Friday, July 31, 2015

Mt Carrigain

As usual, Wednesday night meant little sleep. We were called for a Boston transfer a little after 9pm and didn't get on the road until close to 11pm. Even going with lights on the way down, the trip was still long, getting us back at 4am. I drove there and back. It was an absolute struggle on the way back. I ended up putting an earbud in one ear with music blasting to keep me awake. It barely worked. I was out cold by 4:30am and lucked out with no 911s, so I was lucky to get 2 hours of sleep. Waking up at 6:30am was tough, and I started to doubt the run I had planned. I wasn't doing my usual 10 hour Tamworth shift this Thursday, so I had planned a decent mountain run up Mt Carrigain with a loop back via Carrigain Notch. I was thinking I'd be too tired for this one, but I kept it in my plan for the day. I stopped at Conway Fire on my way home to drop off my application and ended up shooting the shit with Sol and Matt for about half an hour. By the time I got home, I just wanted to lie down and go to sleep. I didn't do it, though. I got dressed and forced myself out the door and drove to Crawford Notch.

Maybe the coffee kicked in or something, but by the time I got up there, I was wide awake and ready to go. I drove up Sawyer River Road and parked at the Signal Ridge Trail lot. There were a few cars in the lot already, so I was a little bummed. I'm selfish and like to have summits to myself. :) But whatever. I started up the trail which was fairly flat for the first 2 miles until I turned off on the Desolation Trail. From here, the trail got steep. It would level off occasionally, but for the most part it was a long, steep climb. The weather was extremely hot and humid already, and I was drenched in sweat. I had to stop around mile 4 to drink some water, which is not something I usually have to do. I had hydrated well that morning, but the humidity was quickly draining me of fluids, and I found myself parched. I probably stopped for 2-3 minutes. About 4.5 miles in, the trail came out on an open Ridge where I could see the summit of Carrigain.
View of Mt Carrigain summit
 The ridge run was cool, but short, and soon I was back in the trees. I ran into a hiker from Gorham coming down from the summit and stopped to chat with him for a minute. He called himself "just a hiker" compared to my running. I told him that I'm also a hiker and that I love both. :) It was just a short distance to the summit from there. What a relief. A very cool breeze was blowing, and I had the summit to myself.
Summit of Mt Carrigain.

Look back at the trail along the ridge
I stayed up there for about 10 minutes, but I was actually getting chilly from the wind on my sweaty clothes, and I still had 8 miles to go. I continued on the Desolation Trail down the other side of the mountain.
It started out going down very gradually for the first part, then became extremely steep. It wasn't even runnable for the first .6 miles down from the summit. I was mostly climbing down boulders.
This might have been my slowest portion of the run since I pretty much wasn't running at all. It finally leveled off and became runnable again for the rest of the run. The trail met up with the Carrigain Notch Trail that turned back towards the trailhead and cut in between Mt Carrigain and Mts Anderson and Lowell. It had a little climb in the middle, but for the most part it was a regular trail run the whole way back to the Signal Ridge Trail and back to the trailhead. There were no views from the Notch, really, except one brief glimpse of Mt Lowell. I didn't mind the green tunnel, though, since it was so hot out. The shade was very much appreciated. I finished up the run right around 3 hours with just under 4000 ft of gain. 13.2 miles. Really enjoyable run. I'll be back to do this one again on a cooler day.

The drive home was difficult. Fatigue set in quickly, and I could barely keep my eyes open. By the time I got home, I wanted to collapse. I had some coffee, showered, then headed out to a quick appointment. It didn't take long, and I came right home after. I was so beat, so I layed down for awhile. I was on-call for the ambulance from 5pm to 7am, so I hoped I wouldn't get called in. The rest of the night was a wash because I was so tired and in bed just after 8pm. Fortunately, I never did get called in and got a decent night's sleep. Wednesdays are killing me, but I won't complain. I'm back where I want to be, and I'd much rather be losing a night's sleep than sitting at a desk in front of a computer at the chiropractor.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Black Cap/Whitaker Woods

Tuesday- I woke up to sunny skies and cooler, drier weather after a night filled with thunderstorms. As my schedule typically dictates, I had to get out for my run first thing since John comes home around 10am. After Monday night's run (only about 12 hours in between, as usual), I knew I wanted to do a mountain run, but nothing too long, so I drove over to Hurricane Mountain Rd to do one of my local favorites up Black Cap. I parked at the base of the road up to the water tank, then took Red Tail Trail up to the Black Cap Trail and then to the top of Black Cap. My legs were a little tired from the night before, but I still felt good. Spot joined me since she was left behind at the house. She's almost 12, but she still really loves running with me.
Spot on Black Cap

Us on Black Cap

Couldn't decide which picture I liked best so I chose both. Ha ha.
I looped down the other side of Black Cap back to the Black Cap Trail and then back towards Red Tail, but opted to continue along the ridge and run back down via the Kettle Ridge Trail. Kettle Ridge has a lot of switchbacks, so it's a very gradual run back down. Spot chose to cut off all of the switchbacks. Those have never made sense to any of my dogs. :) Finished up the run with 7.2 miles and 1,654 ft of gain. Spot had a nice swim in the brook by the car and then we drove home.

John came home, and his friend came over to play. I wasn't going to have a repeat of last Tuesday with me stuck at the house all day, so I let him play until 2pm, and then we headed to the beach at Conway Lake. It was almost 90 degrees there, so I did a lot of swimming, and John had a really good time. His dad was out there canoeing on the lake when we got there, and I kind of hoped we wouldn't run into him, but no such luck. He and his girlfriend paddled up just as we were about to leave. It wasn't too awkward. His girlfriend is really nice and talked to me. He snubbed me, as usual, but that's better than the alternative. Ha ha.

John and I drove right to Whitaker Woods from Conway Lake to run my last race of the Series. I had absolutely zero desire to race, so I just did my usual jog on the course, running my slowest time this year in 22:23. I hardly put a bit of effort into it except on the big hill where you have no choice. So that's 6 out of the 9 for me. One more race is left on Aug 11th, but I have other (much better!) plans for that day. I should have the 30-39 age group all wrapped up. This will only be my second time winning it, since the other 3 years, I never ran enough of the races to count for an award.

John and I left right after to go to ninja class. It was fun for him as always. He had a surprising amount of energy after swimming in the lake for two straight hours, but he's a strong, fit kid, so I guess it shouldn't surprise me. It was home from there to eat, shower, take out the dogs then go to bed in prep for a 24 hour shift on Wednesday.

Eaton/Freedom Loop

Monday- Decent day at work. Had an interesting call in the morning which killed a good 3 hours. I teched the call, as usual, and drove my partner all around, also as usual. That part is starting to get REALLY old, so he's in for a nice surprise on Monday when I tell him, he'll be driving for a change. No one EVER drives me around, and it's time to put the foot down. Not one of my three partners drives the ambulance, unless I'm dead tired after already driving 5 hours with Michelle or if I'm in the back with the patient in Tamworth. I need a break from the driving, especially if I'm doing more of the work (patient care) on a regular basis in Tamworth. So, Monday, I'm going to put my passenger seat back, break out a container of bon-bons and put my feet up on the dash while my chauffeur drives me on his errands. I can't wait.

During the day, Ryan Welts sent out a message inviting a group of us on a run up and over Mt. Paugus for a loop. I had already planned a long road run for Monday since I wanted to do mountain/trail runs Tues, Thurs and Fri, so I only brought road shoes to work. I almost always bring both trail and road shoes just in case I change my mind, but I guess I was pretty dead set on the road. I thought about going home to change out shoes and then running with them, but I really wanted to just get going right after work and not drive a million miles, so I backed out on the group run. Looked like a good route from what I saw after, so I'll have to take them up on it sometime. I guess I'm more of a loner when I run anyway, but I really should run with people more since it does help me get faster. I just like the peace and quiet of a solo run, especially after being social all day.

As planned, I wanted to do the Eaton/Freedom loop that I've done a few times, but without the first and last quarter mile on 153. 153 scares the hell out of me in the off-season, so I didn't want to touch it this time of year. I parked right at the base of Horseleg Hill Rd where it meets 153 and ran pretty much a straight shot to the Maine border. I was met by my dog buddy, Louis, who usually joins the run for miles, but this time he only went down the hill and back up. He had an encounter with a bull as we ran back up the hill, with the bull chasing him from the other side of the fence. I was actually a little nervous that bull was going to jump the fence and breathed a sigh of relief when I saw it stop at the end of the fence line. I would have had to sacrifice Louis to save myself if that bull had made it past the fence, but we both made it out alive; Louis opted to stay home this time, and I continued on solo. The roads were quiet with very little traffic, which is why I chose this one. The weather was once again pretty nice, cloudy and cooler, but still probably 100% humidity. I was drenched with sweat the whole way. I felt really good, but it would end up being because I ran so damn slow. It's easy to feel good when you're running 30 seconds per mile slower than you should be, but it didn't really surprise me. With about four miles to go, I started to hear thunder off in the distance, and the dark clouds started rolling in. I was really hoping I could outrun it, but with about 2 miles to go, the sky just opened up with a huge downpour and thunder and lightning. It was actually kind of scary since it was striking close. I hugged the sides of the road to stay out of the open as much as possible and even hid in the woods for a few minutes in the last half mile. I was just hoping for the best and ended up making it out alive. I'll take being completely soaked from the rain over struck by lightning and gored by a bull any day. 15.5 miles in 2:07:15, 8:11/mi pace, 2,194 ft of elevation gain. Slow, but definitely still a good run.

York Days 5K

Saturday- I wasn't feeling a run, so I opted to take a zero day. My legs were still feeling Friday's run over the Moats, so I wanted to rest up for the race the next day. John and I enjoyed sleeping in and taking a nice lazy morning. Then we went to the Cranmore Adventure Park. I'd snagged a Groupon with a 20% coupon for the both of us, so it was actually worth the cost. The place wasn't too crowded because it was actually cloudy and chilly (yes, I was cold), so we didn't have to wait in any long lines. It was fun, and that's pretty much all we did that day.

Sunday- I was up at 4am, way too early. The York Days 5K in York, Maine started at 8am, so it meant an early start. John went right from the bed to the car and back to sleep. I so wanted to go back to sleep, but York Days is part of the Seacoast Series, so it's one I "had" to do. I had actually planned a crazy morning. I was going to rush right to my car as soon as I finished York Days and then drive over to Dover to jump in the Six03 Summerfest 10K which started at 9am. It would only work if everything worked out perfectly. It was a dumb idea, but I still thought it would be cool to do. I had everything ready to change clothes real quick, and Tom Hooper was going to have a bib ready for me at the starting line. In the end, it didn't work out. York started about 5 minutes late, and I ended up getting snagged for an interview at the finish by the Portsmouth Herald. By the time I got to my car, it was already too late. I actually felt relieved. It would have hurt to sit in my car for 25 minutes then jump out and go right into a 10K. Probably would have injured myself, too, so it was all for the best.

Anyway, we got to York High School around 6:45am. Hardly anyone was there, so I got a parking place easily, then grabbed my bib# and got ready for a warm up. John was still sleeping, so I woke him to tell him I was warming up, and then he just went back to sleep. Since this was my first time doing this one, I decided to run the whole course for the warm up. It wasn't completely flat, but for me, it was flat. The first mile had a slight incline. The second had a downhill, uphill and then a downhill, all very small. And the third was pretty much pancake flat. My warm up was effortless, but when I got back to the car, I was pouring in sweat. The temperature was fairly cool, but the humidity was still there. I had planned to wear a regular shirt, but opted for the singlet after that. We really did luck out weather wise, though. Cloudy, temps in the low 70s. Couldn't beat that in July, really.

I woke John up at this point since I wanted him to know where he was and where to go if he needed someone, then I headed down to the start. I lined up next to Melissa Donais. She and Nate had both come to race this one. The only other people there I recognized were the usual two guys, Eric Couture and Derrick Hamel. I didn't recognize a single other person there in the group of over 600 people. Not a single one. Most of the Six03 people were doing the 10K that morning or else York probably would have had much bigger numbers. I talked to Melissa for awhile, then the Bow Tie Guys sang the National Anthem. Best National Anthem EVER! Seriously.
Bow Tie Guys. What a treat.
Immediately following the National Anthem, the race started. I went off fast (like always). I wanted to get a good lead right off the bat. I didn't know who any of the women were besides Melissa, so I wasn't holding back. But, damn, if this little girl didn't give me a run for my money off the starting line for longer than I was comfortable with. Ha ha. I have to say I was impressed, though. And I think it's awesome that they captured a photo of her totally schooling me.
Getting my ass handed to me. :)
It still took me about another 100 yards to pass her. Phew. Ha ha. From there, I just kept up the fast pace. Just past the 1 mile marker, the course takes a sharp turn right. I took a look back to see the closest woman probably about 20 seconds back. She was the only one I saw, and I knew that if she was 20 seconds back already that she wasn't going to catch me. I knew I could hold a pretty even pace for this course, so I just kept hammering it out, passing a few of the men, including a younger guy who had shot out way in front of Eric and Nate at the start (guess he needs to work on pacing a bit better), and playing leap frog with two others. We hit mile 2, and I knew the rest would be a flat run into the finish. My third mile was slower than the first 2, but not by a significant amount.
Around mile 2.5
I gave it a little kick for the last .1 to make sure I hit a PR, and came through 1st woman, 10th overall in 18:35, 5:59/mi pace. Not a huge PR, though, so I wasn't hugely excited about it. Maybe if I did speed work and trained for 5Ks, I could get it lower, but I'm ok with leaving that part out and running an 18:35. Ha ha. If you follow my blog, you know how I feel about the track (see Boston Twilight post). The second woman came in 43 seconds back, followed closely by Melissa, who was 55 seconds back, so I won by a good margin, but not a huge one. This keeps me in the lead, so far, for the women in the Seacoast Series. The next 3 won't be so easy, so I don't necessarily have it in the bag or anything. Eric Couture and Nate Jenkins had a good battle the whole race, with Eric pulling off another win for the Series. Congrats to him on that! Race Results.

As soon as I finished, the same guy who interviewed me after the Children's Museum of NH 5K stopped me for another one. I was immediately thinking, "Oh no. I sounded like such an idiot in the last one. DO NOT SAY ANYTHING STUPID THIS TIME." Did that work? No. I still sound like a moron. "... I haven’t been doing a lot of workouts..." I swear I said "FAST workouts", not just "workouts". Makes me sound like a total asshole without the word "fast" in there. This might as well have been my quote, "Yeah, like, I don't really workout or train, but I still come out and win this shit easily." Ugh!! Here's the article: Portsmouth Herald Article.

I went right to my car after that to give John some food and change shirts, then I ran the whole course again for a cool down. It was actually much faster than the warm up. Ha ha. Ended up with 9 miles for the day. I got back a little late for the awards and missed being called, but I made it in time for most of the rest, then grabbed mine after they were done. $100 and an actually cool award (I'm not into trophies or medals, normally). It's hard to tell from the pic, but the shoe is floating in the glass. Really neat. John liked it so much that he wanted it. It's his now on his table with his XBOX (and other nik-naks).

I talked with Melissa and Nate a little bit then went back to the car. The beach was right around the corner so we drove over there. Overcast skies meant no problem getting a parking space, so John and I took a short walk on the beach.
John after chasing seagulls on Long Sands Beach in York, ME

The kid has an eye for the beauty of nature (Finally!)
As with most far-off races, I usually have something planned for John to do, and since we were in York, York's Wild Kingdom seemed like the place to go. We were already planning to go since my Fun Pass booklet has a free kids pass in it, but winning the $100 made it even sweeter since I was able to use that to pay my admission. I'm not a huge fan of zoos, but this place was cool. The animals were just so awesome, and the place was very clean and well taken care of. I hated to see the animals in cages, but at the same time, it was neat to see these animals, especially all of the primates. I probably squealed louder at the cuteness than any little girl there. Yes, I'm one of those. Cute animals make me melt. :)
John with a primate (can't remember the name)

My life isn't complete without a llama sighting

Prairie dog about to mow us all down

My big kid!

Us on top of the ferris wheel
John loved this place. He even wanted to go back in the zoo to watch two of the coolest primates one more time while he ate his cotton candy. It was a mama and baby. They were swinging all around the cage. Just amazing to watch.

We headed out after that, and I had this bright idea to go up Rt 1 to go home. Might as well have been in Conway Village on a Friday with stand-still traffic. I stopped in Ogunquit at the Backyard Bakery for a coffee and sandwiches for us then checked Google Maps for a way out of this mess. My out was only a quarter-mile away. Yay! We ended up going back via empty back roads all the way through Maine, even getting off of 109 for a long time to take even emptier back roads by lakes I'd never seen before. I just followed where the Google voice took me since I have it set to take me the fastest route (which takes me around traffic, too). It was actually really pretty and a nice way to go; we ended up right at the Poor People's Pub in Wakefield, NH. I knew where I was at that point and got right on 16N. The traffic going south was unreal; I was happy to be going the opposite direction for the quiet of home.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Moat Traverse Loop

Friday- After some pretty short runs, I had a nice Moat Range Traverse run in my plan for today. But my idea of a traverse has to be a solo one, so there's no running from one end to the other and picking up my spotted car. If I had tried that, my car wouldn't have been there waiting for me. It would still be on High St where I left it. So if I want to do a traverse, that means I have to traverse then make my way back. I came up with this run as my New Year's Day run this year. We hadn't had that much snow by then, but I had some scary moments on the ice on that one. The run was awesome, though, so I couldn't wait to do it again. After last Sunday's failed attempt at North Moat with Mike and John, I had to hit it this week.

I had completely forgotten to drop my time sheet at work yesterday so I had to go to the base first. I tried to go in to the crew office all stealth so I could get in and out quickly. It kind of worked. One person spotted me, but he had to head out on a wheelchair run so he couldn't talk long. I dropped yesterday's report and my time card in the box and bolted to High Street.

I parked in the lot by the High School Loop. Oh and if you know anyone who lost a bra over there, it's hanging on a tree by the parking lot.
Is this yours?
I started on the High School Loop, but when it veered right, I stayed straight until the right turn on the former Moat Mt Trail. It climbs for about a mile before reaching the current Moat Mt Trail. Almost at the top, I came across a bear in the trail ahead. I had a few seconds to watch it before it saw me. I must have scared it because it darted into the woods and ran away quickly. Lots of bear sightings lately. Pretty neat. I continued on up South Moat and ran into a mom with her young son resting on the trail a little ways up. Oh the nostalgia! That was me 8 years ago carrying John up the same trail!! 
15-month old John on South Moat Mt, June 2007
I talked with her briefly, then moved on. The climb was kicking my ass today. It always does, but today seemed especially tough, even with the cooler temps. I was still sweating like a pig, though. About 3/4 of the way up, I came across something I had never seen up there before. Three people were carrying mountain bikes up the mountain. I cannot imagine ANY trail that is bikeable up there or back down. I'm no real mountain biker, though, so what do I know. But still. Every trail back down is wicked steep and/or really rocky. I don't think they had been up there before either because they were all headed way off trail by the time I got to them. I told them the trail went "this way" as I passed by, and I could hear one of them tell the others, "Hey! The trail goes that way!" I got the hell out of there before I had to be a part of any rescue. I actually asked Sol tonight if they got any calls at Conway Fire for injured mountain bikers on the Moats. Ha ha. He said no, so I'm assuming they made it back down in one piece somehow. Very strange sight, though. Not really a mountain I'd pick to ride my bike on, but like I said, I'm no expert mountain biker.

As I got to the top of South Moat, I started to see the blueberries. TONS of them. I couldn't help but stop to pick some. I wasn't planning to stop for long on the top of South Moat, but I actually needed to drink some water. This is rare for me, and I usually don't even bring any. As I was drinking, I looked over towards the Kanc and spotted the faintest rainbow cutting across some of the mountains. It was hardly noticeable, and I tried to get a picture of it, but it didn't come out at all.
Invisible rainbow

View towards Heavenly Hill and Madison

Conway Lake, Pleasant Mt in Maine
I didn't stay long since I was actually crunched for time, but I didn't make it far across the ridge before I was seeing a gazillion blueberries. How could I not stop? I could have spent an hour up there picking berries, but I just picked a few, ran on, picked more, ran on, etc., until I was at the end of the open ridge and headed down into the woods. 

Yes. I'm thinking the same thing.

Middle and North Moats on the left

The trail descends into the woods and then climbs back up to Middle Moat where the Red Ridge Trail veers right. That is my "short" Moat Loop run. I continued on the Moat Mountain Trail which once again descended into the woods before a long, sometimes technical, ascent up to the summit of North Moat, which has one of my favorite views in the Whites. The weather was starting to turn at this point, and the wind was pretty strong. I tried to take a video, but with the loud wind, you can't hear a thing I'm saying, and I look like an idiot. Ha ha. I'll share it anyway.

The last time I descended North Moat, the summit was a sheet of ice, and I had some very scary moments making my way down. Today, the trail was super dry, so it was a much easier time going down. The entire trail was actually drier than I had ever seen it, so running down was much easier than usual. A light rain started when I was only about a quarter of the way down, but it didn't have much effect on the rock slabs being slippery. It was a long run down to where the trail nearly flattens out, the same place John, Mike and I turned around on Sunday. Running this part is super quick. At the Red Ridge Trail, I crossed the brook and started another long gradual climb to the Red Ridge Link, a steeper 1/2 mile climb up to the Whitehorse Ledge Trail. I was only on this briefly before I turned onto the Lower Stoney Ridge Trail, part of the Mineral Site Network. I followed this for quite a ways until it reached FS Rd 739 which I took for the next 2.5 miles back to my car at the High School Loop. I finished off my run at 14.2 miles in over 3 hours with 3,974 ft of elevation gain. A lot of climbing but also a lot of downhills.

I was pretty beat after the run since I had only had some toast beforehand. I was in a bit of a hurry to get home to shower and then head off to my hair appointment. John and his dad pulled into the driveway right in front of me, so John could be dropped off for the weekend. I quickly ate a bowl of cereal, showered and then headed off into tourist hell to get my hair done. I could not a find a place to park since it was Percy the Train hell over at the train station, so I parked in the North Conway Post Office lot. John and I got on the railroad tracks to walk up to Seavey St. As we're walking, this car comes to a stop in front of us and this guy starts yelling at me, "Get off the tracks!!! It's dangerous!!! There's a train coming!!" At first, I thought this had to be some sort of joke. The tracks we were walking on are not used except once every couple of years maybe for a special event. I can't even remember the last time they were used. I just stared at him and kept walking. He started yelling the same thing AGAIN and seemed very irate, maybe since I was risking my son's life and all. LOL. Dum-dum. I still just stared at him and kept walking. At this point, he angrily threw his hands in the air, like, "I give up!" Then he drove off. Seriously? WTF. I'm assuming he thought this was part of the main rail line and that Percy was about to come run us down. Ha ha. I was super annoyed, though. The town is freaking madhouse with tourists acting like idiots. It's so frustrating.

We made it to my hair appointment with my friend, Nina. John brought his computer along to use so he was all set. I hadn't had my haircut and color since March so, most days, it looked like I had stuck my finger in a light socket. I can only afford this 3 times a year, so I always put it off as long as possible. It was finally time. It's nice to get pampered a little bit, even if it's only 3 times a year. Ha ha.

John wanted a hot chocolate at Frontside Grind after, so we walked there. I was coffeed out, so I just got the hot chocolate for him.
John at Frontside Grind
We walked to the playground after so John could play for awhile. Note the woman below in white capris. The first time John jumped off the swing, she was horrified. In this video, she does not look amused. Ha ha ha. The girl standing in front of me laughing is actually someone we've known from Saco Valley Gymnastics for a few years. Shawna knows John well.

 On the way home, I had some road rage outbursts and took enforcement of the one-lane bridge rule into my own hands. You can't use the bridge while I'm on it if I park my car right in front of yours, now can you? My blasting horn was just to ensure I got my point across. I guess the "One Lane Bridge" and "Yield" signs just weren't obvious enough. At this point, I needed to be home in my peaceful place. Driving during tourist season just sends me over the edge. It felt good to be back in the quiet for the rest of the night.

Mt Whiteface

Wednesday was the usual 24 at work. I spent almost 2 hours that morning getting our truck in order after it was left in a shambles by the other crew. 3 hours later, we had to put the truck out-of-service for a bad coolant leak, so Michelle and I spent another hour getting our replacement truck in order to run it the rest of the day. WTF. We had a few runs during the day, followed by a transfer to Maine Med and then a middle of the night 911 call. 4 hours of sleep. Ha ha. Woke up Thursday morning, I mean an hour later, to shower and then head to the Tamworth base for my 10 hour shift. We did our truck check and then Sol and I headed to Rosie's for breakfast. I was STARVING. I had to eat dinner around 5pm the night before and had had nothing since. I finished my food way before Sol. Ha ha. It was a nice breakfast. Sol and I get along really well, and we're almost exactly a year apart, so it's nice to have someone my age to work with on Thursdays. After breakfast, we made the other crew take the first 911 that came in (since we took first call last week), then it was a lazy day for the next 3 hours until it was our turn. All of my road running in Tamworth has paid off because I knew exactly where the house was located; I'd run past it recently. That definitely helps when you have such a huge coverage area. That call put us out of base until around 4:30pm. At 5pm, I was done and ready for my run.

After doing Passaconaway last week, I decided that Whiteface was next on the list, so I drove over to the Ferncroft Trailhead to do an evening run up there via the Blueberry Ledge Trail. The trail is pretty gradual for the first 2.5 and then gets really steep. I was having fun with it, though, and very surprised to not have my usual Thursday evening slugfest. I think the weather helped. It had to be in the low 60s on the way up. The trail had some awesome viewpoints on the way up. Just REALLY beautiful with views of Winnipesaukee, Squam, Ossipee Lakes. By the time I got to the top, it was in the 50s, and I actually started to get cold quickly. I stopped on some high rocks where the Blueberry Ledge Trail ends to check out the view and take pics (Yes, can you believe it? I took pictures. Selfies even!).
Wearing a singlet from one of my MANY club/teams

Squam Lake

Mt Washington in the far back

Chocorua out there in the back

I noticed that I wasn't at the highest point, so I ran up the trail more until it started to go down on the Downes Brook Trail. I assumed I hit the summit, but according to Ryan Welts, I missed it. I guess there's a cairn marking the summit there somewhere. I'll have to search for it next time. I'm not bagging peaks for any real reason, so missing actual summits isn't a big deal to me. I'm just running mountains because I love to run mountains. Not to say I did. I'm not doing the 4000 footers or whatever. Maybe some day, but right now, I'm just enjoying my time on any mountain, especially after a 34 hour shift.

The run down was quick. It was getting really dark in the tree cover, and I didn't want to have to use my phone's flashlight again. At one point, a brown rabbit ran across the trail in front of me just as a bird was flying the same direction above it. It almost looked like they were moving together. It was cool to see.

I made it down with plenty of time to spare. 7.4 miles, 2,866 ft of elevation gain.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Road/Trail/Trail Race

Monday- Slow day at work. That's how Mondays have always been, but it was so hot that I just wanted to be lazy and sit in the a/c all day anyway. At 5pm, I headed right from the base for an out-and-back on Ossipee Lake Rd. Why I ran on the road in the blazing heat like that, I'm not sure, except I do know I wanted to get about 8 miles in as quickly as possible. The road is much faster than the trail, but I'm not sure it was worth it. Halfway through, I almost cut through the woods of the Freedom Town Forest to make my way to Lead Mine Rd to get in the shade, but I decided it against it. Ran 4 out, 4 back. The road is nearly flat so even with it being 87 degrees, I was still able to move pretty fast. I never run anything flat, so it was easy. 8 miles in 55:25, 6:53/mi pace.

I had to go in the base for about 5 minutes to cool off in the a/c. I was pouring in sweat and beet red. Way too hot. Then I drove home, showered and picked up my friend, Jon, to go to open mic night at the Red Parka. He'd been wanting to go out but didn't have anybody to go out with, so I said I would go out with him. I was starving by the time we got there, but for some reason I got the salad bar. Salad didn't cut it, so I ended up eating an entire baguette. ha ha. I knew a few people there who are in Wreckless, the same band that played at the 302 the weekend before, but most of the crowd, I didn't know. Not really my circle. Wreckless played a set, as did Carl (John's ninja coach), who's also in the band. An older guy played who was decent, but then this awful, loud strange person got up there for WAY too long. It was excruciating to the ears. He even tried to play, "One more!" Carl pulled the plug on that one. The guy was on his knees screaming into the microphone about aliens or something. Definitely entertaining... for the eyes, not the ears. Wreckless played a really good set after that, followed by a jam band. I was so done by then. I just can't hang anymore. It was almost midnight anyway. Jon was beat, too, so we left. I drove him home first, so I was late getting back and didn't get to sleep until around 1am.

Tuesday- Had plans for an epic run, but... the party life and early morning runs don't work like they used to. In college, I could be out until 2 or 3am and wake up right at 6am for a run. I would be half drunk still and run well, but I was young. Not so young anymore. I could not get myself out of bed in time to do the run I had planned, so I decided to go to the Green Hills for a trail run. By the time I got out there, I only had an hour and 15 minutes to get my run in. I somehow picked the right route perfectly because it took me right around an hour and 15 minutes. I needed to be done by 9:45am. I was done at 9:46am and home by 10:01am (technically a minute late) for John's dad to drop John off.

The run was nothing special or new, and I didn't run it anywhere close to my fastest time, but it was ok. I ran from Hemlock Lane down Corridor 19 to where the mountain bike trail veers off into the woods to run in the "Outer Limits". It's a pretty decent climb up that doesn't give you much of a break. I continued on to Rattlesnake Mt (not the summit) and then back down the other side to the Quarry Trail and back to my car to make a decent loop. 6.8 miles 1,291 ft of gain. Not a bad run, but it could have been better.
Redstone Quarry. I brought Spot along on the run.
As soon as John came home, he hopped on his bike to go see what his friend was doing, and that was pretty much it for the following 5 hours. I only saw him once during that time when I got a knock on the door by a woman I didn't know. She's apparently a neighbor who lives next to John's friend. Just wanted to let me know that John had hurt her son. Ugh. WTF. I was totally caught off-guard. I didn't really know what to say since I wasn't there, and I had never once even seen this woman or her kids. John and his friend had followed her over and were standing there listening. I kept shooting John WTF looks. ha ha. So I said I would talk to him and gave a meaningless, "Sorry," since I didn't know what else to say. I had to talk to John after that to get the whole story. I guess the other kid is 5 years old, and he threw John's watch at John and hurt him. Then John grabbed the watch and went after the kid hurting him worse. Omg. So we had to talk about how you have to be the big guy and not retaliate, especially against a 5 year old, blah, blah, blah. It wasn't fun. But I guess that shit's going to happen when you put a group of boys together. I'm just hoping I got through to him a little bit. I don't want to deal with "MOM" again. Ha ha.

It was long day just hanging out at the house by myself. Normally, I won't do it because I feel like I'm wasting time. I really don't like hanging out at home during the day at all, but I decided to suck it up so John could play with his friend. I'm happy he finally has a best friend who lives on the same street, so I had to let him spend the day over there. A little after 4pm, I went to get him so we could go to the Summer Series at Whitaker Woods and then to his ninja class.

The temperature had cooled a bit, and a light rain had started by the time we got to Whitaker Woods. I had already decided I was racing this time around, so the clouds and cooler weather (still humid, though!) made me happy. I went out for a mile warm up and immediately ran into a group of very fast-looking high school girls all wearing sports bras and small shorts. They looked legit. Damn, I had a bunch of high school girls to beat. No way in hell were they going to beat me on my turf. I finished up the mile warm up, half of it with Roger Marcoux, and made it back to the start with 10 minutes to spare. I was watching these girls continue to warm up. Very intimidating. As I was standing there, I see this woman slowly sauntering over to me. I was pretty sure it was their coach since I had seen her in the woods with them. I think someone outed me as competition because the first thing she said was, "Are you fast?" Ha ha ha. I don't really know how to answer a question like that because it's all relative. And even at Whitaker Woods, I don't usually run very fast. Too be honest, I don't even think I answered her question. I must have looked puzzled because she went on by asking what time I run there. Once again, I wasn't really sure how to answer her. So I told her my fastest time on the course was right around 20 min, but that I had been just running it around 21 or 22 minutes. She said she was worried about her girls getting lost on the course (the signage is a bit confusing the first time doing it) and was hoping her fastest girl (a redhead who actually looked the fastest) would have someone to run with. She thought our times would be comparable. F-Bomb. I was REALLY going to have to race tonight. She was SUPER nice. I talked to her a bit more and found out they are a team called the Granite State Flash. One of the parents paid for a place for them to come up for a running "camp" for a week. Wow. These girls are the real deal. Give them a few years, and they will be kicking my ass.

We lined up at the start, and the redhead went right up to line next to Tim Livingston. I was behind Tim. I knew I had to go out fast. Bernie called it, and off we went. As predicted the redhead flew off the line ahead of me. I wasn't having it. Watch out, girls. 39 year old coming through. I passed her right away, but I could hear her right on my heels for the first half mile. She dropped back a little bit but only by 5 seconds at the first mile (which is flat). I was thinking there was no way she could hang the climb in the second mile, but then again, I didn't know if I could hang since I had already done some decent climbing that morning. I just kept going as fast as I could. From the top, there's a decent downhill and a sharp turn left where I could take a look back. I was shocked to see her maybe only 10 seconds back. What.the.hell. There is one small climb right after this and then a long downhill. I was hoping I could school her on that downhill since it's pretty rooty. The downhill took out Darin Brown who had been about 20 yards in front of me the whole race; he twisted his ankle and started walking. I just kept hauling ass. As I turned sharply to the right for the last part of the race, I looked back and only saw Darin. The redhead was nowhere in sight. Sigh of relief. I didn't let up, though. I realized that I was going so hard that I would probably be able to PR on the course, so I just kept up the pace and sure enough, after 5 summers of trying to go under 20 minutes, I did it. 19:52. A PR on the course. It's sad because 19:52 for a 5K isn't that fast, but for some reason, that course has always been slow for me. I was psyched, though. The redhead came through probably over a minute back, so she really lost it in the last mile. She probably started off too fast trying to stay with me and just bonked hard in the last mile. I was pretty happy to win it. I couldn't let some high school girls beat me at Whitaker Woods! (Not yet, anyway.)

We rushed off to John's ninja class after that. It was a really good class, and I'm impressed by how strong these boys are. The rest of the night was laid back. I made us dinner, took the dogs out, showered and then went to bed. 34 hour shift started at 7am the next morning.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

No Race Weekend

It was pretty weird not having a race this weekend, and I have to admit to being a little envious of those at the Level Renner 10K. But at the same time, I was happy to have the weekend free of it all.
Saturday, I got up early and ran the dogs up and down Heavenly Hill once in the pouring rain, then jumped on the treadmill for 4 miles in 28:56, 7:14/mi pace.

After the run, John and I headed to Ashland, NH for his annual teacher evaluation for homeschooling. We have a good contact over there who does them for us every year. I sat down with her for over an hour going over John's activities and progress, and then she makes recommendations for the next year. It's pretty simple, which I love about homeschooling in the State of NH.

From there, we went to the Polar Caves since it was close by. We had never been here, so it was hard to pass up, being so close. The Caves are pretty neat since you get to crawl through them. They aren't as tight as Lost River Gorge, but there were a few places a large person might struggle. John loved the caves and spending time walking the park.

We went home from there. I decided my house needed a real cleaning since it was full of dust and cobwebs, so i spent about 3 hours doing that. When I was done, it was just around sunset. The dogs were really itching to get out so I decided to walk them up Heavenly Hill again. John opted to stay home, so it was just me. There was a really nice breeze up there, and I got a little view before it got dark. Luckily, I remembered my headlamp for the walk down.

Sunday, I had planned an awesome hike up Eisenhower with John. Mike Quintal was driving up in the morning to join us. I was shocked to see the forecast had suddenly changed to thunderstorms, so I went with plan B to hike up North Moat. John was awake before me and seemed to be in a good mood, so I had a good feeling about the hike... until John fell back asleep. Mike got to the house around 9am, and I was pretty much packed and ready to go, just a few things left. Then it was time to wake up John. I have never had such a hard time getting the kid out of bed. He wasn't even in bed. He was in the living room half on his Yogibo and his other half on the hard floor under the table. It was a funny sight. I kept bugging him, but he was out cold. I should have known right then to just let him rest and push our hike back an hour or so, but I didn't, since I thought North Moat would take awhile. Instead I dragged the grumpiest kid in the world up and out the door. I thought a coolata at Dunkin' Donuts would help wake him up, but my first DD attempt was a no-go. The line wasn't tolerable. I just couldn't do it. INSANE the number of people. I thought the one in town might be better, so I drove there. NOPE. Just as bad. I don't know how I did it. Inside my head, I was flipping my lid. It was AWFUL. And the orders!! WTF, people!!! I wanted to scream. It took everything I had not to walk out again... and I should have because John only ended up drinking half of it in the end. Ha ha.

We FINALLY proceeded to Diana's Bath and parked on the street. I got John out of the car, but it was almost a fight and he was not happy. I had a bad feeling. I think Mike could tell this wasn't going to go well either. We were greeted with MANY of my favorite tourists (shoot me in the head) on the walk to Diana's Bath. I couldn't wait to go past there on the Moat Mountain Trail for some peace. John was so mad and obviously not having fun since it started to downpour right off the bat. He had his rain jacket, but he wasn't feeling it. He even started to cry at one point (then denied it. lol), but he was still moving forward. The walk is very flat for the first 2.4 miles and through the woods. Kind of boring. I realized I had made a really big mistake in my choice of hikes. Stupid idea. He was in such a bad mood and this part of the hike was way too boring for him. When we got to the sign where the Moat Mountain Trail turns uphill, John was all done. We had to abort it there and turn around. All of a sudden, John was extremely happy and running down the trail. WTF. He thought we were going home right after this. I had to break the news that, um, no, we weren't going home. So then, he was mad again. It was such a joyous hike. :) I felt really bad since Mike had driven all the way up from Mass for this, and it was not going well. I should have known to either let John sleep or change plans to something better.

We got back at the car, and I was toying with the idea of driving up to the Black Cap Trail, but I hate driving up Hurricane Mt Rd in my car. It has zero power. John was game to walk up Cathedral Ledge via the climbers' trail, so we drove there. His mood changed at this point. He was super happy and enjoying himself finally. The hike is just under a half mile long, but it's steep, so Mike got to at least walk up a hill today. Ha ha. But it was back in tourist hell. ha ha. They weren't that bad, but it was funny that we kept ending up surrounded by tourists. I was happy to see John enjoying himself this time around, though. Made me feel so much better.
Mike hated this picture, but said I could put it in my blog (just not on Facebook). Ha ha.

A finally happy John
We hiked down then went back to the house to change into dry clothes and go to Sea Dog for dinner. We had eaten pretty much nothing all day, so I was starving. Dinner was fun, especially having a happy kid still. From there, I drove Mike down Passaconaway Rd, High St and out to the Kanc to show him where the Mineral Site Trails are. John was once again out cold during the drive. Mike headed back to Mass as soon as we got home, and John's friend came over to play. I decided to run on the treadmill for an easy 3 miles in 21:34. It was so humid that I was soaked in sweat by the time I was done. My treadmill, too. ha ha.
Post-treadmill sweat in the dungeon
 I was a little disappointed that our hike didn't work out today, but it is what it is. We can't have epic days ALL the time. ;)

Friday, July 17, 2015


After getting off shift Thursday morning in North Conway, I did the usual trek down to our Tamworth base for another 10 hours. Although we only had one call, my partner and ended up staying busy all day. We joined the Ossipee crew for breakfast at Mountain Girl Bakery in Center Ossipee. The food here is really good. I highly recommend it. Breakfast with the crews is always fun; we don't do it often because of cost factor, but when we do, we have a blast. We ended up moving between Tamworth and Ossipee all day to cover until a 911 in Madison came through at 3pm. We got back to Tamworth just before our shift ended, so the day kind of flew by.

I was so ready for my run, but as soon as I stepped onto the road, I did not feel very good. I had eaten not long before this and immediately had stomach cramps. I pushed through it, though, and by mile 3, they were gone. I ran from our ambulance base down 41 to East Shore Dr to Lead Mine Rd for an out-and-back. This was actually not my plan when I started the run. I was going to do the road loop around Silver Lake, but I decided I'd rather not run down busy 41, so I turned on East Shore instead. I never felt great on the run, but I still pulled off 10.8 miles at a 7:30/mi pace. As soon as I finished, though, my entire body felt sore, and I had a headache. I felt a little better after getting home and having a good dinner, but I was super tired. I had to write up my report from the 911 call, and I just crashed. I slept for almost 10 hours.

Friday morning, I actually woke up feeling good. I was a little sore, though, which I can't quite figure out. I took my time, which is always a nice treat on Fridays. Sat on the deck with my coffee and trail map trying to decide what route to take up Mt Passaconaway. Jonathan Miller and Gary Reuter, both, went up there yesterday, so I knew it had to be my choice for today. Mt Passaconaway has been on my list since 2007, when I used to hike with John up Hedgehog and Potash. I would look up from these mountains at the beast looming above and plan to go up there some day. I just never felt like I had the time to pull it off, so it stayed on the back burner. But now, Fridays have given me the time to do some of the trails and mountains I only wished I could do a year ago.

So after looking at the map, I decided that I would go up via the Kanc side. The trailhead is only 20 minutes from my house, as opposed to 35 minutes to Ferncroft. (I'm lucky to be so close to both!) I parked at the Oliverian Brook Trailhead and ran the Oliverian Brook Trail for about 2 miles before veering off onto the Passaconaway Cutoff Trail. These first two miles were nearly flat on a soft Pine needle trail. Very enjoyable running. The third mile climbs a lite bit more, but it was all very runnable until I hit the Square Ledge Trail. Ouch. This was some really steep climbing, so I ended up power hiking up parts of it when I needed to catch my breath. The trail levels out a bit on the southern side of the mountain with great views of Lake Winnipesaukee, Squam Lake and Ossipee Lake, and meets the Walden Trail.
View of Winnipesaukee and Squam
The trail quickly veered right for some more steep climbing up to the summit. The summit actually has no view.
Cairn at the summit of Mt Passaconaway
This did not mean there were not any views to be had. In fact, there were some awesome ones.
View of Chocorua

Tiny Mt Hedgehog below

The best view was about a quarter mile off trail down the former Downes-Brook Slide Trail. I ran down there and spent about 10 minutes taking in the view. I was so happy to have finally made it up Mt Passaconaway after all of these years.

The run down was super quick and easy. I had no idea it would be so quick, but I had never been on the Oliverian Brook Trail before to know how flat it is. I got back to my car and drove home. I had about an hour to spare before John came home.

We didn't do anything since John went to his friend's house to play. I went over to Conway Fire to grab an application for their ambulance. I've wanted to join them for awhile, but I didn't think I could get hired. I guess they're short people now for on call shifts and that would be perfect for me to add on to my regular North Conway Ambulance job. I know most of the people on Conway anyway, so that part would be easy.

I'm pretty excited about my first non-race weekend in 4 months. I have two good days planned with John that include Polar Caves tomorrow and a good mountain hike on Sunday. I'm really looking forward to the laid back weekend.

On a side note, I did make the decision to decline my invitation to this year's Hartford Marathon. I don't know whether I could pull off a good performance two weeks after the VT 50. I did ask to be considered for next year when I'll have moved into the masters category. Hopefully, it will work out.

I also made the Conway Daily Sun again for the Cranmore Hill Climb, which really annoys my coworkers in a funny way. They say I owe them beer for every photo, so I think I'm up to a keg by now.
Conway Daily Sun write-up on Cranmore