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....

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