nd woman, 20th overall with a 1:45:45, an average pace of 6:37. I had no idea what I was going to run coming into this. My weak goal was a sub-2 hour; my top goal was a 6:45 pace, since I've been feeling slow and heavy for the past month. I surprised myself with a strong run on a tough course, so I'm really happy with the run. It's good to know I'm right where I want to be.
Finish line. Photo by Kathleen Boulter

Post-race was a decent spread of food in the cafeteria at the middle school. I won a Boston Prep hoody in the awards. The best awards were the bottles of syrup... like the one Jim won. Unfortunately, my son had a spaz moment and knocked Jim's bottle off the table and onto the floor, smashing it into pieces. It was awful. I felt so bad, and I don't think he will let me live this one down... ever. I should have anticipated an 8 year old boy anywhere near a glass bottle on a table as an accident waiting to happen, but I didn't. I usually move any glasses away from his arms without even thinking about it, but I guess I was distracted this time. Bummer.
So other than that, it was a good day. My next long race is Eastern States 20-miler, with a whole bunch of snowshoe races in between. If I can fit anything else in that looks interesting, then I'm game.
The syrup destroyer waiting for me at the finish line. Photo by Kathleen Boulter.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

"Rest" Day

I didn't really rest today, but I also didn't run much. As soon as I woke up, I ran my 3 dogs up to the top of Heavenly Hill and back. This is a hill right behind my house that we made a trail up to the top of. It's right around 960', so it's about a 490' gain. Nice little run for 1.4 miles.
I had some (a lot) coffee, made my son pancakes and then did a little weight training for about 35 minutes. For a year and a half, I had been really consistent with weight training, 2-3 days a week, but when life stress hit its max this past August, I completely quit. All I wanted to do was run. And that's all I've done, so I've lost all of the strength I had built up. I think it's time for me to get back into it consistently since I really need my whole body to be strong and not just my legs. We'll see how that goes, though. I seem to have less time for extra things most days.
Later on, I took my son, John, downhill skiing at Black Mt. He loves it. I, on the other hand, just kind of like it. It is fun, but every time I'm out there I feel like I'm risking my life. I didn't grow up skiing much, so I'm not a very good skier. I don't think I'm terrible, but according to John, I'm in the 56th percentile for my downhill ski skills. So I guess that's a failing grade. Ha ha. I'd much prefer to use that money for some skate skis and just do nordic skiing all winter, but I'll stick with the downhill for my kid. Black Mt gives EMS personnel in the Valley an awesome deal on season passes, so it really doesn't cost us much each year. Conditions were actually pretty good, considering it was almost all man-made snow. A few icy spots here and there, but that's to be expected. You ski the East; you ski the ice.
Early to bed tonight, since it's race day tomorrow.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Black Cap

Headed out after work for an easy 6.2 miles out-and-back to the summit of Black Cap Mt via Hurricane Mountain Rd and the Black Cap Trail. Perfect running conditions with microspikes. Pretty solid. Not much ice (yay!), so no face plants for me today. Great day to be in the mountains, as it wasn't too cold and the sun was shining on Mt. Washington. I really just needed some elevation today. I scared an older  guy skinning on the way up as I passed him, but then stopped to talk to him on my way back down. He first asked where I was from and then my name. He didn't know me, nor I him (he said he was Phil Ostrowski, an ultrarunner back in the day), but then said, "You must know Kevin Tilton." I laughed and told him I did. I guess if you're mountain running around here, then you must know Kevin. Ha ha. Will do minimal running tomorrow just to keep up with "resting" this week. Not sure my idea of resting qualifies as resting, but it's what I'm doing. Race on Sunday, unless this snow storm messes that up. Funny, if both races I was going to do got cancelled, one due to lack of snow and the other due to too much snow.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

I smashed my face

Wednesday turned into a zero day for me. As predicted, I was too lazy for the 4am alarm, so a morning workout was a no-go. I was able to take my usual 30 minute walk on my lunch break, but that's not a workout by any stretch of the imagination. I was out of work at 6pm and then on-call at the ambulance at 7pm; I got the call that I needed to be in by then. Usually, there's time for a quick 3 mile run in between the two jobs, but since I wasn't running yesterday, I did nothing but pick up some food on my way from one place to the other. Can't run? Eat. I ended up on shift until 2am and just decided to stay the rest of the night there, but got up just before 6am so I could head home and go for a road run.
Most of the well-traveled roads were dry, but not Bald Hill, Chase Hill and Tasker Hill. Sheets of ice. I brought along my dull pair of microspikes to wear as needed, but I found them to be pretty useless in those conditions, so I took them off. I actually felt really good this morning and decided to add in a little extra instead of just finishing off the loop, so I headed up the main part of Tasker Hill Rd, with plans to turn around at the base of  Tasker Hill where it splits off uphill on a dirt road. I know how icy that road is, so I didn't want to chance it. Well, I tend to change my mind a lot mid-run, and... when I got to the split, I felt I hadn't done enough climbing, so off I went on the icy portion of Tasker Hill Rd. It was really well sanded on the sides, and I had no problems at all. I got to the top of the hill where the view is amazing, slowed down and began to turn around, when the next thing I know my face is smacking the pavement. My first thought was MY TEETH. I stuck my fingers in my mouth and felt around. Intact. Phew. And then I saw the blood all over my gloves. I'm sure I uttered, "Oh f*ck, " a few times.I could taste the blood all in mouth and feel that my lower lip was huge. I tried to wipe some of the blood away with my glove and then started walking down the hill for about 15 seconds. I had no idea why I needed to walk, so I started running again. I was laughing out loud at this point and stopped just in front of SOLO Wilderness Medicine School's driveway, grabbed some snow to try to wash my face off, but I ended up with more sand in my mouth than I already had. I pulled out my phone to use the camera as a mirror. Upon seeing the damage, the song "I Feel Pretty" from West Side Story immediately popped in my head. I had to snap this lovely selfie.
Then I thought about going into SOLO since there's a Wilderness EMT class going on. I'm friends with the instructors, so I would have just walked right into the classroom and had a little impromptu first aid training for the class. But I really didn't have time and I didn't need any aid, so I decided not to. I was about 3 miles from home, so there was nothing left to do but just finish my run. So on I went (with some pretty good splits in there, I might add), covering up my face with my neck gaiter any time a car passed. I was spitting sand out of my mouth the entire way. Big chunks of it, too. It was awesome. Once home, I cleaned up the face. My nose was twice its normal size and the lower lip was a collagen-injection gone wrong. I noticed something stuck in between my two front teeth, so I pulled out the floss and flossed out... yep, more sand. Too funny. Here's a picture of me right after I cleaned up trying to look like everything was cool.
The swelling has gone down considerably since then, but I still look awful. The nose is starting to bruise, but it really hasn't been that painful. The inside of the mouth bled for 3 hours and still hurts when I eat or drink, but it will heal. I'm lucky I didn't smash any other part of my head when I fell or lose my teeth. I love my teeth and would have been pissed if I'd knocked them out, although dentures are way better than they used to be. I'm kicking myself for going up that road. I knew better, but I just needed a little bit more climbing. Any run under 1000 ft of elevation gain just doesn't feel good enough. Why I couldn't have just continued on the dry road up to the top of that hill, I don't know, but I'm guessing the view at the top of  Tasker Hill was calling me. I didn't get the view I wanted since my face hitting the ground was not one of my top fave views.
Not sure what tomorrow's run will be. Probably some trails and mountains- whatever I can fit in between getting out of work and my son coming home. Whatever it is, I hope I can keep it drama-free. Oh, and one last thing. I love the 6 kudos I've gotten on Strava for this run. "Way to smash your face! Awesome!" Ha ha.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Chocorua Roads

I hit the roads around Chocorua Lake again for a shorter run. It's very quiet with few cars, so I enjoy it. The road was a just a sheet of ice covered with sand, so I wore microspikes which made for solid footing. I basically did an out-and-back, not quite hitting the end of Fowler's Mill Rd, as I didn't want to go more than 8 miles today. I chose a slightly different route on the way back and ended up with 8.4 miles. I felt heavy and slow, but my pace was actually better than last week on the same road (although last week was longer). I always feel slow in the winter. Still taking it easy, so last night I swam in the pool for 30 minutes, and tomorrow, I'll take another day off from running and do something else. Probably some weight training if I can get myself up at 4am. The decision on Sidehiller happens tomorrow, so my plans for the weekend are pending.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Restart/Whitaker Woods Snowshoe Scramble

Someone has been bugging me to start up my blog again, so here it is. It won't be like my previous blog posts. Those are way TMI and journal-like. The new ones (except for this one) will be short and sweet (or sour), basically a copy and paste and of my Strava workouts, plus race recaps. Maybe a little extra thrown in here and there. I have a track record of starting blogs and quitting them, as is pretty much stated in my very first blog post from August 2010, so don't hold the bar high for me.
I WILL do a recap. I am Leslie O'Dell. I was Leslie Beckwith. Before that, I was Leslie O'Dell. I think you get the picture. I'm still living in the Mount Washington Valley in NH, Albany, NH, to be exact. I have an 8 year old son. I still work 2 jobs, although which ones have changed many times in the last 2 years. For now, I work full-time in billing at a Chiropractor's office (snore) and per diem as an EMT for a local ambulance company. I still like to run... a lot. A bit on the obsessive side, actually. And so much so, that I'm going to find myself cross-training quite a bit this week, since I've overdone it, but it is what it is.
I'm not going to recap the last few years of my running. It's just too much. You can go on Athlinks to see my results or hit me up on Strava to see my last year and a half of the day-to-day running. I will say that I had a pretty good Fall in 2014, as I was first woman in 9 out of 11 races from Sept-Dec. Two of those included 1st overall wins, the Mt Abram Ascent (a small mountain race in Maine) and the Battle for Black Rock 28 mile 36-miler (it was originally a 36-miler, but they were forced to shorten the course by the State Park in Georgia where it was held). I didn't even know I had won Battle for Black Rock until I finished. I thought there was still a person ahead of me, so that was a nice shock.
Me after the Battle for Black Rock win with race director and ultrarunner, Sean Blanton, aka "Run Bum"
Other 2014 Fall highlights were picking up women's course records at the Squam Ridge Race and Kismet Cliff Run and setting two women's records for the White Mountain Milers Half Marathon and the Castle in the Clouds Half Marathon. Not sure 2015 will be as good of a year for me, but I'll still be out there trying. There will be some changes to my norm. Quite a bit more road racing, which will lead to another change that I'll tell ya later. I'll actually run most of the Granite State Snowshoe Series, so that I can count in the final results for once (2012 doesn't count). I'm already signed up for the Vermont City Marathon and the Mt Washington Road Race, plus a few smaller races. I still plan to do most of the USATF-NE Mountain Series this year, as well. I just learned a few days ago that I was the women's open age group winner for 2013 and 2014 for the Mountain Series. I had no idea. I thought I had just finished 3rd and 2nd, respectively. Pretty cool. So anyway...
Whitaker Woods Snowshoe Scramble- First snowshoe race of the season. I'm always a bit nervous for these since I never know who's going to show up, and I don't typically train fast for short distance. Since I'm lucky to live up here in the mountains, we've had enough snow that I have been able to get out on snowshoes enough to feel somewhat ready. The crowd was a bit overwhelming as people started to pour in. It was great to see faces I've missed the last 2 months, but I had to get out of there for some sort of a warm-up since I've decided to start doing those now. I headed out for a short 1.2 miles, running into Jim who joined me while he was finishing up the last mile of his warm-up. 1.2 was good enough for me, and I only had about 10 minutes to the start, so I stripped down some layers and got ready. Once on the starting line, I joined Abbey Wood, a pretty awesome runner from here in NH and who also happens to be on the 2015 Women's Snowshoe National Team. She's one of the nicest people I've ever met and smiles more than I do while she's running (that's saying something). She was the only one I recognized as someone to contend with so I thought starting off with her would be a good idea. I went off too fast, but that's just what I do. It's become my "thing". Once we hit the woods, Abbey easily blew past me looking pretty strong up and over the first climb. I stayed about 10 yards back cursing my "too fast start" strategy. She seemed to pull away even more on the down, and I thought I was done for sure all the way along the next flat. But as soon as we hit the next LONG climb, I just busted it out and started hauling ass. I was able to get a lead on Abbey and passed at least 3 or 4 of the men along the way. I ended up playing leap frog with a few of those men the rest of the way. I've been doing A LOT of "hill" training, so I was ready for that climb. I was able to maintain my women's lead from there on out. The course was pretty hard-packed so it stayed fast most of the way until we hit some single track at the bottom of the power lines. A runner who was fast on the wide, groomed trail got ahead of us all with a considerably slower pace through the single track. I decided against passing him until we hit the power lines again, which I did, and he proceeded to clip my snowshoe. I won't lie; I was immediately pissed, but I decided to let the first one go, as it was probably a mistake, and it was. He's a stronger runner and ended up passing me again and beating me in the end, so I'll let it slide. The rest of the race was fast and on the usual course. Despite it being frigid out, only my face was frozen while my lungs were on fire. I forgot about that burn. I ended up finishing 1st woman, 13th overall, and only a slightly faster pace than last year. I really wasn't feeling very fast except on the climbs, and that single track section where I was stuck in a line definitely took a good 15-20 seconds off my time. All-in-all, I was happy with my race. I don't think I'll add in any extra snowshoe training. I feel like it's "good enough". Post-race, I had a nice 3.8 mile cool down with Abbey and Sam Wood and Eric Narcisi on the road down by Cranmore and back. We broke all of the rules by running 4 abreast WITH traffic and still survived to tell the tale. We got back in time for the awards. A big thank you to Kevin Tilton for putting on the race and to Jess Tilton for the baked goods, which I ate all of by the afternoon. Headed to the Moat after Whitaker with teammates, Don, Chris, Karen and Gianina, to refuel (that bagel and cream cheese and cookie I had just had didn't count). Good day, good race. Hoping Sidehiller happens this Sunday. Fingers crossed.