Saturday, July 4, 2015


Since VCM, most of my weeks have been focused on racing and then recovery. I've cut the miles way back, added in a lot of mountain/trail running and have been taking 2-3 zero days a week. I'm at a point where I'm ready for a weekend off. So after Cranmore Mountain Race next weekend, I will be breaking my streak (last race-free weekend was in March). Even though, I'm signed up for the Level 10K, I've decided not to do it. I need a break, not just physically, but mentally. And John does, too. Of course, I'm only taking one weekend off before I hit the York Days 5K the following weekend, but for the next month and a half, my races will be a lot shorter and less demanding on my legs. So I can shift my training back to longer runs, both road and trail. I have the VT50 at the end of September, so it will be a good time to get the distance runs back in and not have too worry too much about racing. I still have 5 races in August, but the longest race is a 9-mile trail race, which, unfortunately, is on the same day at the next NE Grand Prix race (I'll miss the next two GP races). The others are 5Ks and a 10K. Easy stuff.

Monday- Woke up SO SORE, even my back. I could barely bend over. And my legs could barely move. Uh oh. How was I supposed to lift a stretcher all day? No power stretcher on Mondays. I rarely ever take medications of any kind, but Ibuprofen was in order. And since I rarely take them, I only took two, and it took care of the back soreness, but hardly touched the legs. Work was pretty quiet, but on one call, we got to Memorial and had to lower the stretcher down. Wouldn't you know it? The stretcher failed to catch on the notch we wanted, and it kept lowering down. My legs couldn't handle going down any further. My partner was looking at me and saw the  panicked look on my face. I was so relieved when it caught on the next notch. Of all days for it to do that (even though it's been missing that notch more often lately), it had to be Monday. I ended up using my back for that one. Completely the wrong way to lower it, but my legs could only bend so far. Ha ha. I was lucky it clicked and caught when it did. My partner got a big kick out of that one and laughed at me later, said he could see the fear in my eyes. LOL.

Ended up being a zero day for me. Walked up Heavenly Hill after work, and even that was difficult. Ha ha.

Pretty sky

Brought up a 'Gansett Shandy
Tuesday- John's dad decided to take John to Marshfield, Ma (where he's from) for Tues-Fri to visit family and go to the ocean, so I ended up with a rare Tuesday free. I have to admit that I was kind of bummed not to have John with me since it was the first Tuesday in maybe 5 weeks when it wasn't pouring rain. In fact, it was a GORGEOUS day, so I was sad we couldn't go hiking or to the lake together, but I knew he was having fun with his cousins at the beach, so I just decided to enjoy myself a little.

The legs were still SUPER sore. Not much difference from Monday, but there was no way I wasn't getting out on some trail somewhere for a run. I needed something that had very little steep ups or downs (these hurt the worst), and I also wanted to do a trail I'd never done before. So I decided on the Flat Mountain Pond Trail. The trail does go uphill for the first 4.5 miles, but it was so gradual that it's hardly noticeable. It still took about the first 3 miles for my legs to warm up and not feel as heavy. The trail was a lot rockier than I thought it would be, so it was slow going. And there were many, many stream crossings. I started out trying to avoid getting my shoes wet, but that just became ridiculous, so I started running through them all. It's not like I wasn't used to wet feet after the last few weeks, especially Whiteface. I made my way up towards the pond which was beautiful, and then the trail goes up and around it for about a mile.
Flat Mountain Pond

Took a spur trail to a Beaver Pond to see a view of Flat Mountain

View from the shelter area
Very slow going with a lot of roots and wet rocks. I also wore my Salomon shoes again. Still not impressed. Same deal. Huge lugs on the soles, but absolutely zero traction on anything slightly damp. Bad choice for this run, but I didn't fall, and speed wasn't a goal, so I just took my time. Once around the other end of the pond, I ran over to the shelter area to see the view and decided a little skinny dipping was in order. :) I love to skinny dip during a run, and I'm fortunate to be out there a lot with no people around. I thought I would spice up my dull blog a little with this 1950s era risque shot I took. I was actually laughing as I did this. Ha ha. ;)
Stop the press! It's my naked back! LOL. 
I hate cold water, but the pond was really warm and felt great, especially on the legs. I got dressed and moved on. The trail was almost all downhill to Bennett Street with stream crossing after stream crossing. Once down at Bennett St, I had about a 2-mile run back to the car on the road. Such a pretty area. When I got back to the trailhead, I took an "ice bath" under the bridge in the stream. This water was colder than the pond, but it felt really good. 12.4 miles with almost 1400 ft of elevation gain. Perfect run for the day.

I went home for a few hours to relax, then it was off to Portsmouth for the Tuesday night Six03 Pub Run. Mike Quintal wanted to go to so we decided to meet up at this one. I never know anybody at these things so it was nice to have a friend to meet up with. The group meets up at Fat Belly's for a group pic, then we break off into groups, a 3-mile or a 5-mile.
Group pic at the Six03 Pub Run
We opted for the 5-mile run (of course) and expected an easy run with some other people. Boy, were we shocked when the group took off like bats out of hell. Wow. FAST pace. We were not expecting that at all, but we had to keep up to know the course. And damn, 6:40/mi pace for the first mile! My legs really weren't up for that. ha ha. Right at the first mile, though, all but one guy slowed way down and dropped back. Mike and I ended up following this guy, Chris, for the rest of the run. And Chris pushed the pace the whole time, and we never went over 7:00/mi the whole run. It wasn't hilly, but on a few inclines, I had to drop back. My quads were on fire, way too sore to push it. I think I was back a bit from Mike and Chris for the whole 3rd mile. I finally caught up, and we slowed a bit for the last 2 miles (even though it was still in the 6s). Finished up at Fat Belly's in 34:16, 6:46/mi pace for the run. Ha ha. So much for an easy pub run. I even snagged some Strava course records on that one. LOL. I changed clothes then met back up with the group upstairs at Fat Belly's. Mike and I had drinks and dinner together (we were the only ones eating). Everyone was really nice, but it was still weird not knowing anyone, so we hung out by ourselves. Since it was a bit of a drive back, we parted ways after dinner. I wish I could do more of the Portsmouth runs, but this might be it for me for a long time.

Wednesday- Boring day at work. Two 911s. Zero day to rest the legs some more. Up ALL night for a transfer (an actually critical one this time around, so I hauled ass to Maine Med). 1.5 hours of sleep. Pretty much sums up the 24.

Thursday- Right from the North Conway base to the Tamworth base for the usual 10 hour shift. Pretty slow down there, too, although we had a couple of calls early on. The lack of sleep hit me hard when we got back from the second 911. I attempted to nap, but I am just not a napper. I hate missing the day, so it's hard for me to sleep during it. I rested my eyes for hours, though. Once 5pm rolled around, I was out of there for a run. My Thursday night runs are usually tough, from the lack of sleep and heavy legs from all the sitting, but I always end up with a pretty fast run. I tend to hit the road on Thursdays because the speedier run really feels good after being so sedentary for almost 2 days.

I drove over to Chocorua Lake for a run on the road. This time I ventured down Old Paugus Mill Rd to the Bolles and Brook Trails. I only ran on the trails for a very short distance before turning around since I only wanted to run 10 miles. Just an out and back on a beautiful evening. 7:44/mi pace. Pretty decent pace. Slower than usual, but not by much. I think the trail portion is what made my average pace a little slower. I felt great, but really tired, when I was done.
View of Mt Chocorua from Fowlers Mill Rd
Friday- I slept in until 8am. I needed it after pretty much no sleep on Wednesday night. I had time to take it easy, so I had a cup of coffee on the deck before leaving for my run. I chose a loop run starting at the Thompson Rd trailhead in North Conway and took the Black Cap Connector Trail up to the top of Black Cap. This route is around 4 miles up, so it's a bit of a haul. My legs had just a bit of soreness and heaviness in them, but they felt ok. I definitely ran this loop a lot slower than the last time I did it in October, but that was to be expected with the legs not 100% recovered. It was another absolutely gorgeous day with a clear view from the top of Black Cap.
View of Mt Kearsarge North and Mt Washington from Black Cap Mt
I didn't stay at the top long since it was getting busy with hikers, so I headed down the Black Cap Trail until the Red Tail/Kettle Ridge Trail turnoff. I skipped turning on both of those trails and continued down the ridge until it came to the Cranmore service road. I ran up to the summit and then looped back to the service road, running it almost to the very bottom before turning on an unnamed mountain bike trail that I used to take John on when he was a toddler in 2007. This trail is actually a beast since it's a really steep climb that really hurts after all of the downhill. It connects back to the Black Cap Connector Trail for the run back to the trailhead. 10 miles with decent elevation gain of 2448 ft in just under 1:45:00. I felt good, but it had me a little worried about Loon, due to the legs still not recovered. But whatever. I knew I was taking a risk when I signed up for Whiteface that it might hurt me at Loon.

I picked John up from his dad (who was stuck at a trailhead with lost car keys) around 1:30pm. Grabbed the mail and had a nice surprise in there. My awards from the Vermont City Marathon. 4th woman overall and 2nd place in my age group. I had forgotten all about them. The key chain was promptly put on my keychain, and the pewter leaf was put with my stuffed mountain goat from Sleepy Hollow and my "Enchanted Bear" sign from 2014 Bretton Woods Race.

Awards from VCM

As soon as we came home, John went to play at a friend's house on the street, so I ended up stuck at home all day. I had really wanted to go to the lake, but I decided to put together my fire pit finally. My friend, Sol, had come by last Wednesday while I was at work to do my fire permit, so I decided it would be a good day to get that going. It's nothing fancy. Just a $40 fire pit from Home Depot with a bunch of logs for seats and a ghetto bench. :)

Phoenix made herself comfortable on the bench with me as I was setting it up.
I got the fire going after dark. It was so nice. John and his friend had moved back to our house, but they weren't interested in the fire, so I just enjoyed by myself. Gorgeous night. The stars came out. The fire was perfect. I have to post this pic I attempted because I look like deer in the headlights. ha ha.
I don't usually have the flash on. ha ha.
I think I was out there for almost 2 hours. It was so nice to finally have a fire in my yard. Anybody want to join me sometime? Let me know. I have lots of fancy log seating for you. And beers. And wine. And sparkling wine. And liquor, if you give me a heads up. I'm not much of a cook, so I'll order you a pizza from First Stop. :) Just don't dive into the pool. It has no water in it.

Saturday- I slept in again and had another lazy morning. Had my coffee, made John breakfast and then headed out for a very short run around the neighborhood. I just wanted to get something in and not take a zero, so I did 4 loops for 3.7 miles. Strava has my average pace at 8:41/mi even though every mile was under 8 min. Weird. Still on the slow side with about a 7:30/mi pace.

I showered quickly then we headed down the road to Conway Village for the 4th of July parade. We chatted with some people then made our way to Yazzi's Ice Cream. I had decided yesterday that I was having ice cream today. John and I both chose cotton candy ice cream. I love it. The parade was great. I especially love the end when all of the fire trucks and ambulances come through blasting sirens and horns all at the same time. It's so loud, but fun. John really enjoyed it.
John having ice cream during the parade

John sitting in my kayak after the parade. ha ha.
This afternoon, we went across the road to Coleman's and took an easy hike up B&M Ledge. I last did this hike with John back in mid-August of last year. He commented that it was so hard for him then but so easy for him now. He was right. What a difference. We brought all 3 dogs, but just as we were getting out of the car, someone starting shooting fireworks, and Spot, my old dog, jump right back in the car and refused to get out. She was terrified. I felt bad, but I had to leave her behind in the car. I'm glad it wasn't hot out or else I would have had to drive her home. The hike is only about 1.4 one-way, and it's an easy climb up to the ledge.

Chill looking out

Caught him before he could cover his face

John's photography attempt. ha ha.
 We hiked back to the car and headed into an eerily quiet town to go to the grocery store. Perfect timing since it was empty. I guess everyone was off having dinner or cookouts, whatever those things are that I'm never invited to. John and I decided to skip the fireworks tonight and hit the ones in Jackson tomorrow night instead. Neither one of us felt like going out again tonight.

Tomorrow morning is Loon. I'm normally super nervous, but not this year. I don't know what it will be like for me, especially with the new section only the men ran last year. I hear it's more my style of running, so maybe it will help me do better. I'm not sure. Loon has never been an easy race for me. The uphills are tough. I'm good on the downhills and LOVE the original finish with that steep downhill just beforehand. ha ha. I had a good race last year. Nothing special, but I was really happy with it. This year could be hit or miss. Just depends on how the legs feel and whether or not I blow myself up on the new section. It's always a challenge, and I love it. I'm not expecting to place high, so it's nice to have that pressure off of me, for sure. I will care more at Cranmore since it's a hometown course with my style of running. Up, down, Up, down. I just want to be happy with my race tomorrow. I don't like walking away from a race like I did Market Square. Crossing my fingers.

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