Friday, May 29, 2015

Recovery Week

Tuesday- I got out for a nice run in the Green Hills while John was at his ninja class. I ran right from there and hit the trails. I was barely sore, but it still took the first mile to work the stiffness out. I ran out to Corridor 19 and then did a loop in the Outer Limits and back to Corridor 19. I realized at this point that I only had 9 minutes until John's ninja class was over and started hauling ass. Made it back only 4 minutes late. Phew. Pretty good run. After I warmed up, my legs weren't sore at all, but I could still feel the fatigue in them. 7.5 trail miles, 1002 ft of elevation gain.

Wednesday- I got up early before work and hit 5 miles on the treadmill. My usual run, just a little slower pace than usual. 7:24/mi. I felt really good. Sadly, I tricked my own self ON PURPOSE, and this was to be my last run until today. I purposely picked up an extra 10-hour shift right after my 24 hour shift AND also picked up a 14-hour stipend (on call) shift right after the 10-hour. I knew it would be forced rest. 48 hours of torture. I was cursing myself, but I planned it that way. Grr. But it was a good thing. I need the recovery. I recover very quickly, but I knew I would need another zero day.
As per the usual, we were up most of the Wednesday night, but a little better this time. I think I got 3.5 hours of sleep. From there, I drove right to Tamworth for my 10 hour shift. I was able to come home at 5pm, but I was on call until 7am. I live about 17 minutes from the base and have only 20 minutes to get there, so that's just enough time to throw on my shoes and hop in the car. No run for me. I never got called in, though, and got a full night's sleep.

Thursday- Slept in until the end of the on-call shift, had coffee and then finally headed out for a mountain run. I felt great. Didn't even feel like I had run a marathon 5 days ago. I started from the White Ledge Campground on the Carter Ledge Trail for about a mile. Took a right on the Middle Sister Trail and followed it all the way to the summits of all of the Sisters. The weather was perfect and the views as amazing as always. I didn't venture over to Chocorua. I could see people over there. I don't like sharing summits with other people; I'll admit it. ;)
Looking over at Chocorua 

Me on Middle Sister

Yes. I set this one up. I'm a dork, and I need to tame those arms.

Summit of Middle Sister

Just because I need to add one more selfie.
I hit the final summit, then backtracked to the Carter Ledge Trail to make a loop back to the car. The trail was actually pretty rough in parts and going down the first section of it was actually my slowest mile of the run. Before I knew it, I was down on Carter Ledge in familiar territory and ran back down to my car. Fantastic day and just the run I needed. I LOVE being able to run in the mountains. 8.8 miles, 2898ft of elevation gain.

The rest of the day was spent buying food for my race on Sunday and then a few leisurely hours at Conway Lake with John. I'm up early tomorrow to meet Paul Kirsch at Tin Mountain. Paul is going to help me mark the course for the race. Things haven't gone quite as smoothly this year as last, but I'm still foreseeing a good day out there on Sunday. I have 146 pre-registrants, much bigger field than last year. Crossing my fingers all goes well.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

2015 Vermont City Marathon

The day I have spent the last 5 months training for has finally come and gone. Sunday, I finished the Vermont City Marathon, not only killing my previous PR, but also meeting my goal and placing in a position I didn't expect. Not even a little bit. I'll be honest that I truly believed I didn't belong in this group of invited runners. I loved the perks and the experience of it, but I was really nervous about pulling off a race time that I'd never come close to before. I knew that I was capable of it; that I'd trained for it, but I was so nervous of having an off day and blowing it. The pressure was on, and I was feeling it. But this same pressure is what got me to actually marathon train (my own "training plan") for the first time since 2010. I had stopped training for marathons and usually just went out and winged them. My times were decent. I snagged 2nd woman at the Mount Desert Island Marathon in 2012 without any marathon-specific training and then a PR of 3:14:45 at the 2014 Boston Marathon on 20-30 mostly trail miles a week and one "long" run of 12 miles on a snowmobile trail stopping constantly while Paul "I never get sick" Kirsch puked the whole way. :) I just had fun that race. Felt great. No wall. Easy PR. I just didn't care. Until now. I was invited to run VCM, and after I accepted this, I knew I had to train for it. I wasn't going to follow someone else's plan. I knew what I had to do to get myself there, so I just did it. Part of that meant racing every weekend (except one) from the beginning of January right up until Sleepy Hollow the week before. It meant getting on the treadmill for more miles than I had ever done on one. It meant getting on the ice covered roads and smashing my face to put in the miles on the hills in the snow and the cold. It meant going for long runs after being up all night at work. It meant giving the finger (in a nice way, of course ;)) to naysayers with that "taper" crap and "You're racing too much." If I had wanted a coach, I would have hired one. I felt like I had put in everything I had to get me a sub-3 at VCM. And I was right.

After I finished my last blog post, I realized it was midnight. Up way too late. I fell right to sleep, but I ended up waking up ALL night. The hotel room was stuffy, and once I woke up, my mind wouldn't stop churning. I'm not one of those people to whom this normally happens, so it was really frustrating. I hardly slept a wink from 4am on. Needless to say, when I finally got up, I was not feeling so hot. I was so tired; my eyes were puffy. And this just added to the already-building stress of race day coming on. I went out to the continental breakfast at the hotel and realized there wasn't a single thing out there that I would eat. Not even their bagels. I did grab some coffee, but after one sip, I knew that the coffee snob in me was not about to take another sip. So I threw on some pants, stayed bra-less and drove over to Starbucks for a venti coffee. I was feeling like hell, and I just needed some good coffee. I felt a little better after my coffee and decided to hold off on food until I could get something decent. I don't usually eat breakfast until later anyway. I showered and then my parents, John and I drove over to the Expo at the Sheraton. It wasn't crowded yet so that made it easier to maneuver, but as soon as I picked up my bib#, I started to feel dizzy and immediately starving. Need food now. Like right now. So I wandered through the Expo grabbing every single free sample I could find. I stopped at one booth to be goofy and have some press-on nails put on for the race.
Something fun, so why the hell not?
After wandering the expo (at which I hardly ever buy anything), John and I found the Valcour Room for the Invited Athletes. I checked in with Lyman and then John helped me decorate my water bottles for the "Elite Fluids" tables. I don't typically need much water or many gels in a marathon (unless it's over 80 degrees), so I brought 6 8oz bottles in to decorate. This part was kind of fun, like being in a middle school art class. Took my mind off of the stress that was growing as the day progressed.
John helping me decorate water bottles for the water stops
After we decorated them, I placed them in each mile marker box then realized I had forgotten to bring my Nuun tablets and gels to go with them. Duh. It didn't really matter since I was coming back later for our meeting, so I didn't sweat it. I was still on the verge of passing out so I snarfed down a bagel, finished checking in with Lyman and then we headed out. My parents were waiting for us so we met up with them and then made our way out of the expo. I had my mom take some pictures of me with my bib #. I was told it was going to be bib #40, but that wasn't the case. We got special "F" bibs, and I was F10. 

Yeah, no pressure. None at all. What the hell was I doing with one of these bibs? I don't deserve this. All the stupid thoughts going through my head. And this is when I started to get on edge and feel overwhelmed. I was having very selfish moments of being in my own head trying to go over everything, but at the same time I was trying to make sure John and my parents were also being taken care of. My fuse was getting shorter. Now, I realize why my ex-husband hated going to marathons with me; I wasn't fun to be around at all. I managed to hold it together as best I could, but little things were starting to get on my nerves. 

I took them down to the water front to walk around and see where the finish line was and just check out the sites. We were all starving at this point (that bagel didn't do much), so we hit up a deli for lunch then headed back to the hotel. 
John running along the rocks by the boardwalk

My parents on the boardwalk
By this point, I was so tired. I could barely keep my eyes open, so I sat down for awhile until it was time for me to go back to the Sheraton for the invited runners' meeting. I remembered my Nuun and gels and drove over. I walked into a room FULL of people. I didn't know anyone there yet, so I just started working on fixing my water bottles with a half Nuun tablet in each one, except the last one, and taping Accel gels to mile 9 and 17's bottles. I didn't think I would need more than 2 gels, but I decided to carry one extra one in my skirt pocket just in case. I never needed it. I put the bottles away and then sat down in a chair by myself. I spent time checking out the other elite women. They looked so, well, ELITE. I don't know what I looked like, but I felt like a joke. Finally, some people I knew arrived. Denise Sandahl, Apryl Sabadosa, Christin Doneski. I was starting to feel more comfortable at this point having familiar faces to be around. The meeting started. Lyman, Joe and Zeke went over logistics and times that we had to be aware of for the next day. It was pretty short and sweet. I met Diane Senecal on the way out; she had a similar time goal as me, so she suggested running together the next day; I thought this might be a good idea to hold me back a little bit from going out too fast. I gave Apryl the rest of my water bottles to use the next day and then left. I got take-out at Bove's for dinner. Way too much spaghetti with meatballs, but it was exactly what I wanted. I only ate half of it. The fatigue had really hit me at this point, so when it came time to pack, I had a lot of trouble. I couldn't think clearly, but I felt like I had everything I needed for the day finally set and just after 9pm, I was out cold. I didn't wake up again until my 4:20am alarm.

I woke up easily and went right into go-mode. I was feeling good. Still pretty nervous, but overall I just felt really good. I was relieved to have that. I made coffee, got dressed and then my mom drove me over to the Sheraton to catch our van to OnTrack Fitness. OnTrack opened their place to the invited runners so we would have a place to keep our bags and then relax before heading up to the start. It was really nice to have that quiet space. Not everyone took advantage of it, but a few of us did. I still felt odd being there and watched the true "elites" stretching and looking confident. I spent most of my time talking to Diane, Amy and Apryl. I was getting more nervous as it got closer to go time, so I needed to run a little bit, just to get alone and work out the nerves. I ran down the bike path to where the trail turns along the water (where Scott Mason was taking photos during the race), jumped up on the cement wall and took a moment to breathe and take in the view. The weather was perfect. I knew this was going to be a good day for me.

When I got back, it was time to head to the start. Someone gave me a ride. It took me awhile to find our place, and once I did, I only had time to go use the bathroom, drop my sweats and then we were guided up to the start of the race. It felt weird walking up the hill in front of everyone and then filing in, but it did make it easier to start in the right place. The perks of being an invited runner were definitely worth it. I lined up with Diane, Amy Benard and Karen Benway. There were quite a few women who were ahead of us, and it was hard to tell if they were relay or full. I'd learn later on that most of them were relay, but seeing them all made me nervous. I tried not to focus on who was in front of me. It was a long way to go. The National Anthem was played; the hand cyclists started, and then we moved up and started shortly thereafter. It was nice being in front because it spread out quickly. I stayed with Diane and Amy though the first mile. My biggest rival, Narcisi the Younger, passed by; that was the last I would see of him. After losing 3/3 races to him, it's finally time for me to concede. The first mile felt too fast to me; I'm not sure why because it was in the 6:40s on my watch. That had me worried, thinking that if that felt too fast, how would the rest of the race go? I actually wanted to go out a little faster than that. At this point, I just decided to go on my own and not try to stay with anybody. I needed to run this race purely by feel or I was going to mess it up along the way. I stopped focusing on who was ahead of me, even though I made a mental note of who was. The second mile was much faster, due to the downhills, and I felt really good with it. Still a long way to go, but I was feeling extremely confident already. I just knew things were going to go right today.

After leaving the crowds of the downtown area, we headed out on the Beltline (I lost one of my press-on nails here and was so devastated, I almost dropped from the race. Ok, that's a lie.) I thought the Beltline was pretty boring... until we turned around. At this point, I loved it! I got to see and cheer for so many people I knew, some of them I didn't even know were running it. It gave me a huge push. So fun. My splits remained pretty even unless there was a significant uphill or downhill. During mile 8, I started passing people. I went by Diane and then F7. I wouldn't see them the rest of the race. I was passing male racers, as well. I felt good, but I knew I had a long way to go. At mile 9ish, I grabbed my bottle which I had taped a gel to. I quickly downed the gel, and snarfed the water up my nose. I carried the water until around the 11 mile mark.
Just past mile 9. Photo by Eric Morse.
Early on. Photo by Scott Mason.
I liked these early neighborhoods. I remember a group of people cheering for me at a house, and a little girl who saw my CMS shirt turned to her family and said, "But we hate UMass." Cracked me up. After the neighborhood loop, we finally turned onto the bike path and shortly thereafter hit the 13.1 mark. I came through in 1:27:16, 6:39/mi pace. EXACTLY where I wanted to be, and this was all by feel. Hitting this point, I knew how the rest of the race would go. I was only half way, but I knew it was time to start picking people off. Doing that would keep me pulled along and staying on a good pace for my goal of a sub-3. To be honest, I knew by halfway that I was going to get it. I pretty much smiled the entire rest of the race.

The run along the bike path was awesome. I passed one woman (who would be the first master's finisher). I was excited to see Scott Mason as we turned the corner off of the water.
Mile 15ish (I think). Photo by Scott Mason.
We hit the "big" hill by Battery park. Seriously, what hill? I didn't even feel it and passed a lot of people. I even felt good enough to make fun of Eric Narcisi standing in the middle of the course talking on his phone. As I pressed on, I heard a spectator say, "She's just warming up." It was an interesting thing to hear, and I actually thought about it for a second. Then I thought, "Damn right I am." At the top of the hill, the course turned left into the park.
Just before mile 16. Photo by Eric Morse.
I still felt great as the course continued north. At mile 17ish, I grabbed another of my waters that had a gel on it and downed it quickly. It was the last gel I would use. I was still picking people off and was shocked to see F8 in front of me at one point. I thought she would be up vying for a top spot. She looked good, but I passed her easily. The neighborhood sections of the course were a little boring, but it was ok. I just focused on keeping a good pace and looking for the next woman to pick off. The relay women threw me off a bit, but I could usually tell which ones they were. Finally, F2 came into sight. I surged a little bit and passed her. Shortly thereafter, we reached the bike path. And this is where I started to tank. I thought this would be an easy coast into the finish. It was not the case, very deceptive. For the last 4 miles, my pace dropped by about 10 seconds per mile, even though I felt like I was putting in a huge effort. Fatigue was winning, but I knew for sure I was getting that sub-3 and by more than I thought. I knew it would be between 2:54 and 2:56. Right past mile 22, for the first time ever in my life, I felt a slight calf cramp in my left calf. It disappeared as quickly as it came, but it had me worried the rest of the way.

As I passed a spectator, he yelled out that I was 4th woman. WHAT?!!! That wasn't possible. I was a minimum of 5th. I figured he was wrong. 2 miles went by. I was still putting in a strong effort and still seeing splits in the 6:50s. Assured myself that it didn't matter. There was no woman in sight behind me, AND I was getting a sub-3. All was good. Then I passed another spectator. "4th woman!" WHAT?! That meant someone dropped. I couldn't believe it!!! I was going to finish 4th woman?!! I didn't even consider this to be a possibility. I thought it would be cool to finish in the top ten, but 4th?! No way!!!! I kept ticking off the miles towards the finish. It seemed like forever, but then I heard the crowd. It was loud. I knew that I would be there in less than a mile. I started to get so excited. I couldn't help but smile the whole way in passing by everyone. I hit the grass, looked at the clock and realized I was meeting my goal, but the clock was getting close to 2:56. I decided to pick it up just a bit to make sure it stayed under 2:56. I crossed the finish with a gun time of 2:55:55. Net time 2:55:49.
Finish photo by Krissy Kozlosky
Once I stopped running, I could barely stand up, and someone was there guiding me over to the VIP tent to recoup. I was so relieved to be done and ecstatic at the same time. I was so happy with what I had just done. I knew I could pull it off, but I didn't think I would hit the 2:55 range. I was thinking closer to 2:58 and, if I was lucky, top 10. I even won $500. After I had recovered a little bit, someone guided me to our recovery room in the Aquarium where I found Diane and Amy. They both were disappointed in their races, but they still had positive attitudes about it. We all have bad races; you just hope for it not to be certain ones like this. I made my way back to OnTrack to take a shower and saw Christin Doneski. She is just the most positive person; she said she didn't have a great race, but she was also really positive about it and just so nice. After my shower, I met up with my parents and John.

I was planning to hit the beer tent, but I was told it was only Mich Ultra. I'm not only a coffee snob, but I'm also a beer snob. Eric Narcisi texted me that he, Brenna and Scott Mason were headed to the Vermont Brewery, so John and I walked up there to meet them while my parents went to move the car. It felt good to walk. We joined those guys for lunch (even though I could hardly eat my food). I headed back to the hotel after to rest some and eat a whole pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. The no-sugar thing was taking a break that day. Ha ha. They messaged me that they had moved onto the Farmhouse, so I had my mom drive me back over there and drop me off. I was promptly handed a Farmhouse Edward beer upon my arrival, which I enjoyed so much that I had another with dinner. Tom Hooper messaged me saying his group was at El Gato Cantina and threw out the "HT" word. Heady Topper! We made our way there for some drinks with the Six03 crowd. Another group of runners followed us down there, as well, so we had a pretty good crowd that I'm not sure the restaurant was thrilled about. Ha ha.
Only part of the crowd that ended up at El Gato Cantina. Photo by Scott Mason.
After two Heady Toppers I was three sheets to the wind and knew I needed to get out of there. The guys staying at the Sheraton called the shuttle van, so I decided to stow away with them for the free ride. From there, I walked back to the Comfort Inn and quickly passed out. It was a fun night.

My parents were up at 4am to catch the hotel shuttle to the airport to fly back to Atlanta, so I said a quick goodbye to them then went back to bed. When I woke up around 7, I was hungover. I wouldn't normally be hungover after so few beers (well, I guess I had 5 total), but with already being dehydrated, it hit me. Headache, puffy eyes. I looked like hell, but it was so worth it. Coffee and some food perked me up. John and I left around check-out to head home. We made a stop at the Zealand Trailhead to stretch our legs with a short hike on the Hale Brook Trail and then made our way home to close out a great weekend.

This isn't the end of my racing season by any means, but there will be shift in my training. More mountains and trails and less road runs. I'll still be throwing some long road runs in there, but not weekly. I expect my weekly mileage to drop a little bit, but nothing drastic. I still have some long distance races planned for this year. For this week, I have to focus on my race directing for the Dirty Girl Trail Race. I got Salomon coming to demo shoes and give out some swag. Things seem to be coming together ok for it. I have over 130 women registered now, so it is going to be insane. Looking forward to Sunday when I can just yell "go", step back and watch the race happen.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Easy Week

Wow. Now, I remember why I don't taper, and you can't even call what I did tapering. I tried to take it easy this week, but it only lasted until Thursday. I took Monday off of running but had to get some exercise, so I went right to Tin Mountain after work to do some recon on my Dirty Girl Trail Race Course. I walked the whole thing, still wearing my uniform so I wouldn't be tempted to run.
Race Director Selfie
The course looks great since my Tin Mt contact blew the leaves off the trail. It saves me a lot of work. I still have two very short sections I need to clear, but that will take me no time at all. I have over 120 women signed up for the race. I'm floored. I didn't expect the numbers to be so high, but I guess I found a niche.

Tuesday, I hit the Bolles Preserve by Chocorua lake for an easy 5.7 mile trail run. Way too short and easy, but I was still feeling Sleepy Hollow in my lower legs, so easy was good. The afternoon was a wash with a dentist appointment mix-up with John. We ended up having the time wrong and were too late for them to see him. It wouldn't have been a big deal, but his dentist is an hour away, so it kind of killed the day. We still got in a short walk in a park in Meredith.

Wednesday, I was considering a treadmill run before work but talked myself out of it. Convinced myself to take another zero. My horoscope confirmed this.
Probably a good thing because the quiet day at work did turn into a sleepless night. Not a single call, then, boom, right at 8pm, 3 back-to-back-to-back. I teched 2/3 so as soon as we got back, I had to write up two reports. By the time I was in bed, it was almost midnight. About an hour and 45 minutes later, I was woken up by dispatch to let us know we had a paramedic transfer to Maine Med. I was struggling to wake up, so I made a to-go cup of coffee while we waited for the stipend crew to come in. Then we hit the road. Surprisingly, I was wide awake for the whole drive there. After we left our patient, who was a bundle of joy (not), we hit the EMS room hoping for a sweet spread of snacks for EMS week. Last year, we had gourmet pizza and fruit, but I guess middle of the night losers are only left with one rotten strawberry and a cheap plastic frisbee.
I was pretty freakin' tired, but I had no problem driving back to North Conway. The sun was rising, and my partner kept up conversation to keep me awake. Plus, I was on coffee #2. As soon as we got back, I managed a 30-minute cat nap before heading home.

There was no way I was taking another zero, even in my delirious state. I had coffee #3, visited the chiropractor (yes, Fryeburg) and then jumped on the Mountain Division Trail for a run. I was SO antsy after taking it so easy that I went out all crazy. Way too fast. No reason for it other than I just wanted to run and run hard. Half way through I felt like I was going to die. I had spotted a car key on the ground along the way but didn't pick it up, since I thought it might make it harder for whoever dropped it to find it, but just before I turned around, I saw a woman walking and obviously looking for something. I asked if she had dropped a key. She had, so I told her I would pick it up for her on my way back and then run it back to her. It was farther than I remembered, though, and the extra mileage hurt a little. I stopped to talk to her for a minute then continued on, but I had killed my momentum and ran back to the car much slower than the way out. Just a stupid ass run. Not smart. Still 6:27/mile pace for 8.3 miles, but it was just dumb and then got me worried about Vermont City. If I struggled at that pace for 8.3, how the hell am I going to do the marathon?!

I was super busy the rest of the day, so instead of catching up on sleep, I was on my feet all day prepping for my parents' arrival Thursday evening. I picked John up at his aerial class at Saco Valley Gymnastics and then picked my parents up at the bus stop in Conway a few hours later. We caught up for awhile, and I finally made it to bed by 11pm.

Friday, I slept in until 7:30am. I dropped John off at his homeschool group at Tin Mountain, then headed over to Hemlock Lane for an easy trail run with all 3 of my dogs. I ran Side hill over near Thompson Rd then back on the Pillar-to-Pond Trail for an easy, slow 5 miles. It's weird for this to be my easy, short run now. Just last year, this was one of my routine runs. Now, it seems way too short and easy. But as far as this week goes, it was the perfect choice.
I picked up John at Tin Mt, then went home. I still had to shower, eat and pack, so we weren't on the road to Burlington until after 3pm. 

Once in Burlington, we checked into the hotel, then hit Church St for dinner at Sweetwaters. We were starving! Awesome place. They even had poutine!
Big day tomorrow with the Expo and all of the other stuff I have to do, so it will be a day to get serious and start thinking about the race. I don't wear the serious hat too often, but I guess I can pull it off for a day and a half. There's no messing around on Sunday if I want to meet my goal, so I have to cut my usual shit and get with it mentally. I'm nervous but looking forward to it.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Sleepy Hollow Mountain Race

Saturday, I took it easy but got in a few loops around the neighborhood. I had to do something, so I ran 5 loops, 4.6 miles, 7:22/mi pace. 388 ft of gain (which is quite a bit for my petite neighborhood). After the run, John and I went to the Home & Garden Show in Fryeburg in hopes of finding some decent stuff for our gardens, but I thought the stuff was overpriced and the rest just a bunch of sales booths with stuff I couldn't afford. I tried the samples and moved on. I did walk away with two pairs of alpaca socks for John and a bar of soap. Not really worth the price of admission, but it was something different to do.
Photo by Roger Marcoux, who was at the Home & Garden show with his Dragonfly Aerial stuff.

The afternoon was just a walk up Heavenly Hill with John and the dogs. More bug hell; more whining from me. :)
The next morning, we didn't have to get up too early to head to Vermont since the Sleepy Hollow Mountain Race had a noon start. That was really nice since it's a 3 hour drive for us. We would have camped there overnight if it had still been the early start from the first two years. John was lucky to sleep for half of the drive, so it didn't seem too long for him. I brought extra coffee for me. The drive over there is always so beautiful, and I don't mind it. We got there a little after 10am, and all of that sitting left my legs stiff. I went to pick up my bib and started seeing so many familiar faces, which is so nice. It's one of my favorite things about the mountain series; the people who run it. It's like a family reunion. There were still quite a few new faces and some missing faces, but the same core of people was still present. And I LOVE this race. It's my type of race with the 3 up-downs. I'm better at these than the up-only races, which I still struggle with. I can only do 6 out of the 8 races of the Series, so I was a bit nervous. No room for error with any of them. No bad races allowed. And since I knew I would PR on the course this year, I had a feeling I would be in the top for the women. The usual women weren't there, though, and I didn't know who might show up. This was all going through my head with still an hour and a half until race time, so I decided to go ahead and do a warm-up to get rid of the nervousness and leg stiffness. As I was putting on my shoes, I noticed that the pretty much had no tread left. Oops. I guess it's time for a new pair. Luckily, this race wasn't too technical.

John was content in the car while I warmed up, so I walked up past the start and up to where the first climb begins and then started running. I passed some people I knew walking the course and chatted with them for a bit before continuing on to the top of the climb where the King/Queen of the Mountain is crowned. I wanted this to be me this year. It was my first goal for the race. I turned around and followed the 4th mile of the course back down to the finish area for just over 2.1 miles. I knew I would have to warm up again closer to start time, but I was feeling really good after this first warm up, strong and not the least bit fatigued. I knew I was going to have a good race.

I went back to the car and brought John up to the start area to show him the new porch swings. He remembered being here last year, so he was comfortable. About 30 minutes to go, I went out for another warm up and only went a half mile. I was good; I didn't need anymore. John decided he wanted to stay in the round house during the race so I walked him over there to watch the start from the porch and take a few pictures.
Photo by John before the start 
As we lined up, I started seeing some "fast" shirts. Craft Concepts, yeah, not a single slow woman on that team, and she had the leg muscles to prove it. Hmm. I recognized the Millennium runner who passed me in the last mile at New Bedford. uh-oh. Of course, I've beaten fast roadies before who show up at mountain races, since fast road doesn't always equal fast mountain runner. But it still meant I had to go off fast to test them out and not lose it. I lined up towards the front and where I could see both women. I opted for no team uniform, even though I was racing for CMS. I like going incognito lately.
Right after the start. Photo by Gianina Lindsey

The race started and I went out with only the Craft woman in front of me. I hung behind her until we got to the first climb, but I could tell she didn't have it on the climb so I decided to pass her. I could hear another woman right behind me so I continued to push it. The crowd was already thinning, so it made it easy to maneuver. There's a short downhill section on the first climb that I went all-out on because I could still hear the woman who was right behind me. By the time we started climbing again, she was a step over my right shoulder. I wanted Queen of the Mountain, so I picked up the pace to hammer it up the rest of the climb. As we moved onto the single track about 30 seconds later, I looked back to see she had dropped way back and that I would also have QOTM in the bag. I knew then that she wasn't a good climber, but that she could hang on the down. The next downhill section was more technical, but since that's a strength of mine, I decided to go all out again. I wanted a good lead before the next LONG climb, so that I could cut it back a bit. At the bottom of the downhill near the water stop, I looked back and only saw a few men. Then we hit the uphill. I have had to walk at least some portion of this the last two years, but not this time. There was no way I was walking, and I never felt the need to. I looked back occasionally on the climb up and kept thinking I was seeing a woman not too far behind so I picked it up even more. I was running scared. I was relieved when it finally leveled off after mile 3 and started the downhill back down to the field where we'd pass the finish area and continue on. I ran pretty hard on the down. 
Photo by Scott Mason at the beginning of the second downhill.

Thinking someone was close and knowing this was easy footing for a fast run, I didn't want to take any chances. Before we knew it, we were passing mile 4 and passing through the field. I had always thought the next climb was really hard and, just like the second hill, had always walked portions of it. And like the last climb, I wasn't having any of that walking bit, since I looked back at the beginning of the climb and thought I saw the second woman not far behind me (Turns out, I never saw the second woman after that first look back before QOTM; it was a guy wearing similar color clothing the entire time.). The climb seemed much shorter than before, but I know it wasn't. I'm just in much better shape than the last two years. 
Top of the last climb. Photo by Gianina Lindsey

Still thinking I had second woman on my heels, I went all out on the last downhill. Towards the bottom, I took one last look back and only saw one guy who had been there the whole time. At this point, I knew I had the win. I didn't hold back since my third goal of a sub-50 was looming. I pushed it in finishing in 49:08, 1st woman, 21st overall (STRONG men's field). Over a 3 minute PR on the course for me. I was psyched. I needed those 100 points for the Series, since the rest (except Cranmore and Bretton Woods) won't come as easily to me. Pack Monadnock and Loon are my arch nemeses. Plus, I just wanted the win at Sleepy Hollow. Granted, the usuals weren't there, but I think I would have hung right in there, even if they had shown up. RESULTS

After talking with a few people, I walked down to the round house and found John inside. I talked to him for a few minutes, gave him some food and then went out for an easy cool down on some of the mountain bike trails. It was the only thing that would stop me from pouring in sweat. Once back, John and I got his bathing suit out of the car so that he could swim in the pond. He loved that and stayed in and out and of the water up until awards time.
Jumping in the pond

Front flip into the pond. He said this one hurt. LOL
The awards were short and sweet, and I won some great loot. The elusive GALLON of maple syrup was finally mine. After years of only winning the small bottles (except the Pinnacle Ultra where I won a big bottle), I finally got the gallon! I also won $75. For being Queen of the Mountain, I won a pair of Salomon shoes and a stuffed Mountain Goat. I admit it. I love the goat. In fact, it's right next to me on my bar as I type this. :)
John with my winnings. He loves to climb on my car.
We were some of the last to leave after the awards. We made our way down the interstate and finally made the stop at the Ben&Jerry's Factory for ice cream. And, wow, what a line!! It took over a half hour to get through, but, fortunately, a woman who had been volunteering at the race just happened to be in front of us in line, so we passed the time chatting it up. I forgot to get her name, but she was super cool and is due with her first child in 3 months. I hope all goes well for her with that. We finally got our ice cream, and it was so worth the wait in the 80 degree temps. We both got waffle cones.
Ben&Jerry's Factory in Vermont

It was a big splurge for me since I stopped eating sugar a month ago. I ate none the first week, but have had some occasionally since then. Just cutting out the sugar had me drop 8 pounds in 3 weeks. I had gained that 8 pounds over March and April and could really feel it. There was no way I was walking into VCM at that weight expecting to run a sub-3, so a month ago, I just went cold turkey. It hasn't been easy, but I'm so happy to have cut out that craving. And since I have, that ice cream ended up being too much for me. I could feel it the next day. Puffy eyes and face. Now, I'm really getting the reason behind cutting it down to a minimum. My body feels so much healthier.

We finally made it home after 6pm. I was spent. I had raced hard, but now it was time to go into recovery mode for the week. VCM is less than a week away....

Friday, May 15, 2015

Play Day

Wednesday ended up being a zero day. I couldn't get myself out of bed to get on the treadmill at 0430 before  work. I just could not do it. And when I realized I didn't regret it or feel antsy all day, I knew it was the right move. I needed it. Other than one 911 late morning, most of the day was like this:

Then this:

Followed by this:

And then life got a little more exciting when I FINALLY received the art work for my shirts for the Dirty Girl Trail Race coming up on May 31(shameless plug: Single ladies, wives, girlfriends, sisters, daughters, mistresses, sign up here: Dirty Girl Trail Race registration). I had asked multiple times over the last two weeks for a proof of the design. They kept putting me off. I was getting worried, and then the email came. I was excited....until I saw it. OH.MY.GOD. My jaw dropped. I looked around for a camera. This must be a cruel joke. 
Come run the Dirty Stripper Trail Race!!
What the hell is THAT?! I thought this had to be a joke, but it wasn't. It was not what I asked for. I quickly shot back an email that was, well, a little harsh. Ok, probably too harsh since I said it was awful and probably took 10 minutes to draw. Oops. But I was horrified, in panic mode, AND they tried to blame me for it! They said I only gave them a "few weeks" to design it. I don't know what their definition of "few" is, but I wouldn't call March 21st a few weeks ago. They also said they drew everything I asked for. Call me crazy, but that looks like a bathing suit, not running clothes. I digress. It was down to the wire and no time to fix it, so it looks like last year's design with a different color shirt will be it. I'm bummed, but whatever. It's just a race shirt. This company has had my business the last 3 years, and they just lost it. What can I do? But I have to say, it provided immense entertainment around the ambulance base. Just seeing everyone's reaction when I showed it to them made me realize I was not alone in my horror. Ha ha.

After that excitement wore off, it was quiet again. All until 0100, when we got a patient transfer. Without fail, a quiet day ensures a middle of the night transfer. On our way back, Conway got a call, and, by the sound of it, I had a feeling we'd be headed with that patient to Maine Med as soon as we got back. But good weather was on our side, and Life Flight was able to fly the patient instead. It would have been an all-nighter for us otherwise. Dodged a bullet with that one, but I still only managed 3.5 hours of sleep.

As usual, I ignore my lack of sleep and get on with my plans for the day. Since this would be my last real Thursday free for awhile (picked up a lot of shifts for the next month and a half), I decided to have as much fun as possible. I had coffee before leaving work, so I just came home and changed clothes before heading out for a "short" Moat Mt run loop. I have a whole Moat traverse loop (14.5 miles) that I came up with on New Year's Day, but I didn't want to go that far this time.

I parked on High St at the gate and hit the High School Loop, but instead of following it when it veered right, I kept going to the former Moat Mt Trail. The Moat Mt Trail was rerouted in 2003, but the old trail still exists and is completely clear. It looks like someone uses it regularly for 4-wheeling, so it's easy to run on. I accidentally "discovered" it 2 years ago when I missed the turn on the High School Loop. As I was running up it, I thought it seemed familiar and wondered if I was on the former Moat Mt Trail (which I had done numerous times). Once I hit the reroute, I realized I was right, and this is the only way I ever go up South Moat now, since it makes it easy to do a loop up the Moats and back to the car. I felt really good on the way up South Moat. It's a climb that always seems difficult for me, but I was pleased to find that I ran it in my second fastest time. This was a comforting feeling since I usually run my best later in the year after running mountains all late Spring and Summer. This is definitely a good sign that I will be in mountain shape much sooner this year than the last 4 years when I feel like I start at the bottom every Spring. I'd say I'm 3/4s of the way this year. The weather was spectacular, and I stopped on South Moat for about 5 minutes.
Me on South Moat Mountain 
The next part of the run is my favorite with the run along the open ridge. It's kind of like being above tree line, but you're not. Running and looking out at the view. You can't beat it. It never gets old.
Ridge between South and Middle Moats
I'm always a little sad to drop back down into the trees, but for my short loop, I have Red Ridge to look forward to, since it's also open with a fantastic view. The trail climbs from the woods back to the summit of Middle Moat and then veers right for the Red Ridge Trail.
On the way down Red Ridge
This run brings me back down to the FS Road, and I have a plethora of choices through the Mineral Site at this point. I did the usual Lower Stoney Ridge back to the FR Rd which eventually brought me back to my car. 10.7 miles in 2hrs21min. Just over 2900ft of elevation gain. Beautiful weather, perfect trail conditions. Funny, though. When I finished, I ran into a woman who said it looked like I hadn't even run yet. She was almost right; I felt like I hadn't even run. It was almost too easy. ;)

The play day continued with my plan to kayak on Silver Lake. Fortunately, I have a fiberglass boat, since it's just me, and there's no such thing as help. There's no way I'd be able to lift any other kayak onto my car. I still have to use a step stool. Ha ha.
How cute is that? 
It was a beautiful paddle on Silver Lake, but it was odd having a swarm of black flies following me the whole way all the way out in the middle of the lake. I couldn't really stop for long before they would catch up. Whenever I kayak, I'm immediately transported back to age 24 when it was almost a requirement to have a beer while kayaking, so I couldn't help myself and brought along a 'Ganset Shandy.
Check out that view! The mountains are nice, too. 

I decided to paddle from one end to the other from a parking area off of 113 (that doesn't require a town sticker) to the Town Beach and back. It was pretty close to being the full length of the lake which is about 2.5 miles long. I'm a bit out of upper body shape, and I could feel it in my arms, but my kayak is so easy to paddle, that I didn't have any trouble. It was so nice being out in the middle of the lake, and I literally had the entire lake to myself. I saw two loons, one of which was calling. That never ceases to be cool. I miss kayaking. I haven't done much of it in the last few years, and it's been sad looking at my kayak just sitting there unused for so many years. I finally got a roof rack, so I plan to get out a lot more this summer.
Yes, I'm still wearing the same hat from my run, so I, obviously, hadn't showered. Haha.
As soon as I got home, I changed back into running clothes and drove down to Rochester for the Six03 pub run again. This time, I didn't know anybody there, so it was a little awkward. Only two of us were running the 5 miles, so I just decided to stay with the other person and help him out a bit. It was a super easy run for me but definitely a push for him. He was really thankful for it afterward and pretty excited he was able to run so fast. I was happy I could help him out since I didn't need to run fast on this second run. Afterwards, we had drinks and food upstairs at the Revolution Taproom, which is a pretty nice place. 40 beers on tap and really good food. I had to just throw myself into the group as best I could, and I ended up talking to some nice people. By the time, I was done eating, I could barely keep my eyes open, but this time I didn't spill anything... there. I grabbed a coffee for the way home, and ended up spilling a quarter of it into the cup holder. That reminds me. I still need to clean that. I was able to stay awake for the drive just fine, but as soon as I got home, I couldn't get my head on that pillow fast enough. I didn't wake up again until 8am.

Friday was another day on the trails for me, so after a late start, I hit another of my favorite trails, Sawyer Pond Trail off the Kanc. The trail starts with a ford of Swift River, which can be a pain, but it does keep the riff-raff away somewhat. The river was frigid, and my feet were numb for about 5 minutes, but they warmed up just fine after that. It's a pretty easy run with a gentle grade up and then down for about 4.3 miles to the pond. I've always had the place to myself, and today was no exception. It is so quiet and peaceful there, so I had to hang out for about 10 minutes.
Sawyer Pond

I reluctantly headed back down the trail for the 4.3 miles back. It was an easy run back for a total of 8.7 miles (I actually missed some mileage on my GPS after stopping it to clean out my shoe and forgetting to restart it for .4 miles). Over a 1000ft of elevation gain. Less than an hour and a half of running. I have to admit that it's been nice not focusing on pace/mile this week. I don't even care when I'm on the trail. It's all about the effort out there. I really needed to get off the road this week, although, I might do a short road run around the neighborhood in the morning, but I'm not sure yet.

This afternoon, John and I explored the trails up at the new conservation area off West Side Rd. We walked randomly for almost 3 miles, finding all sorts of mountain bike trails. I'll have to come back on Tuesday to go farther on them. I know some of them end up over at the Mineral Site Trails, but I want to find out exactly where they all go. I love finding new trails. It was super buggy, though. Mosquitos!! I hate them. I think I was whining the whole time about them. John just confirmed that, yes, I was whining about the mosquitos the whole time. Ha ha. The one thing that makes me whine. Bugs! I was swarmed. No mosquitos at my house and not a single bug at Sawyer Pond, not even black flies, so most of the day was bug-free.
John running up a trail
Tomorrow will be a near-o or a zero. I haven't decided yet, and then it's Sleepy Hollow Mountain Race on Sunday. I can't believe Vermont is just over a week away! I'm so ready! I've been ready. But I have a mountain race to get through first.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Back to Trails

Sunday was the typical Sunday. Even though it was Mother's Day, I wasn't planning on doing anything different, especially if it involved spending money, since I had to pay for it. So I slept in which is always nice, had some coffee, made John breakfast and then hit the usual Heavenly Hill repeats. It was really hot and humid, but it actually felt good, since I really need to get acclimated to that type of weather for the summer races. I was actually pretty sore after Merrimack. I'm not surprised, though. I ran my hardest on the hills which really kicked my ass. The trail up Heavenly Hill was much easier to run on without the leaves, but I still ran slower than usual, due to the fatigue from the race. I did 4 repeats of the hill for 4.8 miles and over 1800ft of gain. I actually ended up getting in over 5000ft of gain for the week, so I hit my goal after all. I'm feeling stronger on the climbs already and am pretty confident about Sleepy Hollow this weekend. I feel like I can PR on the course, no problem (barring a mudfest like last year). I still hit over 60 miles for the week, just as planned.

Since it was so hot, I decided to make our hike short. I needed to fill up my water jugs at the Sandwich Spring, so I took John down to West Rattlesnake Mt in Holderness which was down that way. When we got there, the parking lots were blocked off with tape, and big signs saying "TRAILS CLOSED" were all over the place. I read why the trails were closed. Mud season. Well, after that extremely dry spell we had, I knew the trail wouldn't be muddy, so we parked down the road and proceeded up the mountain. I've been known to break a rule or two. ;) We weren't the only ones. There were a lot of other people up there, and the trail was bone dry. If it had been muddy, I would have complied, but that trail should not have been closed. It was an easy walk for a spectacular view. Only .9 miles up. We were sweating like crazy, and black flies were swarming every time we stopped, but at the top, there was a nice breeze, so we hung out awhile.
John on West Rattlesnake

Me on West Rattlensnake
Since it was so hot, I really wanted a cold beer and went back on my plan of not spending money on myself for Mother's Day. On the way back through Sandwich, we stopped at the Corner House Inn. I had never been there, so I thought why the hell not. John wanted root beer, and they just happened to have it on tap. I hate buying him soda, but I've made exceptions for restaurants and other special occasions. I had a Moat Brown, and we both got flatbread pizza. The pub didn't have any a/c, so we sweat our asses off, but I didn't care. It was great.
Mother's Day at the Corner House Inn in Sandwich, NH
We stopped at the Sandwich Spring on the way back and actually had to wait in a line for once. We don't drink our tap water, so I fill up 20 gallons each time. I felt bad for the guy in line behind me, but the spring is flowing well, so it took me less than 10 minutes.

Monday rolled around so I was up for a 5 mile run on the treadmill. I had trouble getting myself out of bed to do it and almost didn't, but a little bit of a pep talk to myself got me up and moving. Took me awhile to get warmed up, but once the right song came over the headphones, I was moving fine. Same as usual, 1-3% incline, 7:18/mi pace. Not bad for 4-something in the morning. 

I went to work in Tamworth. Not too busy. One decent call. In less than a week, I've taken 3 patients to Huggins Hospital in Wolfeboro. Prior to that, I hadn't taken anyone there since 2011. So it's been odd getting used to a different hospital's procedures and staff I don't know. I'm so used to Memorial Hospital, but I'm starting to get the hang of it. I look less like an idiot each time we're there. ha ha. At 5pm, I left and drove right up to Bartlett for the 6p-6a on-call shift and to do the billing. But first, I grabbed a radio and then hit Thorne Pond for a walk. I did 4 loops around the pond for about 2.5 miles. It was so needed. Once back at the station, I got the billing done, shattered my phone screen and ate a box of $.80 rice. LOL. My manager came by to pick up his truck and hung out for awhile. Literally, less than 5 minutes (no exaggeration) after discussing a place in Jackson that I said I had never been to, we got toned out to that VERY SPOT. No joke. That EXACT spot. And that is how EMS works. The second you say the word "never", you can bet that's what you are doing next. If you say you haven't been on a call to a certain place for awhile, that will be the majority of your calls for the next month. Haven't seen a certain medical issue in awhile and you voice that? Well, that's going to be one of your next few calls. It's so funny how it works that way. That was the only call, so I was lucky to get sleep.

I was up right at 6am because the running week I had been waiting for was finally here! Lots of trail running! I made coffee at the station and drove down to High St for a long run at the Mineral Site. As always, it was complete solitude the whole way. I started at the gate and ran down FR 739 to the trails, hitting the Electric Loop and then onto Lower and Upper Stoney Ridge Trails to the top of Whitehorse. Since this doesn't happen very often, I have to gloat when it does. Look who stole the CR on Lower Stoney Ridge. :)
Lower Stoney Ridge Climb Strava CR

The top of Whitehorse was covered in fog, so it was just me with the fog for the view. My mom HATES my Buffs. I can kind of see why, but I still love them.
Summit of Whitehorse Ledge Selfie

I went back down and veered off the Stoney Ridge Trails back to the FR road to Tent Boulder, to Mineral Site to High School Loop for a 13.4 mile loop back to my car in 2hr10min with 1660ft of elevation gain. Nothing crazy. The run was super easy for me. I felt like I was gliding along the whole way. Amazing how easy 13 miles is. This time a year ago, I was running 20-30 mile weeks and struggling to get back into mountain shape. I was not in a place in my life I wanted to be, and, oh, how that has changed. I never thought I would be the subject of a Level Renner interview for being an Invited Athlete to VCM. I didn't think I had that in me... ever. I still don't know if I'll hit my goal. It could all go to shit, but I'm enjoying the ride. Here's a link to the interview:
Sub-3:00 or Bust for O’Dell (No pressure! Eek!)
I tried to keep it humorous to keep it interesting. Oh, and I do have another nickname I forgot about. "#CW". You'll have to ask me in person what that stands for. ;)

This afternoon, John and I went for another mountain bike ride and brought along 2 of the dogs. I took him over to some trails close to where I ran this morning, but we went in off of West Side Road instead. We hit the Railroad Grade Trail and Ultimate Single Track for 3.9 miles. I had never been on either trail so it was nice to check it out. Mostly flat, but very rooty. We stopped by a pond for the dogs to get water and had a beaver pop up from under water right in front of us. John loved it. It was really cool to see one that up-close.
Railroad Grade Trail

Helmet dork

Caught one of the two of us together
Tomorrow, I will struggle to get up and hit the treadmill again before my 24-hour shift. I'm tired just thinking about it.