Doyle's Emerald Necklace

Doyle's Emerald Necklace

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Snowmobile Trails

I wasn't sore after Eastern States, but I could definitely feel the fatigue in my legs all day Monday. That didn't stop me from running, though. I was antsy to get back out there after an extremely boring day at work, but I didn't want to hit the road. I decided to gamble on Corridor 19 for an easy 6 miles. Footing was soft at times, but since I wasn't looking for speed, it didn't matter. Nice slow pace.
This morning, I got up and drove to Bear Notch Rd. There was a decent layer of fresh snow on those snowmobile tracks, and the footing was even softer than the night before. But once again, I wanted to be off the road and to get some decent miles in. I did an out and back to make 10.3 total. I'm not sure how long the snowmobile trails are going to last. If the warmer temps keep up, they are going to be melted quickly.
This afternoon was another gorgeous day, so I took John and two of my dogs on a hike to Big Rock Cave from Wonalancet. The trail was in ok shape... as long as you stayed right in the middle. Any misstep off to the side and it was posthole city. Once we crossed into the Sandwich Range Wilderness, though, the trail was very packed down and solid. John really enjoyed the cave. The last time he was here, he was 18 months old, and I had carried him up. Time has really flown by! The "cave" was really awesome. I had forgotten how big the rocks were. Here are a few pics from our hike.




After the hike, we drove a few miles down the road to fill up our water jugs with water from the Sandwich Spring, and what did I see?!!!!! A MOSQUITO!!! So not ready for that. I need the break between winter and bug season, so I'm hoping this isn't an omen.

A day late, but I found some photos from Eastern States 20. I'll probably add one to my ES blog post, but here I am at the finish. I purposely waited until she finished taking the photo before I stopped my watch. Ha ha.


Finish of the Eastern States 20 Mile Race 2015

Eastern States 20 Mile Race

Sunday morning I was up around 5am. It was such an early start to the day for a race that started at 11am, but I had to get John over to his friend's house in North Conway and then get myself down to Hampton. I got there around 8:15am and hopped on a bus up to Kittery. I was fortunate to get a seat to myself, so I spread out and attempted to get a little shut-eye. There was a guy a seat over who was chatting the hell out of these younger runners the entire bus ride, so it made it impossible to get any sleep, but I still rested the eyes until we were dropped off at the high school in Kittery. I walked into the gym and got in a long line for bib pickup. I finally got my number and decided to go down one to one of the hallways where it wasn't as crowded. Once I got all of my stuff together, I decided to go ahead and put my drop bag back on the bus and hit my warm up. Just as I headed out, I heard someone run right up behind me scaring the crap out of me. It turned out to be Jim Johnson, who joined me. 20 yards later we hit a dead-end, but once we turned in the right direction, we did a 2-mile out and back. Jim's foot was really hurting him during the warmup; I wasn't sure he was even going to finish, and neither was he. We ran into Mike Wade, talking to him a bit before he wished us a not-fun race, and we all walked to the start. I saw a few people I recognized, but for the most part, I didn't know anyone. Denise Sandahl was there, so I knew I didn't stand a chance of winning, but my goal was top 5 women. There were some fast-looking ones there, too, so I was a little nervous.
The race finally started, and with the slight incline right off the bat, it kept me from going off too fast. Three women went on ahead of me, and one of them I recognized as Lindsay Willard. I knew just from her results that we were a pretty even match, so I decided just to fall in behind her for awhile since she was running the same pace I was hoping for. The first mile felt really easy, and I met Adam Wilcox who was running next to me. We chatted for a little bit, but then he pushed ahead for awhile. I kept in line right behind Lindsay, and she continued to run the perfect pace, so I just stayed put. I didn't know who was behind me, but I was really happy with the way it was going and just wanted to hang there. I could still see Denise and the first woman way up ahead and knew I had no chance of catching them, but I started to get a good feeling about 3rd. We had been running a nice sub 6:30 pace up until mile 6 when it jumped to 6:35. We hadn't hit any wind yet, so I felt like that mile had been too slow and decided to push on past Lindsay and try to make up for the lost 5 seconds from the last mile. My goal for the race was to run fairly even splits the whole way. I managed to pull that off, mostly, even though I kept alternating from sub 6:30 to 6:35. I was still liking the way it was going since I wanted to run a 2:10. I felt really good the entire race and just kept plugging away. I would check back when I could and never saw another woman the rest of the way, so I had a really good feeling I was definitely going to pull off the 3rd as long as I could hang at the pace I was going. This course is extremely beautiful, so I kept taking the time to look out at the scenery in order to get my mind off of my hurting legs. There was a bit of a headwind, but I didn't find it extremely difficult to run against. It was such a gorgeous day that it was hard to really complain about anything during the race. We finally got within a mile of the finish and knew I had 3rd in the bag, but I wasn't sure about my time. The race director had announced the course would be a little long so I had a feeling I wouldn't hit 2:10, but I was happy that I was at 2:09:something when I hit the 20 mark. The finish was a quick turn to the left and right into the shoot. I noticed the clock said 2:12:something and got really confused since there was no way it took me 3 minutes to run .2 miles. But I didn't care too much at that point. I was just glad to be done. I had finished 3rd woman, 17th overall (if the results are correct) in a time of 2:11:14 on my watch. I finally saw a couple of people I knew and spoke with them for a bit before meeting back up with Jim who said his foot was fine the whole race. I knew that was a relief for him since he thought he might have to drop. He ended up taking 2nd after all of that. So it was a good day for the Valley runners down there. We grabbed our drop bags and hopped on the bus back to the post-race food and awards at the hotel. The bus ride ended up taking probably 45 minutes due to the race traffic, and I was starting to hurt from the prolonged sitting. After we were dropped at the hotel, the walk back to my car felt really good to loosen up. I changed clothes then went back to the hotel to grab some food and wait for the awards. I found Jim at a table eating black licorice jelly beans. I don't know what that was about, but those things are gross. I grabbed some food, and we started talking about the times. I swore that they were off by at least a minute. That was confirmed when the award winners were called and all of the times were way off. Jim immediately went to work and found someone involved to start fixing it. Denise Sandahl ended up joining us for a bit. It was really good to finally meet and chat with her for awhile. While we were still sitting there, a guy came over to take down our times from our watches for the race and then set about fixing the 20 mile times. It didn't take long before they announced that the times would be adjusted by 1:18 to show the proper times for everyone. I was happy to see the fix since I ran hard for that 2:11. We left shortly thereafter to walk back to the car and then I drove back to North Conway to pick up John and head home.
All in all, it was a great day. Perfect weather, and I was really happy with my race. I loved the course and, despite the time and results issues, thought this was a great event. Putting a race like this together is a lot of work, and I thought it went very well. 
ES20 definitely gave me a little boost in confidence about the Vermont City Marathon. My goal there is a sub-3, and, now, I feel like I just might be able to pull it off. I'm so glad I chose to run today. I really needed that test.
Editing to add some photos:



Saturday, March 28, 2015

Zero

Took a zero day from running, but John and I hit up the last day of the ski season at Black Mt. John decided to try pond skimming for the first time and had a good run. 

video

Eastern States 20 in the morning. Nervous, but that's the norm for me.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Snowmobile Trail and Road and Work Drama

Yesterday turned out to be quite the interesting day. I woke up to the official ambulance email containing the new published schedule. FINALLY! New town contracts created the need for a new staffing schedule due to shift cuts. Having to keep my trap shut and even lie when asked about it for the last month was starting to really get to me. I knew I was going to be on it. I've known for awhile, but the issue was that at least 4 people were let go, and I was the ONLY addition to the schedule. This ties into the drama that exploded the other night while I was at SOLO. My friend was listening to the coworker (whom I ousted from the Wed 24 hr shift) scream at our boss over the phone for being taken off the schedule. I was informed my name was mentioned in this screaming fit. Said person brought it on himself; it pays to work hard and do your job. He had to leave before our staff meeting the next morning because he was too angry with me. We used to be friends, but I think it's a safe assumption that we are not anymore. That's all I can say about this even though there is actually more to this story. But I am very excited to be going back to the ambulance. I realized my mistake in leaving by the second week at the chiropractor, and it's taken me almost 7 months to get back, but I finally got it. Relief. I like the crazy, uncertainty of the job since you never know what's going to happen over the course of a shift. And in celebration, I'm considering ending my 7 month long prank that I've been playing on one of the crews since my last full-time day last September. But I'll end it for maybe two weeks, only to just start it back up again. Ha ha. Pranks and EMS workers go hand-in-hand.
So since I'm supposed to be writing about my running (which seems to have taken a backseat to my drama lately), I guess I'll mention yesterday's run. Although, compared to the story I wish I could write here, it will seem very boring. :) Knowing I had to hit the staff meeting before heading to the office, I decided to stick close to home and run on the snowmobile trail in Madison. I was happy to find the trail fairly solid even after the warm temps, so I ran a pretty decent pace up to Lead Mine Rd and back. It's exactly 8 miles from the closed gas station where I usually park. Good rolling hills. Rushed home, made it to the staff meeting. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw the person mentioned above wasn't there. From there I headed into the office where I would be meeting the new person I had to train. And, um, wow. Not fun at all. A very drab personality who is too cool for school. I guess she was a former big wig in the Bay area who seems to think she doesn't need to learn my job because it's beneath her. So, I'm training her in the few things she's willing to learn, and then she'll just have to get the rest on her own. I'm done. The office went from laughter all day on Wednesday to a very somber mood on Thursday. I was so willing to teach the other woman, but this one just brought me down big time. Just before we left for the day, she said to my other coworker and me, "Life just seems so unnecessarily hard here." I busted out laughing (in my head). She is in for a rude awakening; this isn't even close to life in San Fran. I think she's just in culture shock and will hopefully come around because if she doesn't, she will be miserable here.
Today was much of the same. I was teaching someone who appeared to be extremely frustrated with systems in the office and was expressing it constantly. I do understand that frustration, but it just wasn't doing any good or helping anyone. My boss was acting really weird in front of her, too. I wanted to walk out. 3 days left, though. I can do it.
Thank goodness we're out at noon on Fridays. I have 2 hours to get in a midday run, so I usually go somewhere close. Kevin and Alan had run a loop in Center Conway on Monday that I had never run before so I decided to check it out. I parked at the lake beach at Conway Lake where John and I are a fixture all summer and headed up Brownfield Rd. I actually felt really heavy and slow, like I had just gained 10 pounds, but I'm finding that I often feel this way on midday runs, so I think it just isn't my best time of day for a run (or so I thought). I wanted to add on a little so I ventured off onto Gulf Rd which was a really quiet dirt road with a pretty long uphill. The road was surprisingly solid, hardly a bit of mud. I did a little out-and-back and then crossed right over to Davis Hill Rd to loop back to Brownfield Rd and back to my car. I was surprised at how hilly it was and can't believe I've never thought to run out there. I've run Potter Rd before, but I really enjoyed Gulf Rd and Davis Hill. I ended up with 8.6 miles and decent elevation gain of 530ft. What I wasn't expecting was to see I had run it as fast as I did at 6:52/mi. With the climbing and the lead legs, I thought for sure it was slow. I really only run by feel when I'm training and never look at my pace. I always seem to be off from where I think I am to where I actually am, so I really need to get a grasp on matching the two up. Then, I get in road races and constantly eye my splits on my watch. I think there might be some sort of disconnect there that I need to work on now that I'm road racing again. But knowing me, I won't work on it. Ha ha.
This afternoon, I went up to Tin Mountain Conservation Center to meet with my new liaison for the Dirty Girl Trail Race that I will be putting on May 31st. This will be its second year; last year was a huge success. It's a trail race only for women that I came up with after taking over the Get a Running Start Race in 2013. I kept the Running Start race on the road for the first year but changed the distance and the venue. It was also pretty successful, but I thought it had lost its niche and wanted to completely revamp it, which I did. I don't know if that pissed people off or not, but, honestly, it doesn't matter. The women who came out last year "loved" it. I had over 100 registrants and 80-something finishers. It was definitely a course that no one expected (except my friend, Kyla, to whom I gave a course tour prior-to; she also ended up being last year's winner). The 3.8 mile distance was deceptive... on purpose. I also made sure it went the most difficult way possible. I purposely put the finish line visible around mile 3.4 just so people thought they were finishing, only to learn they were going right past it and had more to go. It was awesome. The wounds, the suffering, the compliments ("You used to be my friend," "Fuck you," etc). For most people, it truly was a sufferfest since most of them were new to trail racing. That was my goal, so this year will be much of the same. Today, I was asked to move a portion of it off of a certain trail; I pretty much said no. ha ha. Then I thought better of it and said, "Let's just play it by ear." I might as well have winked as I said that. So it will depend on the Lady Slipper situation that week. I really don't want to reroute it since it's one of the many difficult portions of the race, so I'm crossing my fingers. My only complaint from racers last year was the bottleneck after entering the single track; I tried to explain trail racing, but newbies really don't get it. So to reward them for their request, I'm probably going to move the start onto the road for more room to spread out. To punish them for their request, I'm going to start it on the downhill side so they have to start on an uphill. Ha ha. Oh and my shirt design idea is sure to offend someone, but that's my nature. Hoping I can pull it off. So if you're reading this, and you're a woman, sign up now. If you're a man, talk some random woman into running it and tell her it's easy. You/They can sign up here: Dirty Girl Trail Race.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

SOLO and Back

Today ended up being an interesting day. The new front desk girl at work has strep throat and had to call out, so it was just my replacement and me. I ended up training her in the front desk job, as well as mine. I'd been training her for a week now. One of the coolest people ever, seriously. But right around 3pm, my boss calls her into his office and lets her go. Wtf. He told her she was learning too slowly. Meanwhile, he had already hired someone else. So now, I get to train another new person for the next week. It took a lot for me not to walk out right there (just like my two recent coworkers did), but I kept my cool and carried on, working my job and the front desk for the rest of the day. I can say that I am not very happy about having to start over with someone new tomorrow, though.
After work, I raced home to change into my running clothes and run up to SOLO for their monthly seminar so I could snag 2 CEUs. 3.6 miles 7:09/mi. Once again I showed up sweating like a pig with major stink, but one of my friends hugged me anyway. I'm sure he regretted that immediately after. Ha ha. Not long after the seminar began, my phone started blowing up with text messages, and since curiosity got the better of me, I had to look. The drama at the ambulance with the new schedule change had begun and people were getting word they were being let go. The saga is still unfolding, and I'm sure I will have more to share tomorrow.
So anyway, I decided to stop being rude and listen to the rest of the seminar talk, which was actually pretty interesting and always good to refresh on. After that, I hung around for about 10 minutes with a bunch of EMTs I know and have worked with. Funny that half of the conversation was about running, and I was the only one of the six of us who runs. I didn't even start the conversation. Ha ha.
It was time to run home, so I stepped outside into... snow, of course. It wasn't that bad, but I could hardly see anything except the snow flurries with my headlamp. 3.6 miles back at 6:50/mi (mostly downhill on the way back). 7.2 miles for the day. Good for a Wednesday. I'm up in about 6.5 hours, and I have no idea what my run will be. I guess I'll figure that out then.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Valley Loop

I got up early this morning to get in a longish run, but then still spent 1.5 hours procrastinating with coffee and reading the local paper. I finally dragged myself out the door when I realized I was going to run out of time if I didn't get in gear. I had a loose plan in mind, but pretty much made up my route as I went along, running a big loop through Albany, Conway and Madison. I had no idea what the mileage would be, but as I was running up 153, I knew it was going to be close to 15. And I was close. 15.4 miles, 7:32/mi, 1069 ft of elevation gain. Pretty decent run. I started to get tired towards the end, but I was starting to feel hungry. I hadn't eaten anything yet all this morning. And, I still waited an hour to eat after I got home.
The rest of the day was uneventful. John and I took a short walk up near Thorn Pond in Bartlett. The sun felt so good that as soon as we got home, I spent the next 1.5 hours sitting in it. I've been dreaming of this for what seems like forever, and it was definitely as wonderful as I remembered. I even broke out the bare feet from their winter hibernation.
Pardon the toenail polish leftover from 3 months ago. Lol.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Frost Mountain

Long day at work still training my replacement. I was able to get out for a ski at lunch, but I had to cut it short since the trail was just too icy. Looks like my last few shifts will be back to just taking a walk at lunch. I found out today that I will still have one more full week after this one at the chiropractor. The start day at the next job got pushed back a week. A little disappointed, but that's ok; it's not really a big deal. I can handle another week. The second new job should start next week, but I can do that one whenever I feel like it. I have to keep both jobs under wraps, as told by both of my managers, because of the potential drama it could cause if I started blabbing. The drama will be there, but I guess this their way of putting it off.
After work, I drove over to Brownfield, as planned, to finally find Frost Mt. I hit the snowmobile trails and found my way right up the mountain. It was just before sunset, so I enjoyed a beautiful sky up there and for the rest of my run. It was very beautiful. I stopped at the top for awhile to enjoy the view and take a few pictures.

The mileage wasn't really there so I just decided to wander around a bit, running down and back on the snowmobile trails, and I ended up at Frost Mt Yurts. I ran on some of their xc ski trails and even checked out one of the yurts. Pretty sweet spot. I got to my car right at dark. I took it easy on this run just trying to enjoy it instead of busting out the speed. 6.4 miles 10:09/mi pace 1408ft gain.
I realized tonight that it's only about 9 weeks away from the Vermont City Marathon. Or should I say 9 weeks away until I totally embarrass myself? VCM- Invited Athletes
Yikes.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

March 22

I have to admit it felt great to sleep in for a second morning this weekend. Sleeping in for me is 7am, but compared to 5am, that's a lot. Got up, took the dogs out and then had coffee. Once John woke up I made him breakfast, changed into my running clothes and headed out with plans to do 13 loops around the neighborhood. 2 minutes later, I was back in the house changing into different running clothes to run on the treadmill. Last night's wet snow fall had left the road completely covered in ice, so I had to abort my outside running plans. I knew that I had no other option but the treadmill AND that I had to do 12 miles on it. Omg. I didn't have 12 miles planned for any training purposes. 12 miles was chosen because today would have been my 12th wedding anniversary. I decided last night that I wanted to run 12 miles in order to celebrate that it WASN'T my 12th anniversary. Seems weird, but fitting. It's like a celebration of being free. So when I realized I had to do this on the treadmill, I considered bagging the whole idea. But in the end, I did it. 12 miles. Happy Non-Anniversay to me! Hell, yes. :) 12 miles 7:13/mi pace. Felt really good.
The wind had really picked up, but John and I had to get outside to do something. I decided a hike would be better than skiing and chose Peaked Mt as we were driving out of the driveway. It ended up being cold and windy, but the sun was shining and hardly any other people were out there. John didn't complain one bit and seemed to actually enjoy himself. The only problem for me is that he is really slow. In the summer, it's not really a big deal, but in that cold wind, it was killing me. I kept having to stop and wait, which would leave me getting cold. So I just encouraged him to keep moving as much as I could, but the hike still ended up mostly like the picture below. Ha ha ha.
John stopped while I freeze to death. Lol.
Despite the slow speed, we still had a great hike. Any time I can get him in the mountains without a single complaint and with a lot of smiles is a win in my book.
Peaked summit

Peaked summit

Peaked summit

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Hill and Loops

It was back to the regularly scheduled programming for my raceless weekend. I have to admit it feels really weird, and I'm definitely having withdrawal symptoms. I couldn't do enough today, so I ran twice, downhill skied, did an upper body workout and an ab workout.
I had to stay close to home, so I took the dogs on a snowshoe run up and down Heavenly Hill twice. I wasn't exactly dying to do a snowshoe run, but it was either that or posthole the hell out of my trail. 2x Heavenly Hill came out to 2.7 miles in 42:18, 975 ft of gain. Obviously not pushing myself. When I was done, I changed into my Hokas (which felt really good after a 3 month hiatus) and hit the neighborhood for 6 loops. I also took it pretty easy on this one. 5.6 miles 7:34/mi pace. 8.3 miles for the day.
Skiied with John at Black Mt after that. Spring skiing at its finest. Then I ordered us pizzas to-go from the Shannon Door on the way up to Pinkham Notch to get spring water. They weren't ready yet, so I got to enjoy the live music for a little bit. It was funny; the stale beer smell immediately made me think of Rick's Bar where I used to work when we lived in Key West. On the way home, I got a text from my mom. "Just got your message. Your mailbox is full. Picking Nannie up for dinner. Call back if you are sober." What?!! Ha ha ha! Not sure what that meant, but I did call her back and made sure it was before I fell off the wagon. :)
More loops tomorrow for my run. I'm not sure how many I can handle, but I might have to break out the music for that one.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Spring!

It didn't feel like Spring this morning at 8 degrees, but by the time I was out of work at noon, the weather was gorgeous. Sunny AND warm. I decided to venture a few miles down the road to where Kevin Tilton ran yesterday to check out the snowmobile trails and, hopefully, also Frost Mt if I had the time. After sitting at my desk for almost 6 hours training my replacement, I was raring to go. The trail conditions were perfect and really pretty. Not too much elevation, but some gentle rolling hills. The trail started to climb about 4 miles in, so I figured I was on my way up Frost, but just below the summit, I came across a sign pointing to the summit of Peary Mt.
Obviously, I had gone wrong somewhere, but I was close to my turn around time so I headed up to this summit. It was an amazing view! And so clear. I could see Mt Washington and a good stretch of the Whites.
My mileage hit 5 miles on dot up there, so the timing and mileage were perfect. I ran back the way I came and finished up 10.1 miles in about 1:19. Peary Mt was worth the mistake for sure. I looked back at Kevin's run to see we had gone in opposite directions at an intersection, so I know where I went wrong. I might try to get to Frost Mt next week after work. Only one more full week, plus a day, until I will no longer be working in Fryeburg. This week cannot go by fast enough.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Road and Mountain

Yesterday, I didn't get myself up at 4am (as usual) for my treadmill run so I decided to try running at lunch. The wind was still insane, but Haley Town Rd was pretty protected, so I headed that way, changed clothes as quickly as I could and then headed out. I only had about 30 minutes, so I just ran out for 16 minutes (mostly uphill) and then turned around. 4.6 miles at 6:42/mi pace. Quickly changed clothes and went back to work sweating like a dog. I was able to pull my look together for the most part, but my hair gave me away. Sitting in my office around 5pm, I heard the sound of an ambulance siren and knew it was "my" truck, A6, coming through Fryeburg, so I knew I was going into work at 7pm. (A6 is the only truck I used to work on when I was full-time up until last September, so I still call it my truck.) At 6p, I hoofed it out of work back to Haley Town for a quick 3.2 mile run 6:18/mi pace and then made it to the ambulance with 10 minutes to spare to change into my uniform. And, yes, I ran twice without showering. Baby wipes are awesome, except for my hair, which stayed under my hat.
The night was pretty quiet... until about 15 minutes after I'd fallen into a deep sleep. Tone dropped. I was so out of it. Once in the truck, I grabbed the mic and signed us on to the call. No response from dispatch. Huh. So then switched channels to call Memorial to let them know what we were going out for. No response. My partner, Eric, looks at me, laughs and then picks up the CORRECT mic and throws it to me. Yeah, I had just grabbed the PA mic and blasted my idiotic voice through the neighborhood and down the street. Ha ha ha. One woman shit show. Nice. Absolutely hilarious, though. I would by lying if I said that was the first time I've done that. Our call just ended up being a sign-off, so we headed back to base and enjoyed a quiet night. (Ok, not totally quiet. A little work place drama did ensue after we got back to the base, but all I have to say about that is #iwin.) The other crew got back at 3:30am, so I was off the clock then, but, as usual, just spent the night. Got up, hit Starbucks for a coffee. Pulled up at the drive-thru to find my two friends (and former Starbucks coworkers) arguing that one knew it was me and the other was convinced it wasn't me because I didn't order my drink through the drive-thru the way I normally do. Ha ha.
I had been planning to hit Mt Kearsarge North today since I knew the trail would be in prime condition after the cold temps. And it was perfect even with my dull microspikes. I ran all the way up without stopping in 50:16 and was surprised to only be about 45 seconds off my fastest time. That's hopeful since I ran 49:32 at the end of September when I was running mountains pretty hot. The wind was whipping big time up there, but the view was awesome. Totally clear and beautiful. I stayed in the tower for a bit, but once I started to get cold, I knew I had to get moving down. I decided to run down FAST to try to catch Jim Johnson's Strava CR which he ran 2 years ago in 21:19. I was flying and took a pretty big fall at one point that had me rolling and ending up on my back. Hurt a little, but I always seem to start laughing when I find myself in an awkward position sprawled on the trail. Got right up and kept moving finishing in 23:37. Over 2 minutes off, but I'm good for second (booted Kevin to third ha ha).


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Easy Days

Yesterday, I woke up surprised not to be sore at all from New Bedford, but my legs still felt a little fatigued. I had 10 hours of sitting at work to give my legs more rest than they need. (I did get in the usual 2.9 mile ski during lunch, though.)Work was interesting; I gave my two-weeks notice. My boss took it well at first, but then started to get weird. I could see he was upset and started avoiding eye contact with me. I hate giving notice, although I've done it more times than I can count. I'm a pro job quitter. LOL. I like to play the field of jobs, and so far the only two I've stayed at the longest are flight attendant and EMT. The only two that I've loved. I was professional dog walker, which I also loved, but dealing with the people (owners) wasn't always fun. So I lasted just over 6 months at this office job. The office job is not for me. I can't do it. It was sucking the life out of me. I found myself staring out the window way too often. I wanted to quit by week two, but I stuck it out for just over 6 months. My boss said, "Well, I normally ask for 4 weeks notice..." Yeah, well, you're not getting it. Sorry. My other two coworkers that I've had since I've been there both walked out on him without any notice (one had been there for 13 years!). He's lucky he's getting two weeks from me, but I like to be professional. I gave my notice after we were done with patients for the day, so I didn't have to deal with his "disappointment" for too long. I'm nervous for what the next two weeks will hold, but I can almost bet it won't be fun. I just have to remember that I see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it is BRIGHT.
Needless to say, I was ready for a run after work. I wanted to take it easy and do short miles, but I was bored with the usual runs, so I drove away from work and took a right on 113 with no idea where I was going. I figured a run idea would come to me as I drove, and it did. I decided to park in the snowmobile lot near Sherman Farm and run on 113 to Green Hill Road. Green Hill Rd can be a little sketchy in some parts (trust me, I've been in some of those homes), but it was pretty quiet. Really flat. 6.3 miles 7:00/mi pace. Out and back. I got it in just before sunset. I felt pretty good then felt sore about an hour later. Hmm.
This morning, I woke up to snow falling (big surprise!). It wasn't heavy, but I thought it might mean slippery roads. I wasn't up for that today, so I decided to jump on my treadmill for an 8-mile run. As always 1-3% elevation, alternating every half mile. 56:50, 7:06/mi. Also felt pretty good. I just listened to music today and daydreamed. Got me through it.
John and I decided to hit the slopes after he came home, so we drove up to Black Mt to find the place closed. I have no idea why it was closed, and I was pretty miffed about it. It's supposed to be open and wasn't posted anywhere. I just hated it that we wasted time (and gas) driving all the way up there. John was disappointed and said he was looking forward to skiing today. We sat in the parking lot for about 10 minutes while I tried to come up with Plan B. I remembered that Cranmore and Bretton Woods had special ticket deals for St Patrick's Day, so I decided to say fuck it and just go to Cranmore. $34 total for both of our tickets wasn't bad, but I hate buying ski tickets when I have season passes somewhere else. It was so worth it, though. We don't ski at Cranmore much since it is usually packed with a million people, but today was perfect. Hardly anyone there, especially the last hour. The skiing was great. We had a super fun time, so it was worth the $34 for sure.
Tomorrow, I have another 10 hour day, followed by the overnight on-call shift at the ambulance. I'm planning to get up early to run on the treadmill and then get in a quick 3-mile run right after work. This week might shape up to be low miles again. I'll be lucky to get much over 40 this week, but that's ok. I need a recovery week anyway.

Monday, March 16, 2015

New Bedford Half Marathon 2015

I made the decision on Friday to take my former in-laws (John's grandparents) up on their offer for John and I to stay with them in Marshfield on Saturday night instead of driving down early. We headed out just in time to miss the snow and made it down by the afternoon. We got invited over to my former sister-in-law's house for a St. Patrick's Day party that they hold every year in conjunction with the Marshfield St Patrick's Day 5K, but the race was postponed, and only a few close friends came. The family is still great to me, but this kind of situation is awkward. Plus, I don't drink the night before races, so it was a little dull. We stayed for awhile, but I couldn't really relate to anyone there. Plus it was just weird for everyone there since I'm now the "ex-wife", so as soon as we finished dinner, John and I were out of there. 
I got up early the next morning, had coffee, took out the dogs and then headed down to New Bedford to get there by 8:30. I thought parking would be tight, but it turned out not to be a problem, and I parked on the street right next to the Y. I was there so early that I got my bib number then hung out in my car listening to music. I met up with Barbara McManus to grab my CMS shirt and singlet so that I would have some team gear to wear for the race. At this point I was antsy so I ventured out for a warm-up. I had a great running tour of the New Bedford housing projects. It was nostalgic, really. Reminded me of the projects from my hometown of Athens, GA and of Fayetteville, NC, where I also lived. Ha ha. I did have to dodge a lot of broken glass, and I never seemed to escape the hood. I kind of got lost as I was running. I was pretty sure I was headed back in the right direction, but after awhile, I wasn't so sure anymore, and the warm-up ended up being longer than I had planned at 3.4 miles. I did eventually realize where I was and ran back to my car to change clothes for the race. I decided on the long sleeve shirt (which I would end up regretting in the first mile of the race, but it wasn't so bad in the wind). I finally left the solitude of my car to run to the start line, but I was there so early that I just kept running around. It was a big crowd, and I didn't see anyone I knew except Scott Mason who was out with his camera. It was finally time to line up. The weather had ended up sunny with blue skies and temps in the 40s. Perfect for race day. I was lined up over to the left, but then I heard the announcer say for the elite women to line up on the right. I stayed where I was. The guy next to me said, "Isn't that you?" I said, "Oh no. Not me," but then I was watching who was lining up and thinking, "I can beat her and her and her... oh hell no. I'm lining up over there." Good thing I did, too, or I would have been stuck back a little bit with the 7 min pace people and without any eye on those women who were lined up in front of me. I lined up right with Apryl Sabadosa, whom I was hoping to meet anyway, and I knew she would be a good even pace with me. There were still a lot of women in front of me whom I knew I could beat, but I planned to go off fast and pass them. And fast, I was. TOO FAST. I had a ridiculous 1 mile split at 5:50/mi. I knew that I was being stupid, but I wanted to get around the people I knew for sure (or at least believed) I could beat. Plus, I always start out fast. I don't like to get stuck, and I'd rather go out at a quicker pace and then cut it back a little in the second mile. My second mile was 6:14/mi, so I thought that was perfect. When I hit my third mile split at 6:32, I panicked a bit. I felt my effort was faster than that and had a feeling this race wasn't going to go down like I had hoped. Fortunately, I was running right next to another woman who was pushing me along up the hill, so I did regain a little. After that was a long downhill, and I gave myself a little push down that and then along the flat all the way through mile 9. I caught up to and passed Michael Narcisi, but that only lasted about 4 miles. We hit the headwind around mile 9, and I started to sink. I had a gel (puke) in hopes of a comeback, but at mile 10, I was hurting, bad. And I can't just blame the wind. My legs felt heavy, and I started getting passed left and right. Michael Narcisi was one of them. He said hi and pushed on. I know he was hoping for a 1:20:ish, so we were both going to fall way short of our goals. We hit the hill at mile 12. I actually started to feel better, but I was still getting passed. My pace was 6:49/mi for this one. Ouch. Finally, I hit the top of the hill and just picked it up to the finish. 18th woman in 1:23:25. I got through the finish and kept walking to my car since I was getting cold fast. I was thinking how disappointed I was in my race. I really thought I could do better than that, but it just wasn't how it played out. It's still my second fastest half marathon time, so it's not like it's horrible, but the disappointment was still there. I warmed up in my car for a little bit, put on some warm layers and headed out for a mile cool down. I ran up the hill to see the people in the race still climbing the last big hill. People were suffering, and I saw full-on tears. I was glad I was done. The cool down actually felt really good and took all of the pain out of my legs. I ended up with a total of 17.5+ miles for the day (I didn't record the extra running to the start and around pre-race). Not bad. I hit up the YMCA gym for the chowder and fish sandwich. It was super crowded, so I just grabbed my food and an empty seat next to random people I didn't know. Chatted them up a bit then went in search of the results. Because I had exited the gym, I had to go outside and all the way around the Y back to the entrance to find out the results had JUST been posted in the gym. Ha ha. On my way over, I met some of my CMS teammates and some of the Western Mass Distance Project people that I've only run into at a few mountain races. It was a huge meet 'n greet. Haha. Kind of cool. I'm used to being an antisocial loner who knows no one at these larger races, so I enjoyed meeting and talking to people.
Photo by Krissy Kozlosky

I had a long drive ahead of me so I hit the road. I went by Marshfield and picked up John, who had a fun time with his grandparents and cousins, and we started what would be a 5 hour trip home. The snow had already started and just got worse as we headed north. Rt 1 was the worst. Unplowed, piles of snow, 25 mph or slower. Excruciating. I-95 was a little better, and once I got into NH, the snow had stopped and the roads were plowed. All was going well until I crested the top of the bridge into Dover. I first saw brake lights and then a car in the left lane that had gone completely sideways to a dead stop at the base of the bridge. I was in the right lane and able to shift down quickly to slow me down, but as soon as I hit the brake, I realized the road was covered in black ice. We were all sliding down the road. The car in front of me was able to stop. I was able to stop. Two cars in the left lane swerved sideways and ended up parallel to the car that had originally lost control. I immediately looked in my rear-view mirror because I had a bad feeling and sure enough I see this large SUV barreling at us, and there was no way it could stop in time. She was going to hit us directly from behind, and then I was probably going to get pushed into the car in front of me. I knew she was going to hit us no matter what, and I had seconds to figure out how to minimize that impact. I quickly cut to the left as far as I could without hitting the 3 parallel cars. Fortunately, I lined us up perfectly. She ended up hitting my passenger-side bumper and tail light and pushed us forward. I stopped with enough space in between me and the 3 car pile-up. John was asleep and barely even woke up from the impact; it really wasn't that bad. Neither of us (nor my 3 dogs) were hurt. The car that had been in front of me was able to squeeze through and move out so we followed. I was getting the hell out of there before more cars came over the top of the bridge to hit us. It ended being a long ordeal. About 5-10 minutes after we pulled over, another car slammed into the bridge, and the car that had originally caused this whole thing was still stuck sideways on the bridge. The police and rescue crews had to get to them first and then the other car that was probably totaled, so we waited an hour. The State Trooper said there were only 4 of them and 5 accidents already. We saw the accidents once we finally left. 2 trucks upside down into a tree and a ditch. The woman who hit me just happened to be from the Valley, so that was kind of funny. Her car, unfortunately, wasn't driveable, and I couldn't give her a ride since she had 3 kids. She felt bad about the accident, but I wasn't upset with her at all; there was nothing she could do to stop her car on that ice.
The ride home was slow. Black ice was everywhere. Once we finally got into Albany, I passed my street and went right to Almost There for dinner. I hadn't eaten anything except the post-race chowder. I was starving AND needed a beer. I ate my entire hamburger and fries. John ate a bite of his hamburger and maybe a fry. :) We got home at 9:30pm. Longer day than I had expected that's for sure. I'm just glad we weren't hurt and were able to drive home.
Next weekend is my first race-free weekend in about a month and a half. That's going to feel strange, but it will be a good break. Then it's Eastern States 20 the following weekend. 
*I thought I would add a big thank you to the organizers and volunteers of the New Bedford Half. Very well organized!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Peaked and Middle Mountains

It feels like forever since I've run in one of my favorite places, the Green Hills. I love the small mountains here, and I've probably run them more than any other mountains in the area. I was a little nervous about the trail conditions since the temps were rising, but I was pleasantly surprised by a solid trail. However, I wasn't surprised by the frozen posthole footprints covering the trail. It's pretty common to start seeing that by mid-March. I don't think people realize that when they posthole through the snow on the trail, it refreezes and becomes dangerous footing for other people, but oh well. I wasn't too bothered by it really; it just meant being extra careful not to step in one of those holes and twist an ankle on the way down. The run up Middle Mt was great. The weather was beautiful. I ran into two sets of people. The first was two women who were really struggling. After I passed, I asked myself, "Were they carrying sleds?" I kept on and ran into two guys all geared out for their Mt Washington summit attempt. Oh wait... what? Continued on up to the top of Middle. I've missed this mountain the last few months. It holds a special place in my heart. When John's dad was deployed to Iraq in 2007, John and I lived alone up here, and I carried him up Middle Mt at least twice a week during that summer. It brings back good memories of the when John was around 1.5 years old, such a busy, fun age, and when it was just the two of us for 15 months. It was also a place I have run to for comfort when I was having a rough day. I reached the summit of Middle about 2 minutes slower than my best, so I obviously have a lot of mountain training to build back up. I had to take a couple of minutes to take in the view and enjoy the silence. There was no wind, and I could only hear my breathing. I rarely have that these days, so any chance I get to experience that feels very refreshing.
I headed back down Middle and then turned on the connector trail for Peaked Mountain. I passed the two women again, and yes, they were carrying sleds. They were fairly hefty women and one of them was struggling even more than before. They were super friendly and smiled as I passed them by again, but I was kind of worried about what they were planning.  Made it to the top of Peaked and took a few minutes there, too. I tried to find Heavenly Hill from there, but I had forgotten my sunglasses and the brightness was really making it hard to see. I headed back down and passed those women again, still carrying sleds. I figured I'd better hot-foot it out of there fast before I got involved in some rescue for their sledding accident. LOL. I had no idea where they were planning to use those sleds. I headed down the Peaked Mt Trail and found the posthole footprints to be about triple the amount as on the Middle Mt Trail. I just slowed it down a bit and watched my footing, which I'm actually pretty good at. (Carrying John all over the White Mts alone in 2007 taught me how to walk, and later run, on these gnarly trails; falling while carrying him on my back when we were alone in the mountains was NOT an option.) Made it down without any falls or broken ankles. 5 miles in just over an hour with 1687ft of elevation gain. I'm hoping to start hitting the mountains more again for the next 2 weeks, until the snow becomes slush. It means shorter runs, but I've been missing it so much. I'll still be hitting the roads for most of my runs, but I want to be getting in 1-2 mountain runs a week, if the conditions hold up.
The rest of the afternoon was great. My friend, Megan, ended up in the Starbucks drive-thru in front of me and paid for my order, which was such a nice surprise. I went from there to the salon where my friend, Nina, works to have her spice up my hair. I'm a natural blonde, but I went even more blonde. I love it. I felt like I was getting pampered this afternoon. Not sure I deserve it, but I'll take it. :)
Headed down to Mass in the morning, so I've decided it will be a zero day. Probably not a bad idea. I would like to have semi-fresh legs for New Bedford.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Snow...AGAIN?!

Yesterday ended up being an unplanned, short run around the neighborhood. I got a call at lunch from a supervisor at the ambulance saying someone had banged out of the on-call shift for that night and asked if I wanted it. I was reluctant to take it since I didn't have my work clothes with me (meaning I'd be stuck going straight home and running around the neighborhood), and I wasn't sure I wanted to risk pulling an all-nighter with New Bedford coming up on Sunday. I was used to them before when I worked there full-time, but now, they leave me wrecked for 2-3 days. But the two things that got me were the extra money and my awesome partner, Jen, who is one of my best friends. So I agreed but hoped it was going to be an easy money night (not getting called in and just getting my stipend pay). The weather was so nice, and I was happy to get a decent x-c ski in during my lunch break. As soon as I was out of work, I went straight home, changed into running clothes and hit the road fast. I wanted to be done by 7pm, when the on-call shift started. I ran 3.7 miles at 6:55/mi pace around the neighborhood. Short, quick and boring, but it was still light out so it made it bearable. Finished up right at 7. I ended up getting what I wished for, too. No call. And I got about 9 hours of sleep. So relieved.
I had a specific road run planned for this morning, but when I headed to the coffee pot and looked out my kitchen window, I saw IT. IT was on my car. SNOW! wtf. It wasn't enough to get bent out of shape about... unless you are planning to run on certain roads that will now be slippery!!! Grr. But being as stubborn as I am (and I'm sure that's news to everyone), I decided I was just going to do that run anyway and modify it as I went along. Sadly, I had to put the trail shoes back on and headed out to sloppy, slippery roads. I ran up Bald Hill Rd with the intention of going back via the Kanc, but after I saw Chase Hill completely covered, I knew the hill down the backside would be treacherous, so I turned around and headed back towards 16 and hit Conway Village where the sidewalks were nearly a death trap. Kevin Tilton drove by and honked as I was making my way around the MANY icy patches on the sidewalks. (I could sense the envy in Kevin's eyes. That awesome snowshoe mountain run he had planned for later would never compare to the greatness of my run this morning.) Good thing the Conway voters decided to turn their sidewalk maintenance back over to the town at Tuesday's vote. Those things are even bad in the summer. And don't get me started on the crosswalks. I finally got out of the village and headed up Tasker and Allard Hill. At the top of Allard Hill, I turned around, and on the way back down, I started getting hit with the most insane wind gusts coming from the side. Twice, I literally almost had my legs knocked out from under me. When I turned onto Pequawket, I had a head wind all the way back to 113, but I still managed a really decent pace of 7:26/mi for the 10.6 miles and 858ft of gain. I was surprised since I had to slow it way down on most of the roads for the first half of the run due to the the snow/slush. My legs were hurting a bit today. Calves, quads and hamstrings. Not sure why. I wasn't sore after Saturday's race or yesterday, but maybe it's DOMS from Tuesday's snowmobile trail run. I don't know. Tomorrow will be a shorter day, and then Saturday will be a zero... I think. I might do 3 or so on the treadmill before we head for the South Shore. I have to get out of here before the snow hits, so John and I are spending Saturday night in Marshfield. Once again, snow has made me alter my plans. Oh well, it will be gone soon. I can't wait to sit in the Spring sun on my deck.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Corridor 19/Mason Brook Trail

This time change is still messing with me. Getting up at 5am, which is actually 4am, yesterday left me dead tired by the time I got home from my run last night. I was sound asleep by 9:30pm and ended up getting over 10 hours of sleep, but I still had trouble waking up this morning. I'm always strapped for time on Tuesday mornings so I had to make a decision quickly on where I was running. I decided to go over to Corridor 19 behind Walmart. It's been awhile since I've run over there, and I wanted to do something other than the usual road runs. There was no way I was wearing snowshoes, so I put on my microspikes and started out. As soon as I hit the snowmobile trail, I knew I had made a bad decision. It was really soft. But at this point, it was too late to go somewhere else so I just kept going. The tough footing made the run a lot harder, which I actually liked; I was putting in a lot of effort. I attempted to stay on the sides where it was harder packed, but I was constantly going back and forth across the trail to find those spots. I veered off onto the Mason Brook Trail which turned out to be even softer and a pretty steep climb up for 2 miles. I still just kept going. I felt like I was really pushing myself hard, and I like that part, but around 1.5 miles up, I could feel that my heart rate was just insanely high, and I had to stop to walk about 20 yards. I think the warmer temperature was getting to me, too. After the quick break, I ran again all the way to where the trail meets the Black Cap Connector Trail and then turned around. The run back down Mason Brook was pretty nice, but after 2 miles, I was ready to run up or flat. The way back on Corridor 19 is a little less strenuous, so the soft footing wasn't as difficult, but by the time I got within about 1/4 mile from the car, I realized I was bonking hard and pouring in sweat. I guess my mountain running needs some work. It was still a pretty good run. 10.1 miles with 1709ft of elevation gain at a 9:41/mi pace.
After John was dropped off, we ran some errands and then went for a hike on the Boulder Loop Trail. The weather was just way to perfect not to. It was almost 50 degrees and the sun was shining. We were also lucky to end up with the trail all to ourselves which would never happen on a weekend or any day in the summer. John doesn't love hiking, but he was having fun for most of it. Towards the end of the climb up, he told me his legs were really tired. I kept telling him he was so close to the top, thinking that we were, only to have another turn in the trail going up. Ha ha. Oops. He made it up there, though. It felt so good to be out there, and I think John even appreciated it... a little bit. We ran most of the way down, and he really liked that part. Turned out to be such a good time with him, and I was so glad to have had the day off of work to take that hike. Here are a few pictures from our day.




Monday, March 9, 2015

Daylight!

For the first time in I don't know how long, I was able to run in the daylight after getting off work at 6. It was so nice. 8.1 miles out-and-back on Haley Town Rd 6:45/mi pace. I ran it 2 seconds slower than last time I ran it 1.5 weeks ago. So upset about that. Ok. Not really. I felt good, and the weather was great. It was also the first time I've run in road shoes outside in months. It was nice to get the weight of my trail shoes off for a bit.
I also got in the usual x-c ski at lunch on the Mountain Division Trail. I did not want to go back to work after that. I realized that I've been working at the chiropractor for 6 months today. Very depressing. I'm hoping to move on sooner rather than later. If I hit September 9, 2015, and I'm still there, someone please come kidnap me.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Loops

Daylight savings time killed me this morning since it was the only day I could sleep in. I didn't get up until 9am! I had my coffee, made John breakfast and then went outside in hopes of a dry road run around the neighborhood. I was happy when I got to the end of the driveway to see that the road was clear and dry. The temps were in the 30s, so I knew this was going to be a good run, despite it being 11 loops around my neighborhood. The loops are excruciating, but it felt really good to be outside running instead of on the treadmill. 11 loops came out to 10.3 miles at a 7:26/mi pace and a surprising 804ft of elevation gain. My neighborhood is small, but hilly. That left me with just over 51 miles for the week. That's not too bad. I had been trying to hit 60 for the last few weeks, but with those two really short days and the zero, I didn't hit it. I'm happy with the 51. Next week might be similar in mileage, too, but that will just depend on how I feel.
After my run and shower, John and I went up to Black Mt to do some downhill skiing. Conditions are still pretty sweet, but some of the glades skiing had been worn down to icy patches by the crowds, so we only did those a few times. John is fighting off a cold of some kind and ended up falling asleep on the way home and woke up about 3 hours later.
I thought I'd leave this with a few photos from yesterday. Scott Mason took two great photos of John and me up at the Castle after the race. Thank you, Scott!
John at Castle in the Clouds Photo by Scott Mason

John and me at Castle in the Clouds
Photo by Scott Mason

Saturday, March 7, 2015

NH and Northeast Snowshoe Championship Race

Friday ended up being a rest day as planned. John and I did a little x-c skiing at the Albany Town Forest, but that was it. I was super tired and could barely keep my eyes open past 7pm, so the zero day was probably good for me. This morning, I woke up (after hitting snooze once) still feeling a bit tired, but really good, otherwise, and ready to race.
I had been eyeing the registration list for the NH and Northeast Snowshoe Championship for the past few weeks, and every time I checked it there was a new name added of someone with pretty impressive race results. With this race being part of the USATF-NE All-Terrain Series, people were coming out of the woodwork to run it. I knew for sure I wasn't going to end up with a win at this one when I saw Kasie Enman (2011 US and World Mountain Running Champion) appear on the list, but for some reason, I was still really nervous about it. I think it was mostly the unknown women I would have to race. I really wanted a top 3 finish, but I was starting to think top 5 would be nice. I've been running well, but as far as snowshoe racing goes, I haven't had much competition to see how I really measured up. So all I could do was just show up and go all out.
I drove over to Castle in the Clouds pretty early and got prime parking right in front of the carriage house since I had picked up the soup from Big Dave's. I made a huge mistake on the drive over by taking 113. I started hitting frost heaves and the soup started sloshing. I was thinking it hadn't spilled out, but no, it's all over my passenger-side floor, and my car smells like soup. That's going to start smelling like puke over the next 24 hours. Awesome. :)
John had to tag-a-long today, but he didn't seem to mind since the carriage house had wifi. He was stuck with his face in my phone the ENTIRE time, which I hate, but it was what he wanted to do, so I let him do it. I did a quick 1.5 mile warm up and started looking at all of the faces I had never seen before and continued to get more nervous. After my warm up, I ditched my jacket, said bye to John and ran down to the start. Once I was down there, I ran into my (new) CMS teammate Jenn Brooks who was pretty cool. We chatted for awhile and then lined up together along with Abbey Wood. Amber Ferreira (2014 National Snowshoe Champion) showed up last minute, so I knew for sure I would be LUCKY if I even made 3rd. In a way, it kind of took the pressure off, but I still didn't know who some of these "fast" looking women were. Kind of like Boston Prep. They all looked fast, but there was only one who ended up being faster. I was hoping that after Kasie and Amber, today could go similarly. It was a little tougher to place myself properly for the start since there were so many new faces, but I felt like I was in a decent spot. Turned out to be off a bit. As soon as Chris said go, it was a cluster. Chuck Hazzard got taken down right away and the rest of us were almost walking just to stay off each other's snowshoes. Kasie and Amber shot off ahead along with another woman, and then I fell in line behind Jenn. Chuck caught up and squeezed in ahead of us. Jenn and I got caught in a bottleneck right away, so I asked her if she was up for moving a little faster and wanted to pass this group with me. She said she was game, so I hollered out the need to pass. They did their best to move over, but I still ended up in the really deep snow off to the side, and it totally zapped my energy. Once we passed them (including the woman who had been ahead of us), we were able to move again. At this point, I started to see people ahead of me who shouldn't have been so I knew I needed to pass Jenn. She obliged, and I moved on chasing Chuck and the group just ahead that included Amber, Danny and Kasie. There were about 4 or 5 people in between that I started to pick off, including Chuck, which surprised me. He's been killing me at almost every race (except Whitaker), so I thought he would end up passing me later on. The footing was pretty similar to the Bradbury White Out Snowshoe race with a lot of powder and post-holing off to the sides of the trail. It was tough running, but I just pushed on up the long climb pretty much holding steady behind the group with the lead women. They didn't seem to ever get farther ahead of me, and I'm not sure they really did gain much. I finally caught up to and passed Sam Wood and Garrison Parker. That only left 3 people in between me and Amber and Kasie. I could see Amber had the lead this whole time with Kasie really close on her heels. I didn't know who two of the guys were (I would learn later that one of them was Danny); the third one was one of the younger Sweetie Pies guys who had been beating me at every race. At this point, I had a feeling I was pretty much where I was going to finish, and it was only around mile 2. I kept trying to catch the group, but they just seemed to stay in the same place ahead of me, so I kind of ended up alone for a little while. Chuck, Phil and Garrison weren't far behind me, but I still wasn't really running with anyone. It was kind of nice, but at the same time, I had to make sure I didn't slow down, so I continued to run hard for the next 2.5 miles. I was constantly looking back half expecting to see some woman gaining on me, but I never did. Abbey ended up finishing 4th, but she was about 5 minutes back. I had nothing to worry about, but I didn't know it, so I continued running scared.
Sliding all over the place- Photo by Dave Dunham

Right around mile 4.5 (I think), we came down the hill where the finish was visible. I remember looking over that way, and the next thing I knew, I was going down hard. I had stepped in someone else's track and the soft snow on the side of the trail, and it sent me flying forward flat on the trail. I jumped up fast, though, since I didn't want anyone to catch me and continued on. The course veered away from the finish area and started a pretty decent climb up. I could still see Amber just steps ahead of Kasie and the 3 men right behind them. This climb hurt, and I saw Chuck starting to gain on me. I wasn't letting that happen so I pushed on and started focusing on the guy in front of me who had dropped off the group. We finally hit the top and began making our way down. I knew we weren't too far from the finish at this point. I saw Don Fredrikson who was watching the race, and he yelled out, "It's all downhill from here." I never believe people who say that, so I yelled back, "Are you lying to me?!" He said no, so I just decided to believe him and speed up for the finish. I ended up reigning in the guy in front of me, and as much as I feel bad passing people just before the finish, I picked it up and passed him down the last stretch. I was watching the clock and did not want it to cross over the 58 minute mark. I ended up crossing the finish in 57:49, third woman and 18th overall. I was spent. I talked to Kasie for a minute to ask her if she or Amber won. She told me she passed Amber on that last downhill for the win. Kasie beat me by just over a minute and Amber, just under a minute. I was shocked to finish that close to them.

Photo by Joe Viger

I took off my snowshoes and started walking back to the carriage house. I did jog a little bit, but I really just wanted to walk. Once back inside, I found John still glued to my phone. I wasn't up for a cool down today, so I decided to bag it and just change out of my gross clothes and start drinking. Post-race at Castle in the Clouds is always a good time. Good food, free beer and just a nice atmosphere. It was fun hanging out talking with people before the awards. As far as awards go, I got to go up twice, first, to share the podium with Kasie and Amber. I felt honored to be standing next to them, even if they did make me feel like a giant. Ha ha. I doubt I will ever come that close to either of them in a race again so it was a pretty cool moment.
I got to hit the podium a second time as the women's winner of the Granite State Snowshoe Series. I'm so psyched I was finally able to complete enough races in the Series to take the win. (I was the women's winner in 2012, but I don't really count that one; most of the races were cancelled, and I only ran 2 out of the 3 that were held.) The last two years the fog of my old life held me back. I've been trying to crawl out of it, and I feel like I'm getting there. Running and racing have been a huge part of that for me. Having a race to look forward to almost every weekend has also helped me get through the winter, and it wasn't just the racing, it was the people. I miss this group after most of the races end in November, so it makes me smile (except Exeter ha ha) to see them all through the season.
After the race, I made John walk up to the Castle to check out the view. Scott Mason caught up with us on the way up. He had never been to Castle in the Clouds before so he was really enjoying it. John was actually impressed with the view and planted himself inside one of the stone planters at the top of the stairs. It is so beautiful there and has become one of my favorite places. I can't wait to go back there when the snow melts and run those mountains again.
Now that snowshoe racing season is over, it's time to do some road racing. I originally registered for the Shamrock Shuffle in Lebanon, NH for next weekend, but now that I'm running the New Bedford Half, I'm 99% sure I'm going to skip the Shuffle. Plus, John was supposed to be going away for the weekend with his dad, and now, he's not. I'm not sure I want to drag him 2.5 hours away for a 5K. It's probably best if I don't run it, since I would go all out. I can't just run "for fun" in a race. No way. Not happening. I'm looking forward to New Bedford. I have no idea how I'm going to run. I don't know if the training I've been doing will lead to a fast time or not. I guess I'll know around 1230 next Sunday. Ha ha.
Tomorrow, I might be able to actually run outside and do loops around my neighborhood again. The road has cleared enough, I think....I hope.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

12 Miles

I ended up spending the night at the ambulance last night since it was so late, but I was up around 6am to come home. I decided to do one of my usual runs from home into Conway and Madison and back. I was planning to take it easy, so I didn't push it. Never looked at my time. Just enjoyed running and the view. The roads were mostly dry except for two very short stretches. Finished up with 12.1 miles at 7:33/mi pace which was a lot faster than I thought I was going. Very surprised, but I think it was just the mostly dry roads and long downhill section. My calves are still pretty sore, and my body is screaming at me to take a rest day, so that's what tomorrow will be. The big snowshoe race is on Saturday, and, although I will be lucky to even be in the top 5, I still want to run the best race I can. (I don't think I will stand a chance against a former World Mountain Running champion. LOL.) My legs are needing the break; I can feel it. I'll just use that time to take the dogs for a walk and run a few errands before John comes home at 2:30.
I got some really good news today that I'll have to share at a later date (since I was told to keep my mouth shut, and I don't know who's reading this), but it motivated me to actually cook tonight. That is a really rare occurrence these days since I'm mainly just cooking for myself... and I'm lazy. I made John teriyaki chicken and then spent an hour making myself thai coconut chicken soup. I didn't eat until after 9pm, but it was worth it. It turned out really good and had a nice kick. Maybe I'll start cooking for myself more often now, like once a month instead of once every 3 months. Ha ha.
My dinner, eaten standing up using my elegant table, the pellet stove. LOL.
(The double lighthouse thing is a total coincidence.)

Short Day

I have a feeling this week is going to be a short mileage week. I ended up snowblowing my driveway this morning at 4am instead of getting on the treadmill. I didn't need to snowblow it to get out, but I also didn't want to leave that layer of wet snow for it to melt and then freeze into ice overnight. Got in 2.9 mile ski on the Mountain Division Trail at lunch since it was so nice out. I wanted to make it an even 3 miles, but I literally ran out of time. Made it back to work exactly on the dot AGAIN. It's worth cutting it close on days like today. The sun felt so good. The rest of the day ended being entertaining. I had to reboot our server to reinstall Carbonite and purposely didn't tell my boss I was going to do it. I may be evil, but I wanted to see if his predicted reaction would ensue. And sure enough, it did. As soon as I shut it down, I could hear stomping up above and a panicked voice yelling for me that Platinum had just crashed. I was chuckling to myself the whole time. It's a chiropractic clinic; you can live without a computer to treat patients for 5 minutes. Except, it lasted about 2 hours. Oops. Windows was all rebooted and asked me for the password. Um, what password? No idea. Now, my boss was in full-on panic mode. This was very entertaining. He found what he thought was the password. Didn't work. I spent another hour down in the basement trying every single known password we use until he realized he had written down the correct password originally but accidentally wrote two numbers backwards. I found this whole thing comical since most days are so boring; I needed the entertainment. So everything appeared fine... until my coworker realizes Platinum isn't working right on her computer since the reboot. So that gets shut down while she's on the phone with customer service for another hour only to find out the problem was all due to her "Number Lock" key. Pretty funny stuff. Gotta find the fun somehow in that place.
At 6pm on the dot, I bolted out of there hoping to get some sort of run in before my on-call shift started at 7pm. That usually means nothing more than 3 miles, so I decided to hit Haley Town Rd again for a short 5k run. I walked down the tracks from my car to the road, take one step and then realize that it's pitch black dark. I reach up to my forehead. No headlamp. Damn. Oh well. No time to go back. And not only that, I wasn't wearing my reflective jacket either. I only had two small pieces of reflective fabric on my shirt, and that was it. I thought, "F*ck it," and carried on. No time to warm up, so I just went off fast, 1.6 out, turned around and ran 1.5 back to make it a 5k in 19:58. I had to step off to the side about 4 times during the road to ensure I wasn't hit by car since I wasn't visible. I don't think it slowed me much, but I felt like that run should have been faster. Oh well.
Headed home with just enough time to shower before getting called into the ambulance at 8:20pm for a transfer to Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester. I always seem to end up in Rochester lately. Easy enough transfer since it was short and NOT snowing. I even took a happy selfie to show I was feeling the opposite of  2 weeks ago when I was in Rochester hating life. Couldn't get my selfie shadow out of the picture, though. Ha ha.
I am a happy camper this time. Yay!
Made it back to the base just after midnight, wrote my report and now at 1:23am, I'm writing this ridiculous blog post instead of going to bed. Tomorrow's run will probably suck now, but I can just blame it on lack of sleep. :)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Chocorua Again

Monday, I decided to take it easy. Short 2-mile ski on the Mountain Division Trail at lunch and then a 5-mile treadmill run at home after work. I felt pretty good, not even sore from Sunday's race. However, I woke up this morning to sore calves, but I decided to do the run I had planned anyway. It was my typical run on the dirt roads in Chocorua. The roads are plowed, but still covered in snow so I wore microspikes, as usual. It's going to feel so nice hanging those things up when the snow melts. Footing was decent in most places, but still a little icy in spots. I ran 12.5 miles at a 7:36/mi. I actually felt good other than the sore calves. The weather was beautiful so I had to take the typical "tourist" Chocorua Lake/Mountain photo when I finished my run.
Chocorua
Later on, John and I skied at Black Mt for a few hours. The conditions have been so awesome this year that it's making me feel like a good skier, even though I'm not. Definitely makes it more fun, though.
It's snowing now, and I'm hoping we don't get too much of it. If we do, I'll have to snowblow at 4am in the morning instead of getting my run in. I'm on call at the ambulance tomorrow night, so I may only get in a quick 3 miles in the hour between jobs. All up in the air right now.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Shoe to the Clouds Snowshoe Race 2015

This is the 3rd year this snowshoe race has been held and my 3rd time running it. I try not to think about it too much beforehand because if I do, I'll remember how hard it is and start worrying about it. I  think I was more focused on missing Kingman Farm the night before that it gave my brain an outlet to put the Mt Washington Auto Rd torture out of mind. I actually woke up Sunday morning feeling really good. This was notable since I've had a few snowshoe races this season where I wasn't feeling 100%. And since I was feeling so good, I made the decision to wear tights! In case no one has noticed, I DO NOT wear tights. The last time I did was at Snowshoe Nationals last year, and I was so horrified by the photos that I vowed never to wear them in a race again. I complained so much about it that following week that my friends started calling me "Hippo" due my constant, "Look at how huge my hips are! Oh my god!" So yeah, no tights. But for some reason, I said to myself, "Dammit. I'm wearing tights today," so I did. They weren't too bad, but I still don't like them. Back to my baggy Pearl Izumi pants next week. :)
I dropped John at friend's house on the way up to Great Glen Trails; this would be too long of a day for him to tag-along. The sun was out, and the mountain looked beautiful, so I was psyched to be headed up it (well halfway, at least). Shortly after I arrived, Kevin Tilton, Jonathan Miller and I headed out for a short warm up on snowshoes. We had planned 2 miles but ended up doing a loop that brought us back at 1.85; I knew I would be running to the start line which was across the road and right at the base of the auto road, so I wasn't sweating it. But I sure as hell was sweating; the temps were rising, and it was warmer up at 3500' than it was at the base, so I decided to stick with my usual two light layers. It turned out to be the right choice. Once back at the lodge, I realized I was running short on time, so I quickly ditched my extra layer and ran .7 miles to the start. I arrived just after the skiers started, so it was right to the start line then we were off.
The last two years have been kind of a guessing game here. Go off fast or save something for the auto rd. Well, I had no choice, since Abbey Wood started off really fast and was right over my left shoulder. I was a little panicked at first because it was really fast, but we were right behind Jonathan Miller, whom I've been racing close to the last few races, so I thought maybe this was good. Plus, the footing is hard-packed, wide and groomed which meant for running fast. But then we started passing people we don't normally pass, and Andrew Drummond was way too close, so I was back in worry-mode immediately thinking I was making a huge mistake. But I kept pushing. Right off the bat, Josh Fields was playing leap frog with Jonathan and me; despite his supposed lack of training, he looked pretty freakin' strong. I didn't dare look over my shoulder yet to see where Abbey was at this point; I wasn't ready to face the light. She's typically a much stronger mountain runner than I am. The run on the Great Glen trails is mostly small ups and downs, nothing too difficult, and it came to an end pretty quickly. Down the last hill to the flat with the auto rd in view. I was scared. Jonathan Miller and I hit the uphill together, but I ended up falling in line behind him, and that's where I would end up staying the rest of the race. He had a good run up the road and ended up beating me by well over a minute. Once we were up the hill just a bit, I finally took my first, of about 20, looks back. I could see Abbey just approaching the bottom of the hill. Way too close for my comfort, so I decided to push a little harder, and as soon as I hit the first mile marker, I felt like I was going to puke. This never subsided the rest of the race. I could have easily stopped at any point, walked to the side, puked and then just kept going. I was on the verge the whole 2.5 miles to the finish. I ended up catching and passing Josh at one point, but he was doing the run-walk method and was able to push past me when he started running again. I would continue to gain on him every time he walked, but once he started running again, his lead would grow. It was like this the entire race. Jonathan just got farther and farther away. I kept looking back to see who was behind and no longer saw Abbey or Phil Erwin, who hadn't been too far back at the start of the climb. There were two guys gaining on me, one who would quickly pass me and continue strong up the road. The other guy I had passed towards the middle of the lower trails. He caught and passed me with just under a mile to go, but then slowed down, staying steps ahead of me until the last quarter of a mile when he just tanked and dropped way back behind me again. I had been eyeing my watch the last two miles since I had planned on a PR and was hoping for a course record, too. I knew I was right on the money even if I slowed a little (which I did). I was familiar enough with the road that I knew I was almost to the finish and normally, I would give it a good kick in, but I was running slower than a walking pace and couldn't bring myself to go any faster. I saw Josh cross the finish line and soon enough, I did, too, and almost had to step to the side to throw up. I was that close. 1st woman and 7th overall. I checked my watch to see 1:05:57 (official time would be 1:05:53). I couldn't believe it. I snagged a PR by 7min46sec AND the women's course record by 5min20sec. SWEET. And no wonder I wanted to throw up.
Photo by Gianina Lindsey

I kept walking up to the group hanging by the van with our drop bags and talked to Kevin, Eric Narcisi and Andrew Drummond for a minute before grabbing my bag and walking farther up the auto road to change clothes in "privacy" (I changed right in the middle of the auto rd). Once I came back down, I saw Abbey and Sam who had ended up walking a lot of the auto road together. They were in good spirits, as always, but were starting to get cold since they had no drop bag and immediately started their run back down. I spoke, briefly, to Hilary McCloy, who had finished 3rd woman, and then started my run back down. I was thankful for warm clothes at this point because I had cooled down enough that I was starting to get really cold. I stopped a few times to take some pictures of Robin, Diane and Lisa and then ran pretty fast trying to catch up with Abbey and Sam. I hauled ass and finally caught up with them at mile marker 1 and ran with them to bridge where we ran into Kevin and Eric. As soon as I stopped running, I realized I was bonking hard. I started to feel dizzy and all I could think about was nachos and beer at the Moat. The walk back to the lodge was excruciating. I didn't think I was going to make it. I needed food STAT. Eric Narcisi and I got in line for our free soup. Eric had forgotten his free soup ticket and was met full-on with Soup Nazi. No joke. The girl at the register was trying to be nice about it, but then the kitchen lady came flying around the corner, looks at Eric and yells (literally), "NO TICKET! NO SOUP!" I was dying laughing inside, but also shocked since he had obviously just run the race and this wasn't a Seinfeld episode. Fortunately, Kim, who was in charge of the whole event, quickly came to the rescue and fixed the whole soup/ticket issue. Eric was now allowed to have his 6oz of tomato soup free of charge. I'm still dying laughing as I type this. I needed more food than the soup, so I looked around for more free stuff and grabbed about 6 packs of saltine crackers to go with it. I ended up paying for a much-needed coffee and a rice crispy treat. It was right in front of me and was one of the cheapest things I could find. I sat with Kevin, Josh and Eric for what seemed like forever. I think it was over 1.5 hours before the awards started. I was glad I didn't wait for the Moat to eat or I would have passed out. Awards were announced and FINALLY, after all of these years that I waited to win a pair of Dion's, I finally did!! Of course, after I broke down and bought a pair 4 months ago. Oh well, doesn't hurt to have a second pair. And for the second year in a row, I got a comped entry into the Mt Washington Road Race. I've already registered and paid, but I will be super psyched when I get that $80 back in my pocket. Oh, and I snagged two more fleece blankets to add to my Mt Washington collection. I ended up winning a Mt Washington Road Race guaranteed entry in the raffle and promptly handed that right over to Josh Fields, whom I knew needed one.
Top 3 women. Abbey Wood, Hilary McCloy and me. Photo by Meg Skidmore.

Once the awards were finally over, it was time to head to the Moat. Eric Narcisi rode with me so that his wife wouldn't have to drive all the way back up to Great Glen Trails after shopping in North Conway. She just met us at the restaurant. I had promised Eric my most depressing playlist, consisting of 2 songs on repeat, for the ride down, but I failed to follow through. I know he's still disappointed. We met up with the acidoticRACING group, plus Lisa Ransom's friends and family and had the back of the bar all to ourselves. I ordered a 20oz beer that I drank 3/4 of  before I got any food, so I was feeling pretty good. The Moat is always a good time. Picked up John from his friend's house after that and finally made it home. Longer day than I thought, but it was definitely a good one. I needed the recharge before heading back to work on Monday. Total mileage for the day ended up at 12.1 miles to make 62.4 miles for the week. No all out long runs, but a lot of shorter ones to make up the distance.
Next weekend is the last race in the Series, The New Hampshire and Northeast Snowshoe Championship Race. And based on the pre-registrants, it is going to be competitive. I don't see a win with this one, but I'd like to pull off top 3 for the women. Even that might be a stretch, but that's ok. I could use the competition to bring me back to reality a little bit. Plus, I LOVE running at Castle in the Clouds. Love, love, love it there. And the after-party (More Moat Beer!!!) will be a good time. It looks like I have the Granite State Snowshoe Series locked up for the women's win, so that's exciting. Then it's time to do some road racing for a month or so before the Mountain Series starts.