Friday, June 26, 2015


Sunday- As promised, it was mostly a John day. We both slept in. I went for a run around the neighborhood while John had his breakfast. I had woken up super sore after Mt Washington, but I hardly felt it on my run. The loops are boring, but it's an option I'm lucky to have. I ran 8 loops which made 7.5 miles at a 7:33/mi pace. I've run it much faster, but on fresh legs, so I was happy with it. Always decent hills, too, so it was a good run to loosen up the legs.

I showered, then John, the three dogs and I drove over to Freedom to walk up Mary's Mountain and around Trout Pond. It was raining a bit, so I knew we wouldn't see any people. That's one thing I love about hiking in the rain; you usually have places all to yourselves. I also appreciated the lack of bugs; that place is normally swarming with deer flies and mosquitos, but there were no deer flies and only a few mosquitos by the pond outlet. Somehow my memory failed me on the distance, and I told John we were only walking about a mile. Oops. It ended up being 3.4, but he still had fun.
John and Chill on Mary's Mtn

John and Chill

Ossipee Lake from Mary's Mtn

John trying to avoid the camera

Trout Pond
After our walk, we rushed home to drop the dogs off so we could get to the movies in time. John LOVES going to the movies, and I'll admit that I do, too. I always have. I took him to see Jurassic World, and the theater was completely full. I have never seen that little North Conway theater so full since I've been going there (1998, but then again, there were 3 movie theaters in the Valley in 1998). John absolutely loved the movie. I thought it was silly, but he's a 9 year old boy. That stuff is awesome to him. And it's so cute to watch how excited he gets. I have to quiet him the entire movie because he wants to talk to the whole time. LOL. I hate quieting him, though, so I just try to make sure he whispers and doesn't talk when the movie is on a quiet scene. So John had a good day, which is the usual most of the time anyway. :)

Monday- I worked a 10 hour shift in Tamworth. We had one call with a cool injury (can't write what it was; HIPPA violation) and a fire alarm. We got called to a car accident, too, but were cancelled en route. Not a super busy day, but busy enough for it to fly by.

After work, I finally ventured back to Green Mountain in Effingham, where John and I hiked on my birthday. There are 3 trails that go up Green Mountain, and I wanted to hit all of them, so I parked at the Dearborn Trail, ran up to the top, then ran down the Libby Trail, back up, then down the High Watch Trail, back up, then back down the Dearborn. It was a much more brutal run than I thought it would be. The Dearborn and High Watch Trails were super steep, while the Libby Trail was an old jeep road that the caretaker used to drive up; it was a nice break in the middle of the other two. I loved checking out all 3 trails, though. Each one was completely different. The Dearborn was your typical single track type trail. Libby was the graded jeep trail, and the High Watch was a wide path covered in pine needles and a lot of rock slabs. Very interesting run. Plus, it was a lot of elevation gain over 8.4 miles at just over 3600 ft. I definitely felt Mt Washington in legs, for sure.

Evening on Green Mtn

Almost 8pm, and this is how light it is. Love it.
Tuesday- Slept in a bit until 7:30am. Had a cup of coffee, then slowly motivated myself to get dressed for another run. It was raining, but not too hard. I figured it would be at least be cool, but I have to admit that I was sick of it raining on Tuesdays, since this was the 4th in a row. But whatever. For some reason, I started craving the road runs again, so I decided to do a Potter Road Loop over near Conway Lake in Center/South Conway. As soon as I stepped out of my car and started running, the rain got heavier and heavier. AND.IT.DID.NOT.STOP.THE.ENTIRE.RUN. No lie. And it wasn't just heavy. It was a torrential downpour. Just unbelievable. The rain was so heavy, it was getting in my eyes blinding me. I remember looking up, holding my arms and yelling, "This is insane!!" I was laughing as I said because I was just amazed. 11 miles, still at a good pace 7:34/mi. Around 900 ft of elevation gain. I got back to my car SOAKED to the bone. I took off my shirt and wrung it out; water came pouring out of it. Just unreal, but funny.

Needless to say, I was done being out in the rain for the day. John and I ran a few errands, then I took him to his ninja class. It was the end of the session class/pizza party, so I skipped Whitaker Woods in order to make sure he was there on time. It had started pouring rain just as they were finishing up the class before the pizza, so John went out to cool off and run around. Soon enough, all of the kids were out there in the pouring rain playing in the puddles. It was awesome.
John cooling off in the pouring rain after ninja class
I kept seeing posts on FB about a tornado watch. OMG! Ha ha. I'm from the South. Those are common occurrences there. No big deal, but people up here were freaking out. It was kind of funny.

Wednesday- Up at 4:30am for a 5 mile treadmill run. Felt great. 35:56. 7:11/mi pace. Off to work and then off to Boston for our all day cluster of a transfer to Mass General. I thought Memorial Hospital was bad (I joke about someone dragging me over the State Line before they call 911, so I can be taken to Bridgton Hospital instead. LOL), but Mass General dropped the ball somehow. We ended up there for an HOUR just trying to get our patient somewhere. It was insane. The place was like a freaking airport; we couldn't even get into the elevators with the stretcher because they were all packed with people. Just a crazy experience there. We had planned to drive around the city hitting landmarks to take pictures of the ambulance in front of, but we ended up have to bolt right back to North Conway. We did stop to grab lunch at Kelly's in Saugus, though, so I got at least one ambulance photo. ha ha.
I was so hungry I ate my entire roast beef sandwich in less than 5 minutes.
The evening was quiet, and then we only had one 911 call in the middle of the night. Simple enough, so I got a decent night's sleep.

Thursday- Up, showered at the base, drove to Tamworth for another 10 hour shift. We were actually pretty busy with calls, so the day went by quickly. After 34 hours, I am super antsy to get out for my run at 5pm, but as luck would have it, at 4:18pm, a tone dropped. The other crew was already on a call, so we were up. It was a pretty quick call, but we still ended up getting out after 6pm. The run I had planned was aborted, and I opted for a shorter one in Madison, close to work. I ran out East Shore Drive to Lead Mine Rd to East Madison Rd and then back. Faster than I felt like it would be. 9.1 miles. 7:12/mi pace. 729ft of elevation gain. Good run.

I ended up home after 8pm, so my plans to set up my fire pit were out the window. It was nice to have some quiet time tonight after being surrounded by people the last two days. And it was nice not to have the dogs. They've been going nuts lately when I let them out. This orange cat (looks like my first cat "Butterscotch") started hanging around the house, so they keep catching his/her scent and driving me crazy. I needed a break from that tonight.

Tomorrow, I'll do a short run, then I have to pack up the car for our trip to Wilmington, NY for the Whiteface SkyMarathon. We're going to camp at a campground right near the race site. I'm hoping to watch the Vertical K race on Saturday morning then do some nice hikes in the area. It will be a good weekend with John. My race is on Sunday morning. It's set at 19 miles over 9000ft of elevation gain. It's going to hurt, but I love this kind of stuff. And with this kind of race, I go out just to finish the damn thing. I don't care what my place or time is. I'll be too busy in my own head to worry about what other people are doing.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Mt Washington Road Race 2015

Last week was an odd week with the time off from running and the extra 24-hour shift thrown in there, but it all went well. I got up early Wednesday and hit 6 miles on the treadmill, just as planned. Decent pace at 7:13/mi. My legs were SO sore for the first 3 miles, so it was a struggle getting warmed up. I knew that the plan for the next 2 days to take zeros was the right one. And it definitely was.

That afternoon, I walked our road at work, and my calves were in agony. The day was mostly quiet at work. One 911 in the morning and then a middle of the night transfer to MMC. 4 hours of sleep. Thursday isn't a transfer day, so Michelle and I were the only crew on for the 24. The morning was quiet, so I walked a total of 3 miles up and down our street. No soreness in the legs. Awesome. After that, I did our supply inventory. Lack of sleep caught up with me, so for the next 3 hours I was on the couch napping on and off. I never nap, so it was a sign I was tired. We had a 911 up on Hurricane Mountain Rd that afternoon and had to wait around for 2 hours until the fire chief cleared us. It wasn't a bad spot to be stuck in for two hours.
Michelle and me on Hurricane Mountain Rd
That night was actually quiet until a 911 call came in at 5am, but it was short and sweet. I got my report done, and then the 48 hour shift was done. It wasn't bad at all; I wouldn't mind doing a 48 as my regular schedule if I could.

I would be lying if I said I didn't consider running on Friday morning. My legs felt ok, but I knew another day off wouldn't hurt them. I decided on a flat walk in the Albany Town Forest. It's such a nice walk along the Swift River. No bugs. Few people. 3.7 miles total. 

I ran some errands before John came home, and then we spent an hour at Conway Lake before it was time to head to the Moat for dinner with some other runners. I broke all of my prerace rules that night. First, just going out to eat. Then having a beer... which led to another beer. I thought it would stop there, but no. Ended up at a bar for a THIRD beer. No big deal. I only had the Mt Washington Road Race the next morning! But to be honest, I didn't really care, and I don't regret it. Would I make a habit of it? No, but sometimes, you just have to say, "Fuck it." I still made my fresh vegetable juice when I got home and drank the usual cup of Dandelion tea before bed. I had a feeling I was going to be fine when I woke up. 

The next morning, I woke up half an before my alarm ready to go... until I stood up. Sore hip flexors!!! No!!! Not good. That's the last thing I wanted to be sore for Mt Washington. But, oh well, I was just going to have to deal. 

I left pretty early to take John to his grandparents', stopped at Bagels Plus for one of their awesome power bagel bars then got up to the Auto Rd by 7am. I learned my lesson to get there early after getting stuck in the parking traffic ONCE. On the drive up, I couldn't help but get excited about the weather. We lucked out with the most perfect day weather-wise. Clear skies, little wind. It was just ideal, and I hoped that would mean a sub 1:30 for me.

I was feeling pretty nervous, as I always do, since I have never run well here. I've always done something wrong. This would be my 4th time doing the race. I had an ok race in 2013, but 2014 was awful. A lot of it was probably my state of mind at the time, combined with poor training. I actually ran the entire Auto Rd without walking once and finished over 3 minutes slower than 2013. So, this year, I decided that I would power walk when I felt like I needed to and not worry about the "stigma" of it. Uphill-only races are not my strength. It's just a fact. I had a lot of people throwing out times they thought I could run it this year, but I knew better and set my low goal at finally breaking 1:30. My high goal was 1:25, but I honestly didn't think I would hit it. I just cannot figure out how to run this mountain right. This year ended up being no exception either.

Since I was there so early, I was able to take my time so I socialized a bit then decided to do a warm up on the trails at Great Glen. Surprisingly, I was all alone back there. I didn't see one other person, so it was kind of nice. I made an easy 2-mile loop. I felt ok, but even on the easy uphills I was feeling the hip flexors. Not good at all, but other than that, I actually felt great. Once back in the parking area, I spent a lot of the time talking to people I knew. Just last year, I hardly knew more than a few people, but since I've expanded my circle over the last year, I felt like I knew almost everyone who walked by. I even had more people introducing themselves to me. It helped to calm my nerves.

Before I knew it, we only had 10 minutes to the start. I made sure I lined up in a better place than the previous 3 years, when I had started too far back and got caught behind walkers immediately. I lined up with Melissa Donais and Barbara McManus, my CMS teammates. The National Anthem was sung and then it was time. The gun went off. I've been notorious for going out too fast, so I sat back in a comfortable pace and ended up next to Apryl Sabadosa for about the first half mile. She would be gone after that, on to finish 3 minutes ahead of me. At the first mile, I was shocked to see my split at 9:22/mi. What?! Still too fast. Mile 2 is steeper, so I was forced to slow down and started to settle into a comfortable spot, until.... I heard him. Clear-his-throat guy!!!!! NO!!!! Every year! Seriously every year!! I end up near this guy for a mile or two. He makes this extremely loud noise with his throat, and it's the most distracting noise to deal with while running up the mountain. And I wasn't alone. The guy next to me also said he always ends up near the guy and has to speed up to get away from him. I have done the same thing the past 3 years. And there are other people who know whom I'm talking about. It's probably the same group of us around the same pace every year who end up near him. I quickly got around him this time early on, thankfully. I was not running near him for miles again! This was it! He always goes out too fast anyway, so it's easy to get away from him at some point. I was relieved to be done with him by mile 2. He's probably a super nice guy, but I just can't deal with that noise.

Mile 2 was a much better split at 11:15/mi, but I had a feeling I wasn't going to maintain anything close to 11. I kept plugging along. As usual, on mile 3, I always start to feel sick to my stomach. I don't know what it is, but it has happened every year. I also feel too hot around this time, too. The weather was cool, but I still had that same feeling in my gut and couldn't wait to get up above treeline where the air would be cooler. I was passed by two women from Cambridge Running during this mile, but they would be the only women to pass me the entire race, from bottom to top. I thought that was interesting since I'm usually passed by multiple women around mile 6. I hit mile 3 at a 12:06 pace. Not bad, but I knew I was losing it and that my high goal was out the window. My main hope now was to go under 1:30. I came through the half at 41:something. MUCH faster than last year, so I started to feel a bit hopeful until I remembered my second half is always much slower than the first. I was happy to see mile 4 since that meant I was about to have some air! Mile 4 was a similar pace to mile 3 with 12:01/mi. Surprisingly, the sore hip flexors weren't bothering me at this point, so I was happy about that.

We crossed 4000 ft and, shortly thereafter, came across Michael Quintal and Jim Johnson cheering everybody on. Jim got video of the entire race. I just watched it today, and it's sad because I was just shuffling. I look so weak. Ugh. Right after I passed them, I started walking parts of the road. My heart rate kept getting way up there, so I found it easier to power walk, and I was doing it at a really good pace. I only walked for 20 yards or so every time I did it, and I felt like that short distance really helped me recover to run again. But when I hit mile 5 at 13:01/mi pace, I thought this was going to be bad and that I might not even make my low goal. But, that ended up not being the case. After mile 5, I kind of got into a groove (of pain) and brought my pace back down hitting 12:39/mi for mile 6. I kept watching to woman in front of me and felt like she had slowed a bit. I knew I wouldn't catch her before the finish, but I still kept focusing in on her to help pull me along. My hip flexors had started to hurt around this point, but if my memory serves me correctly, they always hurt me here, so I don't think the prerace soreness really affected my race. There's a steep turn just past mile 6 that I took a quick look back on to see a woman (Tara, who was 2nd place at my Dirty Girl Trail Race) really close behind. I was surprised and then a little scared since I thought I might just have to "race" someone at the end. And sure enough, she was right there near mile 7 (12:25/mi pace).
After mile 7. You can see that I was almost caught. Photo by Scott Mason.
She actually caught up to me for a second with maybe .2 to go. There was NO WAY I was getting passed at this point. Just no way. And even though it killed me to speed up, I did. We hit The Wall, and I gave everything I had left. Suddenly, someone was over my right shoulder, and all I could see was long hair, so I looked over, relieved to find a man about to pass me. I didn't care. I just wasn't letting any woman pass me at this point.
In so much pain having to actually "race" up The Wall. Photo by Joe Viger.
Fortunately, I had given enough to pull through the finish 2 seconds ahead of Tara. Good enough for 16th woman and to hit my sub-1:30 goal with 1:29:14. Not my dream time, but I would take it. 11:21/mi pace for the last .6 miles. As soon as I crossed the finish, I stumbled a bit and a volunteer grabbed me to hold me up, but then he wouldn't let go. I appreciated the help, but I kept saying, "I've got it," over and over, just wanting him to let go of me so I could move. It probably only last a few seconds, but I felt like I was being suffocated forever. He finally let me go, and I walked ahead to be met by Regina Lociano. She had finished WAY ahead of me with a PR. She is such a strong runner, and it's good to see her back at it after some time recuperating. I hung out with her for a little while to watch people finish the race. I enjoyed our vantage point from the rocks above The Wall since it was easy to spot people. I watched a lot of people finish, but then started to get cold, so I went in search of Paul Kirsch's truck, where my bag was. I ran into Paul Basanchuk, and we went on a hunt for the truck. It took awhile, but we finally found it. I changed clothes then went in search of Denise Sandahl and Regina, whom I was supposed to run down the mountain with. Val Stori was supposed to join us, but I never found her. Mike Narcisi was coming along, but he needed to check on someone, so I told Regina and Denise to go ahead while I waited on Mike. Mike and I ended up running down, just the two of us.

This was the first time I had ever run down the mountain after the race. I've always gotten a ride, but I never enjoyed hanging out at the top waiting. And when you run down, you get to see the amazing view you missed on the way up. I also got to see people I knew who were still out there racing, so that was cool. I was worried the run down would hurt, but surprisingly it didn't. I felt good. We did remark that our run DOWN the mountain was still way slower than Joe Gray's run UP; that is just sad. Ha ha.
Me on the way down. Photo by Michael Narcisi.
Usually, I'm not hungry for the Hart's Turkey dinner, but after running down this time, I was starving. I changed clothes then headed right over to the tent, very happy to not wait in a long line and got my food. I ate with Mike Narcisi, Mike Quintal and Jim and talked to random passersby, but I was too cold under the tent, so as soon as I was done eating, I headed over to the Six03 tent where I could have a beer and be in the sun. It was a fun group: Tom Hooper, Alex Mistrushi and Scott Alan, and other non-Six03ers, like Denise and Eric Narcisi (who had gotten into the Heady Topper early). Jim, Mike Q and Scott Mason joined us, too.
And the party was on with Eric and Tom leading the way.
I found this giant beer in the cooler and had to take it. It was just too awesome.
I think Denise purposely photobombed my can shot.
This was the first time I had been able to hang out longer than an hour post-race, but thinking John was having fun with his grandparents, whom he hardly does anything with, I didn't feel bad about hanging out for a long time. Scott Mason broke out his home brew, so I was double-fisting the Crowler and Chipotle Porter. It didn't take long before I was too full to finish either beer. Ha ha. I'm weak, but it felt like my stomach was going to pop. I just couldn't do it.

I watched the awards and ended up 2nd in my age group. Woot! That's not really a big deal to me, but it's always cool in the moment. Before I knew it, it was almost 3pm and everyone was packing up. There was a final group of us hanging on, and I was happy I stayed because I ended up getting an elite invite to the Hartford Marathon. I had no intensions of running it, but now, I'm thinking it over. It's so close after the Vermont 50, though, so I think I might end up turning it down, but we'll see. Still a nice, unexpected gesture, though. 4pm started to roll around, and all that was left was Eric Narcisi and me. He had to find Mike, and I needed to go get John. I headed to my car to find it the last one left in the field. Ha ha.
One of the last to leave the Auto Rd.
I headed back into town, and as I pulled into John's grandparents' driveway, my jaw dropped. His booster seat that I had left for him to use with them was still sitting right where I left it. I came in to find John in the exact same spot I left him in over 10 hours earlier, using his computer. I was horrified. Other than feeding him and occasionally talking to him, he was just left there ALL DAY. Nothing can bring on the mom guilt more than to know that while I was at Mt Washington having a grand ole time, my son was just sitting on a couch mostly being ignored all day. And it's weird, since it wasn't like them to do that. They always have things planned to do with him, and it really isn't often. They live in Massachusetts and see him when he's with his dad when they come up to their house here, but they don't actually spend time with him alone. The last time was while I ran New Bedford. They took him out all day with his cousins, and he had a blast. I couldn't figure it out until Grammy told me that her sister had just died a few days prior, and then I realized why they weren't motivated to take John out. She was pretty beat up about it, understandably, but I still couldn't understand how life wouldn't trump death when it comes to your grandson, whom you don't see very often. So it was mixed feelings for me. I understood it, but I also couldn't help feeling awful for John. It wasn't time well spent for him, and I felt SO bad about it. So guilty. So selfish. But I just had to move on from there and make it better, so we took a walk up Heavenly Hill with the dogs when we got home and spent the rest of the evening together, with plans to have a John day on Sunday.

Sharing one more photo by Gianina Lindsey in her usual spot.
Thought I would also add the three previous years' photos by Gianina from the same spot, except 2012, which is from a different spot. All taken by Gianina, though. Two things in common with every photo. I'm wearing the same necklace and earrings all 4 races.
2014. Wow. I can see why I ran so much slower. I don't look fit at all.

2013. I had a decent race this year. I even look more fit than 2012 and 2014.

2012. First time doing the race. I remember this moment when I saw The Wall for the first time. I had no idea it existed. Huge surprise. LOL. I got those shorts at a thrift store. Nike vintage. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Bayle Mt

Monday- Wicked slow day at work, but we might as well enjoy it, because in about 2 weeks, we are going to be really busy with the vacation people with vacation brain. After the zero on Sunday and sitting ALL DAY on Monday, I was dying for a run. I had planned to run Bayle Mt for a few days, so even with the wet weather, I still decided to follow through on the run. The weather was actually perfect for running, 57 degrees with a light rain. That would have been IDEAL on Saturday for a good race at Market Square, but I digress.

I was shown Bayle Mt in October during fall foliage, so it was very beautiful, a perfect day. We came in from Gilman Valley Rd off of 25 and followed Corridor 15 to the Bayle Mt trail. This time around, I wanted to see how much of the mountain was damaged by the recent forest fire, and I wanted to come in a different way. During the fire, we had to go up there in the ambulance, so I was able to see the other way in. I could have easily driven up and run about 1.25 miles in, but I decided to park right on the corner of Pine Hill Rd and Rt 16 and run the dirt road up. It's actually a beautiful road to run on, and it's a gradual uphill for the first 4.8 miles. The road goes right along a nice brook, and I think I saw maybe 3 cars. Very quiet and peaceful. On Marble Rd, Corridor 15 (snowmobile trail) crosses, and that's where I turned off for Bayle Mt. I had never come in on this side and very quickly came to an intersection where I went straight instead of right. It actually appeared to be the most heavily used route, so I didn't think twice about taking it, but as I went on, I noticed it was looking like a new road. At first I thought maybe a new logging road, but then I noticed I was running through a burned section and this was a fire break. I had a feeling I was going the wrong way, but I kept moving forward. I began to notice that the burned section was only on my right, so it was confirmed I was on the wrong side of Bayle Mt. I had gone the wrong way at the intersection, but I knew that if the fire was on my right, then the summit was also on my right, so I decided to bushwhack up to the summit from there. It was still pretty thick with new growth and the burned trees and shrubs still standing. The burn was a lot larger than I anticipated.
Remnants of the Bayle Mt fire

Bayle Mt fire
The rain was steady and had brought out the scent of a fresh fire. The smell of smoke permeated the air. It was pretty neat running through the burn, and I quickly reached the open summit, but I had no idea where I was on the summit at first. It was cloud-covered, and I could not get my bearings. I kept running one way, then back the other. The summit had seen a good portion of the fire, too, and I didn't recognize anything. I took a few more pictures of burned trees near the summit.

I kept heading for the top of the mountain hoping I would see something I recognized. Finally I did. A flat rock slab was just below me on the right with a cairn right on the edge of it. This was also where a box with a trail register inside had been hanging on a tree. The box was no longer there and must not have made it through the fire. I was sad because I wanted to see where I signed it in October. Knowing I was finally in the right place, I stopped to take some photos. I couldn't stay long because it was actually windy and still raining; I was getting cold fast.
Summit of Bayle Mt

You can't see it, but my white shirt is covered in black soot on my left side. LOL.

This doesn't need a caption.
Happy to know where I was, I ran down the actual trail which had also been burned over. Very impressive burn. I made it back to Corridor 15 and quickly hit the trail junction where I had gone the wrong way. It wasn't far from there back to Marble Rd and a LONG downhill back to the car. I spotted a spring on my way down and stopped for a quick drink. I didn't know this one existed, so it's nice to know I have another option for filling up my water bottles.
Spring on Pine Hill Rd in Ossipee
I realized as I was running down that it was like Hollis all over again. Maybe not the wisest choice for this week, but at least it was Monday. I made it back to the car just as the rain was really picking up again. I was soaked and happy to be done. 12.8 miles 8:23/mi pace 1670 ft of elevation gain.

Tuesday- Slept in until 7:30 and decided just to stick with a road run from my house, so I did one of my typical winter runs, cut short. I ran Cranmore Shores to Pequawket to Tasker Hill. And for the first time since January, I ran to the point where I smashed my face on the ice. I laughed out loud as I turned around (slowly). Hard to believe that was 6 months ago already!!. The scars on my nose and chin are mostly gone, but I still have some scar tissue in my bottom lip where my teeth went into it. This was just an out and back so I headed back the way I came. 8.3 miles 7:07/mi pace. This was the fastest I've ever done this route, but every hill was slower than my fastest. My legs are still struggling. During the run, I decided to run tomorrow on the treadmill and then take Thursday off, in addition to Friday. I'll WALK the road at work and then take a flat hike Friday morning. I think I need more than just one day off in a row. The legs were still sore during this run.

John came home late morning, and after an appointment, I had the bright idea to hike up Mt Tom in Fryeburg. I guess I forgot that Fryeburg (along with Center Conway) is the bug capital of the MWV. As soon as I parked the car on Menotomy Rd, deer flies were covering the windows. No lie. No exaggeration. It was unreal. But, whatever, it would be fine. We got out. I leashed Spot and Phoenix, and we proceeded into our own private bug hell. It was a living nightmare. Deer flies so thick that I had handfuls of them every time I ran my hand through my ponytail. Oh, and that wasn't it. Of course not. This was Fryeburg, the town that is out to get me in one way or another. Swarms of mosquitos began to arrive. Usually it's one type of bug and not the other, but no. It was a swarm of deer flies plus a mosquito swarm. Fucking nightmare. Thinking the trail was only a half mile up, we kept going. John was running ahead of me most of the way, and I let the dogs loose to fend for themselves. At .7 miles, I realized that it wasn't 1 mile round trip, but 1 mile up, 1 mile down. I'm stubborn, though, so I wasn't giving up.
No. It isn't. It's not pretty at all. And the picture is blurry because of the damn bugs. Damn fucking bugs.

We continued to the top where there was absolutely no view. Just a cloud. "Yeah, nice. Quick. Pose for a picture, then let's get the hell out of here."
John on the summit of Mt Tom. We spent 15 seconds there.
We ran down, but I had made the mistake of only wearing Chaco sandals. Grit had accumulated under my feet making it too painful to run after awhile. I was seriously in a living nightmare. The swarms followed me. John was long gone up ahead, and I was whining like a little brat the WHOLE time. ha ha. Bad, bad idea. When we got back in the car, it was a sigh of relief. Get me the hell out of there. Damn you, Fryeburg! You win again!

Since it was Tuesday, that meant week #2 of the Summer Series trail 5K at Whitaker Woods. I forced myself not to race today. In fact, my goal was to not even get out of breath, except on the one long climb. Even then, I was going to back way off. I got there super late, due to a bit of traffic. North-South Rd is closed, so it was like 1998 all over again. Traffic going north wasn't too bad, but going south it was backed up from the 302/16 split all the way to the Muddy Moose. Insane. I had to get John to ninja class as soon as my race was finished, and after seeing that traffic going south, I came really close to turning around and skipping Whitaker. But I realized it was probably just the 5 o'clock traffic and hoped that it would have dwindled by 6, so I continued on to the Summer Series. I had a little time to chat with Darin Brown before the start. Just as we made it to the start line, hell froze over. Jim Johnson had made an appearance to do the timing while the Livingston's were at the high school awards ceremony. I don't know how Tim Livingston convinced him to come out, but he must have the magic touch. :)

The race started, and I kept my promise to myself to keep it to a jog. I ended up behind Paul Bazanchuk, Brian Johnston and Steve Piotrow. I found it wasn't too hard not to race, since no other woman was nearby or ever passed me. I wasn't competing with the men, but I still managed to pass Brian and Steve and this other guy. I just kept it easy, heart rate low, not out of breath and jogged it into the finish line in 21:38, obviously way slower than last week, but exactly what I wanted to do. Still first woman, and I wasn't even trying. The guy I had passed, but didn't know, came in right behind me going at his max. It was kind of funny. Brian and Steve came in just behind me, as well. I talked to Jim for a minute, said goodbye to Don, then bolted to get John to his ninja class.

I HAVE to get up early tomorrow to hit the treadmill before my 48 hour shift or I will go nuts from the sitting. My Wednesday 24 partner, Michelle, is also doing the 48 with me. We had to finagle a switch to get Michelle with me for the Thursday 24, but it made more sense for her to stay in North Conway with me instead of driving to Tamworth, while the other person drove to North Conway from Ossipee for the 24. Plus, it's a MUCH better partner match; Michelle and I made sure of that, but I think we're all breathing a sigh of relief. Four women. You know how that can go if things aren't done right. Ha ha. So, now that that's settled it should be a good 48 hour shift. It will make 58 hours for the week, but I'm not complaining a bit about the overtime. I'll take it.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Market Square Day 10K

I'm just going to start this off by saying what a fucking disaster this race turned out to be. Yeah, my time was "good", and my place was "good", but, no, this was not a good race for me at all. By far, my worst race since..... I don't even remember. Maybe Pack Monadnock LAST year. But I really can't pretend like I'm surprised either, because I wasn't. I knew it as lined up at the start line. I knew it during the warm up. I knew it the second I woke up. And I knew it before I ever went to bed. That I was not going into this one well.

I had run up Black Cap Friday morning, which was probably my first mistake. I probably should have zeroed, but I just didn't feel that bad after Hollis the night before. Yeah, I had some soreness in my left groin, but I didn't feel it at all on my run, or even after it. BUT, by 7pm that night, it was really bothering me. I was thinking that I had really screwed up, and here I was with a lame groin pull from running Hollis. Stupid. So I went to bed pretty nervous about the next day, just hoping that this groin thing would be gone when I woke up.

Well, I got what I wished for. Groin pain gone... completely. Never to return. I breathed a sigh of relief until I realized how bad my legs felt. Just dead. Heavy lead in my quads. As if I had just run a fast downhill race. Oh wait... But this was new. I didn't have this deadweight in my legs at all the day before, but here I was, getting ready to run my first 10K in two years, and it was difficult just walking. Oh boy. My hopes of a sub-38 10K were pretty much gone at this point, but I thought a sub-39 would be ok. No biggie. Just wanted to finish top 3.

I got John into the car, and we made the drive to Portsmouth, getting us there about about 2 hours before start time. John was going to hang out at the first water stop with some Six03 teammates, so I had to meet them at the volunteer area at 7:30am. Like me, John was tired and definitely not as perky as he usually is, but he was fine to go with these ladies to the water stop. I had grabbed him a cinnamon roll at one of the bakeries, so he seemed content to have something sweet to eat. We parted ways, and I found the bib pickup area. I immediately saw Erica Jesseman and knew who the female winner would be. I knew she was going to be there, so it wasn't a surprise to me. Didn't bother me either since I knew this was not going to be a good race for me (Have I mentioned this yet?). It's not like I mentally psyched myself out and caused this disaster of a race. I was just facing reality and accepting it. My legs were trashed. It was a fact. I was going to struggle out there.

I dropped my bag at my car and went for a warm up. I stopped at the first water stop to check in on John who was lying on the sidewalk.
John never left the sidewalk. He stayed put right where he was the entire race, only sitting up to wave to me as I went by during mile 2. Photo by Sharon Morrison
I talked to my Six03 teammates for a bit then said goodbye and continued on. I wanted to check out the third mile of the course. I ended up making a much longer loop and running a little farther than planned for 2.8 miles. By the time I got back to my car, I was sweating buckets, and it was all of a sudden HOT out there. I wasn't expecting this. Temps were supposed to be in the 60s when I last checked, but it had to be in the 80s by this point. Although Hollis was hotter, I was starting to get worried that the heat combined with the heavy legs could spell disaster. Well guess what? Heat and heavy legs DO ACTUALLY SPELL DISASTER! Who knew? :)

I went up to the starting area, and quickly jumped in the Six03 team pic, then immediately stepped out in search of a place to use the bathroom last minute.
Six03. I'm on the very end in the shade. White hat. 
I still refused to stand in a porta potty line and lucked out with no line at all behind a bush at Citizens Bank. ha ha. I came back and lined up at the start. I spoke with Andy Schachat for a minute before he moved over to Erica Jesseman, who looked over at me while talking to him. He would tell me later that she told him she was worried about me! Ha ha ha ha!!! Very flattered, but ha ha, she had nothing to worry about, and he told her that. I still think it's funny that I intimidated Erica Jesseman. I'm dying laughing as I write this. Ha ha ha. I knew she had the race in the bag, so I set my sights on the other women lining up near the start line. One, I was pretty certain was Carly Dion (and it was). I didn't think I could beat her, so who else? A really young girl in a Gate City Striders singlet, whom I'd never seen. Maybe. Ashley Busa, who lined up almost right in front of me. She had the fast "look" down pretty well, and she is actually really fast, but I was also thinking I could beat her. Not certain, since I felt like I was doomed already, but I would give it a shot and hope for 3rd woman. Darin Brown lined up next to me and said he was shooting for a 37:30; I knew that was out of the question for me today, but I figured I would attempt to stay with him for as long as possible.
Start of the race. I'm bib 920. Photo by Ryan O'Leary.
Andy gave the countdown, and before we knew it, the race had started, and I nearly ran down this cute little kid who had lined up right on the start line. I always get nervous about little kids lining up in front of me, because I've nearly run them down many times. And sure enough, he hesitated at the start and I pretty much ran into him so that I had to grab his shoulders to keep him from going down. I let go really quickly, and he was able to go from there fine, but I went around him first. And just as suspected, my quads were on fire. Like searing. I knew I had been right about this race. This was going to be a huge struggle right from the get-go. Erica, Carly and Ashley were already way ahead of me, and the last thing I wanted to do was pick up the pace, but I felt that I had to for whatever stupid reason. My legs were killing me, but I picked up speed and passed Ashley. I put myself right into the third woman spot, pretty sure I was going to get passed before the first mile. I knew I was going too fast and couldn't sustain this pace on these legs, but I just kept going. Darin caught up with me right before the first mile, which I hit in 5:46. Omg. Yeah, I knew I had to slow it down. This was not a 5K, but I still managed to run what would have been a 5K PR. Very stupid. And my splits were just horrible 6:10, 6:21 for miles 2 & 3. By mile 2, I was DYING in the heat. I didn't even realize it was so hot until it just hit me. I wanted it to end by mile 3. I was sucking wind, and this was an EASY course. It should have been fast. I shouldn't have been dying, but I was. I kept looking back, though, and there was no other woman in sight. I thought for sure someone would be on my tail getting ready to pass me. I was running like shit. But maybe everyone else was, too. Huh. I could still see Carly Dion, who had a good lead on me, but based on what I was running, I had a feeling her race was not going as planned either. By mile 4, I felt more done than I did at mile 24 at VCM. I wanted to drop. I've never really wanted to drop from a race until this one. I wanted to stop. My legs hurt; I was so hot. I wanted it to be over right then and there. It was so difficult to keep moving on. This was only 6.2 miles. I couldn't believe I was struggling as badly as I was. I mean. I knew this was going to be bad, but I had no idea how bad. But I managed to hang in there. I was still hitting awful splits 6:33, 6:25, 6:32 for miles 4-6, but at least they were somewhat consistent. I couldn't believe no other woman was even in view. How could someone not be passing me right now? I was baffled. I looked at my watch as I passed the 6 mile point in 38:02. Wow. I was actually going to struggle just to break 40. But at this point, I knew I still had 3rd woman set, and that I would break 40, so I stopped worrying and just finished the damn thing in 39:29. I was relieved for it to be over.

I grabbed a water as soon as I finished. I was hurting so I just had to keep walking. No stopping. I saw Darin ahead of me and caught up to him before we stopped to chat for a bit. He had a pretty good race, not far off his goal time. That was good to hear, since he's coming off of an injury over the winter. We did a short cool down together trying to find John, but we had no luck. I went back to my car, grabbed my backpack and then Darin and I walked to the finish line. I was able to catch up with John there. He still seemed tired, but in good spirits. I thanked Lisa, who had taken him under her wing for the morning. Such a great help and so kind. John and I hung out for the awards with Diane Levesque and her husband, Brian, who is on the mend after a lengthy illness.  It was great to see them both, and Brian looks great. I won a medal and $100. For such a bad race, I was psyched to still win $100.

After the awards, John and I ventured over to Harpoon Willy's for the Six03 after party. It was super crowded back there, but a beer was placed in my hand by Melissa Garfield, so I couldn't sneak out just yet. Poor John, though, he was stuck in a crowd of people, so we went inside where he could sit, and I could drink my beer. I didn't really mind being alone in there since it was so crowded out on the deck. I figured I would finish my beer then go get John some food up in the Square from one of the vendors at Market Square Day. Just as we were attempting to sneak away, Tom Hooper spotted us and another beer was placed in my hand and an order for a hamburger and fries had been placed for John. Ha ha. Tom won that round. :) Andy Schachat was there, so we talked for awhile. I didn't really know many other people in the Six03 crowd so it was nice to chat with him. Tracy Burton came over eventually and we hit it off right away. My new favorite chick. :) The crowd had thinned a bit so it made it nicer to be outside on the deck. Next thing I knew, Tom was handing Tracy and me tequila shots. I had to draw the line there. Ha ha. I had had no food and a kid to drive home. I would love to stay and party hard, but sometimes, I just can't. We still had a good time. I finished off John's burger and then we left for the Square. I had to stop at Popovers, at Darin's recommendation, for a creme puff and popover. It did not disappoint.  We walked through the Square from there and then made our way back to the car.
John walking through Market Square. He got some new volcano shirts. I don't know why, but these are his favorite shirts.
I drove home with John sleeping most of the way. We spent a little time at home before going to Conway Lake for an hour. It was nice to hang by the lake and let John swim. He really needed it after the morning in Portsmouth.

Sunday was a day to sleep in. I had planned a zero, but I needed to take care of the dogs, so I decided just to run them up Heavenly Hill once. It's only 1.3 miles round trip, and I ran slowly. Once they were taken care of, it was time to go to Storyland for the first time this year. John had a great time, and it wasn't crowded. We rode the Roar-o-saurus  6 times in a row, making different poses for the camera each time. Two separate people bought photos of themselves that had us in them making faces. Ha ha. They both thought it was funny. Really good day there with him. We really needed a John day, and as much as I would have loved to be at the Ascutney Mountain Race, I was very content to skip it. I'll be at every other Mountain Series race, so I can still count for the series and mountain goat status, but on this day, Ascutney had to take the back seat.

On the Turtle Twirl, a ride that makes me sick every time.

Waiting for the train and finally caught on camera
We picked up the dogs once we got back home and took them to the Albany Town Forest for some exercise and a swim in the Swift River. John spent some time in the water, as well. He loves to swim.
John throwing rocks in the Swift River

John and all 3 dogs

I was having a Narragansett Summer Shandy. :)
Overall, it was a good weekend. As much as my race sucked for me personally, I can't really complain. And it was kind of expected by more people than just me. I've been pushing myself to my limits, so I was bound to have a bad race, especially at a distance I rarely ever race. I want to be ready for Mt Washington this week, so I'm planning longer runs for Mon, Tue and Wed. I work a 48 hour shift Wed and Thurs, but i'm going to try to get in something decent on our street at work on Thursday. Then, as much as it KILLS me to take a Friday off, since it's the one day a week I have the most time to run, I will probably take it off. I'll plan an easy hike of some kind instead. I want to be ready and rested for Mt Washington. I really, really, really want to do well there this year. Uphill-only is NOT my strength, but still, I want to do well. I can't go into it with sore tired legs, so here's hoping for a good week!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Hollis Fast 5K

The theme for tired, sore legs continued, but I attempted to rest them after Pack Monadnock. Monday was kind of a forced rest day since I had to go right from the ambulance in Tamworth up to Bartlett-Jackson Ambulance for an overnight on-call shift and to do the billing, so unless I got up to run on the treadmill, a run wasn't happening. I couldn't drag myself out of bed early enough, so it was a zero. We were fairly busy at work, which made the day fly by. My partner and I got a kick out of this call we were on for a fire at the Fish Hatchery in Ossipee. Look at the sign by the road.
Smoked Trout. LOL.
Once I got to Bartlett, I grabbed a radio and then hit Thorne Pond for a walk. Gloomy day, but this place is always pretty. Roger Marcoux came by to bring me some homemade bread and chat. Roger liked my pink EMT shirt and snapped a few photos. Then I headed back to the station to do the billing... for 3 hours! Fortunately, there were no calls, and I got a full night's sleep.
Thorne Pond

Tuesday morning, I went right from Bartlett to Cathedral Ledge Rd for a run. I ran part of the Kismet Cliff Run course up and over Cathedral and Whitehorse Ledges then made a loop through the Mineral Site via the Red Ridge Link, Red Ridge, Tent Boulder, Mineral Site and Lower and Upper Stony Ridge Trails back to the trail around Whitehorse and back to my car. I was thinking the run would be about 8 miles, but it ended up being 10.3. Over 2200 ft of elevation gain in just under 2 hours. I love doing loops, so this was perfect, and, as usual, I was all alone out there. I live in the best place for finding seclusion on the trails... if you know where/when to go.

On my way home from the run, I stopped at Coleman's Rental to pick up a lawn mower that I had reserved for the day. I only own a non-motorized push mower. My yard is huge and had turned into a field, so there was no way my mower was going to work. So for $35, I rented a decent Husqvarna power mower, but as soon as I got home, it started to rain. John came home, and I decided to just let him hangout inside while I cut the grass. As soon as I started, the rain got harder, and I ended up mowing the whole lawn in the absolute pouring rain for 2.5 hours. I was soaked, but I had to finish up the job that day or else I'd be paying another $35. No way was that happening, so I just finished it.

By the time I was done mowing the lawn, I was spent. I laid down on the couch and could not get up for an hour or more. But as 4:30 rolled around, I realized run #2 was coming up, so John and I got in the car and headed to Whitaker Woods for the first race of the Tuesday night Summer Series Trail 5K. It was still pouring rain, but the crowd was decent. A few regulars were missing, but then there were others I hadn't seen in awhile, so I caught up a bit before the start. Since this is always run #2 for the day, I don't usually go out at race pace for these anymore; more like a tempo run, but with the cool, pouring rain, I decided to take advantage and race it. Despite the still sore, tired legs (and just tired self), I ran a good clip, running my fastest time on the course ever, with this being my 5th season out there. 20:01. STILL can't break 20 on that course. I probably could if I ever raced it on fresh legs, but that's not likely to happen anytime soon. Right after I finished, I had to go right to the car and bolt to get John to his ninja class on time. I was so done. I had to sit down for most of the class.

Wednesday, I took another zero day. Tuesday obliterated me, so I had no qualms about taking another day off. I have been terrible about letting myself recover the last 3 weeks, so it was needed. I don't care what other people do or say. I'm walking the fine line between health and injury, so I don't want to fuck it up. I'm still struggling with this since I just want to do everything, but I'm making a weak effort.

It was another quiet day at work. Only one 911 during the day. We had a 3rd rider with us whom I basically supervised since he's almost ready to be turned loose. So I didn't have to do much or even write the report (not complaining about that at all!!). At 8pm, a transfer to Maine Med came in, and we needed a third person for potential intubation en route, so it was Jen, Michelle and me. The 3 of us are a little crazy, and we had heads turning at MMC. Our security escort loved us. and we were in fits of laughter the entire time (after dropping our patient off). I decided to jump in a disgusting bin of used EMS equipment for some photos. Fortunately, I was mostly laying on plastic bags.
In the dirty laundry bin at Maine Med
We had so much fun in our crew of three; that's not a common thing, so we took advantage of it. Once back at the base, we didn't have any other calls or transfers, and I got the most sleep I've had on a Wednesday in the last 2.5 months. 4.5 hours!! Woot. Ok, yeah, that's not enough sleep, but it was better than the usual.

Once I was home on Thursday morning, I took my time heading back out for an easy trail run up B&M Ledge and out and back to the Madison Boulder for 6.2 miles. I had the Hollis Fast 5K that night, so I didn't want to do anything crazy.
B&M Ledge
I got home, had breakfast and then just as I was getting ready to go kayaking, a strange car pulled right into my driveway and parked next to my car. I got a bad vibe immediately. It was a couple, and the guy got out and came up to the door. The woman got out and stood by their car. I knew something fishy was going on, and the kid made up some story about a woman calling him about mowing her yard and asked if it was me. Meanwhile, I'm looking at their Toyota Corolla which has no mower in it. I wasn't nice. I told him it wasn't me. He said three other people in the neighborhood needed mowing, too, and asked if I knew who they were. I said, "No." He turns to the girl and says, "Wrong house." Then they left. They both seemed nervous and shady. She ran over my grass on the way out and stalled out. Gave me plenty of time to get the plate number and call the police. They were probably casing my house and didn't expect to see someone home on a Thursday morning. It really pissed me off since I live alone and haven't had any issues like this. Now, I have to worry about it and sleep with a loaded gun. An officer came out and took a statement and a BOLO went out for them. They knew who they were, and the officer told me they had already had an issue with the woman earlier that morning. He didn't tell me what, but my suspicions were confirmed that they were up to no good. They did find them, and last I heard, they were going to be charged with trespassing.

So this took up at least an hour of my time and cut into my kayaking trip big time. I rushed down to Chocorua Lake for a quick paddle around the lake. It was just what I needed to calm down after dealing with that couple coming to my house. Something about being out on the water just soothes the soul. It was shorter than I liked, but it still felt great.

I rushed home, hopped in the shower and then hit the road for the long drive to Hollis for the 4th USATF-NE Grand Prix race, the Hollis Fast 5K. This was my first time running this one, and I wouldn't have done it if it hadn't been a Grand Prix race. I'm not much of a 5Ker, so I wasn't expecting to be competitive at this one and just thought it would be fun to come out and try and help out the team. It was nice seeing a lot of people I knew, but there were so many people there that I didn't even get a chance to talk to everyone. I didn't know some people were even there until I saw them after the finish.

As soon as I got my bib, I got my stuff together and jumped on a shuttle bus for the drive to the starting line 3.5 miles away. The start was at a school in the middle of big fields and surrounded by woods. It was actually very pretty. I went right out for a warm up run, running 2.7 miles. I ran half solo, then ran into some CMS teammates and ran the other half with them. I hit the bathroom (woods; why stand in a porta potty line when there are woods everywhere?) then lined up in the starting shoot. I wasn't sure I belonged in the "fast" shoot, but it was for sub-19, and I knew I would be sub-19 for sure, so I hopped in. I found Jenn Brooks, Sarah Bard and Amanda Wright. We chatted a bit about the race. I had no idea how to run this one. Not a clue. I was worried I would go out too fast and tank, but then I was also worried about going out too slow and then feeling disappointed. At the starting gun, I just decided to pick someone close to my pace and follow them. That turned out to be Amy Benard. It was reminiscent of New Bedford when Amy pulled me along to mile 5ish. She went out fast, and I struggled to keep up with her, but I just kept at it. I laughed to myself at the mile 1 clock. "This IS a fast race." It was a strange race, too. I was going really fast for the first two miles, but I wasn't really out of breath. As soon as we hit the 2 mile mark, I started to get out of breath, but I kept trucking along. I was passing quite a few women at this point, but I had no idea where I was in place. I had a goal time in mind: the female 39 year old course record. I wanted to beat it. It was 17:33. I knew it was going to be close, so I just hammered it in, crossing the finish line in 17:28 on the clock. I ended up with a net time of 17:27. I found out 2 hours later that I was 12th woman. Whoa! I did not expect that at all. In that field, I thought I'd be lucky to be top 30, so that was a nice surprise, especially for someone who doesn't train for 5Ks. (I was psyched for days to have broken my age record until I found out today that Marin Brown of Madison, NH who held the record for 9 years is actually Darin Brown of Madison, NH. LOL. I thought maybe he had a sister named, Marin, so I asked him about it and was set straight. Now, I feel stupid that I didn't figure that out on my own. Blonde, I tell you! Ha ha.)

The only pic I can find of myself from the race. Can you figure out which one I am? LOL,

I talked to a few people at the finish, like Jeff Walker and Phil Erwin, then joined Jenn Brooks and Heather Rich for a nice 2.7 mile cool down, mostly along the bike path. When we got back, I grabbed some snacks, said goodbye and left for home. I was starving and just wanted a burger and fries, so I stopped at Five Guys in Concord. Just as I was leaving, Sam and Abby Wood, were behind me in the parking lot. Apparently, they had the same idea for dinner. I chatted with them for a bit, then drove home. As I got out of the car, I knew that I was going to be struggling. I could feel that race in the legs already. It was a fun race to do, but it also just seemed like a dangerous one, with the potential for injury. Overstriding at that speed scared me a little, and I woke up Friday morning with some soreness in my left groin. It was subtle, but definitely there. I was going to be pissed if I had injured myself at Hollis.

But as any runner in denial would do, I decided I needed to go for a run. :) I kept it off the road and decided on a Black Cap run via the Red Tail Trail. It was a gorgeous morning, and I just took it easy on the way up. Took Kettle Ridge on the way down for 7 miles total 1635 ft of elevation gain. I ran some errands on the way home, then pretty much took the rest of the day easy in order to be ready for Market Square Day 10K the next morning.... and that will be my next blog post. :)

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Pack Monadnock 10 Mile Race

After a pretty rough week putting in decent runs and miles on super sore legs, I was not feeling very good about how my race was going to go. I took Wednesday off and then decided on another zero for Saturday. My definition of a "zero" might need to be reexamined, since I decided to take John on a hike up Mt. Pierce via the Crawford Path. It's only around 6.4 miles round trip, but it was 5.5 hours on my feet, so I was even more beat by the end of the day. It didn't matter to me, though. Saturday was an absolutely PERFECT day to take a hike, and I wasn't missing an opportunity to take John up his first Presidential (on his own two feet. I took him into the Presidentials in 2007 in a pack on my back.)
3-day Presidential hike August 2007. Just John and me.
John has been doing a lot of hiking lately and seems to be enjoying it more and more. He and his dad hiked up Mt. Chocorua on Wednesday, so I knew Mt Pierce would be a breeze for him. Although he likes to stop a lot, when he is moving, he's pretty much running, up and down, and he just seemed to really love this hike.
Running up the trail with "weapon" in hand

I chose Mt Pierce because it has always been one of my favorite mountains. It was also where I first saw a Gray Jay and had it land on my hand in 1998, and that was one of my hopes for John on our hike. Unfortunately, it was a bit a breezy at the summit, so that didn't happen this time around, but he didn't seem to mind. The summits had all been covered with clouds when we started, but at the top, we were greeted with cloudless summits and views.
John on Mt Pierce

Walking to the summit on Mt Pierce

I swear I'm not pregnant, and I don't have a beer gut. Shirt underneath is bunched up. LOL
We decided to loop down via the Mizpah Hut, but since it was getting so late, we didn't stop. It's probably one of my least favorite huts anyway. John was getting tired on the way down, but he refused to stop running. Run, sit, run, sit, run, sit.... ha ha. At one point, he ran to a boulder in the trail, sat down, looked up at the treetops and said, "It's so nice up here." Big moment for me to hear that. He's really come to appreciate where he lives, and I love to see it. We made it down around 6pm. I was exhausted, and the thought of Pack Monadnock Race the next morning made me cringe.

I was in bed by 10pm, but due to the long drive, I had to be up at 4am. When my alarm went off I was so confused. I didn't know why. Then I remembered I had a 10-mile race to run. As I got up, I noticed that I was even more sore than the previous day. Every single muscle in my legs was sore. Bad sign, but I had kind of gotten over it and resolved to just let the cards fall where they may and move on. I did not enjoy Pack at all in 2014. One of only 2 races that I've ever used the word "hate" in reference to it (the other is Muddy Moose). I really would have preferred to do Ascutney to see if I could improve on my time, but I still think 3 races in 4 days is too much. So it was Pack or no Mountain Series. I was going just to have a race to count. I was very fortunate to have a Six03 teammate's wife, Melissa Garfield, offer to have John hang out with her during the race. It amazes me when people do that. Take on someone else's kid?! But I assured her that he was easy and would just go with the flow, which is true. He is such a laid back kid and hardly ever complains. We met up with Melissa and Matt Garfield and Tom Hooper at the finish parking area and then they drove us to the start. Tom gave John a GoPro to shoot video with, and John seemed very content with Melissa, so after grabbing my bib, I took a short .8 warmup. I was SORE and STIFF and TIRED. But to be honest, I have run well through all of that before, so I just decided to suck it up and run through it. I came back to the car, ditched my things, said bye to John and then hit another warmup for a mile.

I talked some of the regular mountain people like Karen and Jackie, and some new mountain people, Sarah Bard and Denise at the Start. I knew Denise would have this race in the bag, so I didn't even focus on trying to beat her or stay with her. I had no idea how Sarah would do, but I figured she would easily beat me on the "road race" part. The race started, and I just decided to go out at a quick, but easy, pace. I could feel the soreness in every part of my legs immediately, but I was surprised at how easy the pace felt. Sarah started out a few paces ahead of me, and we quickly chicked Tom Hooper. :) Sarah was running a good pace, so I just hung a few steps behind her for the first 1.5 miles. Just before mile 2, I moved past her. I assumed she would catch me in a few miles; she never did, but I could always see her not too far behind me when I would catch a glimpse back. I just kept up a pretty even pace and thought about how much I had hated this race the previous year, when by mile 3, I was struggling. This year seemed so much easier. The temperature was cooler, so I'm sure that made a difference. The miles ticked off with ease, and I could only think it was because I was in much better shape than 2014 by a long shot. I think I even used the, "I'm only 3 weeks off the Boston Marathon" excuse last year, but I was only 2 weeks off VCM this year, so my 2014 excuse became invalid. LOL. I found myself actually enjoying Pack this year. Around mile 5, I caught up to EJ Hrynowski and Bruce Christensen. I ran the next 2.5 miles with them just chatting the whole way, which is not something I normally do. Even though I was able to talk, I still felt like they were pulling me along at a decent pace. The conversation was pretty interesting and definitely helped pass the time. At one point, I looked ahead and saw John and Melissa. I was so excited to see him and pointed him out to EJ and Bruce. I love seeing my kid during a race; it makes me so happy to see him out there. And he seemed so happy to see me. By mile 8, we were climbing up Rt 101, but I didn't feel the pain of 2014. It was a breeze, even with the dead legs. At the top of the hill, I saw Eric Narcisi videoing us. He said that I looked fresh. I certainly didn't feel it, but I felt ok. LOL. I had caught a glimpse of Sarah behind me, but I felt she was far enough back that I didn't have to worry about her catching me. My legs were shot by the start of the climb up Pack Monadnock. I feel like this would normally have been my strongest part of the race, but not today. It was a grind. I finally felt the soreness slowing me down. I wasn't worried, though. I knew Sarah was too far back to catch me and that I was going to kill my 2014 time easily. On the way up, I saw John and Melissa again. I was so out of breath that I couldn't say much, but I waved. Before I knew it, I was seeing the fence on the left side of the Auto Rd which meant I was near the top. I reached the right turn and came through the finish. What a relief to be done. 1:17:39 (The exact same time that Christin Doneski had run it in last year, which I thought was kind of cool.) 2nd woman behind Denise Sandahl, who had killed it in 1:13:59. Smoking time. I was happy for her to have the win, after she had a disappointing race at VCM two weeks prior. She deserved a good win, and she got it. Sarah finished 30 seconds behind me, which was a little too close for comfort for me, but I wasn't worried about it. I was super happy with my race, since I didn't expect to finish in the top 5. Plus, I shaved off 7min20sec off my 2014 time, so I was psyched. I'll take it.

I decided to walk down the road until I caught up with John and Melissa. Matt was already with them, and we decided to continue back to the summit. Tom joined us, as well. At the summit, John and I walked up the fire tower. We were surprised to see the Boston skyline off in the distance. Very cool. Back down in the parking lot, we waited for the rest of the Six03 group to finish, then took a group shot.
Six03 teammates at Pack. John is showing off his Six03 tat. Very cute.
The walk down after hurt a lot. My legs were so sore and just DONE. Back at the parking lot, I grabbed my maple syrup award and some chips then said goodbye to Tom, Melissa and Matt. Melissa said John WAS really easy and offered to watch him again if it worked out at another race. I really, really appreciated her doing that for me. It meant a lot. And I was so glad she enjoyed hanging out with him. We headed out, some of the last to leave, which was so different than 2014 when I was one of the first to leave, having to get home quickly, as usual. I love being able to hang out after races now. Life is so much better.

We stopped at my favorite burrito shop, Boloco Burrito, in Concord. I was SO hungry, but John just slept almost the entire ride home. Once we got home, he went over to a friend's house for hours. I took the dogs up Heavenly Hill for a walk.
Chill trying to catch a deer fly that kept landing on his back.

Me with Phoenix. Spot was off doing her own thing.
The day I dreaded turned out to be a good one. I no longer "hated" Pack. I ran well, even though I thought I wouldn't, and John had a great day. No complaints. Another awesome weekend in the books.