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.