Friday, June 5, 2015

Great Glen, Auto Rd, Mt Shaw

The blog title sounds like a lot, but all 3 of those runs were done over a span of 15 hours, Thursday night and Friday morning. This week's 34 hour shift was brutal, and not because we were busy, but because we were SO slow. Well, of course not overnight on Wednesday. Ha ha. Without fail. Barely 3 hours of sleep. Two calls all of Wednesday day and not one call on Thursday. Sometimes, it's nice not to be busy, but most of the time it just makes the days drag. So by 4pm, hour 33, on Thursday, I was going stir crazy. Right at 5pm, I was out of there. I went home, changed into running clothes and drove up to Great Glen Trails.

I was planning just to run part-way up the Mount Washington Auto Rd, but then I remembered that it was Thursday. Great Glen Trails puts on a Spring (and Fall) Trail Running Series every Thursday thru June. I used to do these series and won for the women a couple of times, but since last Fall, I just couldn't fit it in my schedule. I love doing these timed "races", and I've gotten to know most of the people up at Great Glen. So I figured I would jump in Thursday's event before hitting the Auto Rd. I've missed seeing everyone and running these, so it was nice to be back, if only just for one time this Spring.  They used a photo of John and me from last Spring for their web page.
John and me in last Spring's series on the event website. I used to run the long course first, then run the mini course with John. And we followed that with a stop at the Shannon Door to pick us up the best pizza in the Valley. My old life.
I was so ready to get running, so much so that I looked like a spaz in front of Eli, Meg Skidmore and a spectator. They probably thought I was on speed or something. LOL. I decided to do my usual and go all out, 100% effort. It's only about 3.5 miles (my watch always loses the GPS signal back there, so my mileage is less every time), but it has a lot of little ups and downs with a mix of single track and carriage roads. Eli makes the course different every Series, so you will never run the same course. This year even had a section I never knew existed, so that was cool. The rest of it was part of the old courses mixed up. Whatever he chooses, it's always fun and fast. I started alone and went out fast, immediately passing the two women who started a minute before me. I was alone on the course for awhile until I passed one other guy. I felt really fast and realized that I am a lot faster than I was a year ago. Just before the tunnel to the finish, this guy came up behind me and quickly passed me. Totally took me by surprise since I had no idea he was there. He must have started a minute behind me because his time was just over a minute faster than mine. I finished in 24:15, first woman for the day, and I snagged this season's women's course record (so far!) by 4.5 minutes. LOL.

As soon as I finished, I caught my breath, changed shoes, grabbed my running pack, then made a beeline for the Auto Rd. This time I was racing nightfall, but I knew I had 1:20 until sunset, so I wasn't really worried about it. My plan was only to run to 4000ft before turning around. I liked the idea of hitting the Auto Rd on somewhat fatigued legs and just taking it easy. Temps were probably in the upper 50s by this point, which would be my dream on race day. So, just for writing that, we will all be punished with 80+ degrees below treeline. Sorry about that, everyone. With cooler temps and an easy pace (definitely not race pace), the road didn't seem that steep. Go figure. ;) When race day comes, I'm sure it will be hot; I'll start off too fast and then for the 4th year in a row be baffled at how bad my time is. That's actually a trend I'm really hoping to break this time around, though.

Not thinking, I started my watch up by the Great Glen lodge, so it wasn't quite exact with the road race, but not too far off. Mile 1 10:45/mi, Mile 2 12:08/mi, Mile 3 12:40/mi, Mile 4 12:30/mi. 4000 ft is just a little past the 4 mile mark. According to Strava, it was my second best time to 4000ft in 47:38. Last year's race was my best time in 46:46. That was VERY nice to see (except for the fact that I ran 3 minutes slower last year than the previous year. Why can't I get this race figured out for once?!!!) Less than a minute slower than last year's race, and I felt like I was only going with about 70% effort. This year's race should definitely be under 1:30. If it isn't, I will be pouting the whole run down the Auto Rd, so don't dare run with me, or you might have to hear my bitch session.
The run was so beautiful. I saw no one else. And the sun was starting to set. Just beautiful. The pace I was running felt so easy, too, so I'm actually getting excited to see how I do in this year's race. I can't imagine not having a PR with the way I've been racing since last September. I was surprised at how easy 4000ft came. Granted, it was an easy pace and cool temps, but still, it was a confidence booster. I took a few pics. Of course I didn't take any selfies. Ok. That's a lie. And can I just say that I'm really offended that I didn't make it into this video?

I took it really easy on the way down. It was easy to run down a minute faster per mile on snowshoes, but with it just being pavement, it hurts too much to go fast. The new paving is nice, though. Definitely a big difference when you hit it; the road just before it is pretty rough. I didn't carry any water with me (since I knew there would be plenty) and stopped at one of the piped springs for a drink on the way down. I hit the bottom just before sunset and waved to Eli as he was picking up the Trail Series course markings. I headed for home. I was so beat. It was definitely a struggle to keep my eyes open. A friend messaged me to meet them at Sea Dog on the way home, but I just couldn't do it. I was gross and SO tired. I had dinner around 10pm and then went right to sleep.

Fortunately, I was able to catch up on sleep and got up at 8am. It was so needed. I made some coffee, got dressed then headed for Castle in the Clouds, one of my new favorite places to run. I decided to bring along my dog, Spot, since John's dad has been leaving her alone at my house a lot lately while I'm at work. She's used to having companions, and I couldn't bare to leave her behind all alone any longer. She's gotten slower since she's now 11.5, but she keeps up ok.

I won a pair of Salomon shoes at Sleepy Hollow that had just arrived, so I decided to give them a test run. They felt great as soon as I put them on, but the color is a bit much. Shoe companies really need to tone down the hot pink on women's shoes. Not all of us are into the flashy, match-my-outfit colors, but I really can't complain since I got them for free. I did attempt to muddy them up, but by the end of the run, they were still hot pink.

I had planned to do a loop starting with Mt Roberts, but as I was looking on the map at the trailhead, I changed my mind and decided to do a Mt. Shaw loop. I decided on the longer (8+ miles), gentler climb up to Mt Shaw, as opposed to the shorter, steeper climb by taking the Turtleback Mt Trail up. The weather was perfect (again!), so this was a really easy run. My legs were feeling the previous night's run for the first 2 miles or so, but the climb was so gentle that I finally eased into it. The plan was to hit Turtleback Mt and Black Snout summits along the way, but once I headed up there, I realized I didn't really have the time to add on the two extra miles. So I bypassed both summit trails. We finally made it up to Mt Shaw which has some great views.
View from Mt Shaw

Spot taking a break on the summit

Are those shoes bright enough?
From the summit, I could see Bayle Mt, which is where we had a 3 day long forest fire recently. Nice to see the summit wasn't burned. It's such a beautiful spot, and I'm planning to run up there again soon. The Ossipee Mountains are so beautiful. I can't believe I'm only just now checking them out.
Me on Bayle Mt last October
Spot was ready for some water and good swim, so I was psyched to run into a nice pond about a mile down the High Ridge Trail.
Spot taking a swim
Spot slowed on the way down, but I just kept running and then stopped periodically to wait on her. She was able to be off-leash the whole time since we didn't run into any other people, and it's better for her to be able to go her own pace anyway. We continued on the High Ridge Trail to the Oak Ridge Trail, which was steep and wet. I opted to get off of this one and hit the Upper and Lower Bridle Paths for the way back to Shannon Pond. I think I recognized this stretch from the Snowshoe Championship race back in March, but I could be wrong.
View of Lake Winnipesaukee from the Upper Bridle Path
Spot took one last dip in Shannon Pond, and then we ran down the Shannon Pond Trail back to the car. 13.7 miles in just over 2:10. 2,516 ft of elevation gain. Really great run overall. So happy to back out at Castle in the Clouds. I haved loved this place ever since running there for the first time last summer. There's just something so peaceful about it.

As far as the new shoes (Salomon Speedcross 3s) go... well, I don't love them. They remind of the first La Sportiva running shoes that I kept winning, wearing a few times and then throwing into a box. They are really comfortable, but the sole is way too narrow, just like the first La Sportiva models. Not the toebox, but the sole. A broken or sprained ankle waiting to happen. It has huge lugs on the bottom, but they provided little grip. I might as well have been in treadless shoes. Once La Sportiva widened the sole with their newer models, they have been the best trail/mountain shoe I've ever worn. I won't write off the Salomon shoes just yet. I'll keep training in them, but I won't be racing in them anytime soon.

Saturday will be another zero day, even though John and I are planning a good hike. I've been pushing through tired, sore legs all week, so I want to give them another day off before Pack Monadnock. I was very fortunate to have someone offer to hangout with John during the race, so it looks like I'm racing. I won't be competitive in this one, due to the competition already signed up, but I'll do my best this time around. I hated it last year so much that I probably gave up by the 3rd mile. The weather looks much cooler than last year, too, so I'm really happy about that. If I do have a horrible race, I'll probably end up at Ascutney next week, but I really hope I don't have to do that. I love Ascutney, but 3 races in 4 days is a bit much. With Mount Washington the following weekend, I want to be rested and ready.

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