Doyle's Emerald Necklace

Doyle's Emerald Necklace

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. 

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