Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Bradbury Mountain Breaker Trail Race

Saturday- I had big plans with John to go pick blueberries on Foss Mt and then go to Storyland, but just as we were about to leave, John's friend came over and invited him to go swimming at his grandmother's pool. John decided to go with him, and I ended up with a second weekend in a row with time to take a run outside of the neighborhood! I ran a few errands (dump, grocery store) first, then picked up the dogs and drove to the Bolles Preserve in Chocorua. It was supposed to be a zero day since I wanted to be rested for the next day's race, but I wasn't missing an opportunity to run on a weekend. I opted for a shortened version of what I normally run. 4.5 trail miles at a really slow pace with the dogs. I came home with with about an hour to spare before John was supposed to come home, but he ended up not coming home until 7pm. So our day together was a wash. I had mixed feelings about it because I really wanted to do something with him, but I also wanted him to have fun with his friend, too. He is getting to the age where I have to start letting go like that a little bit, but I admit that it's hard, especially since he's all I have. He's my only family here, so it made the day a little lonely, but I had the dogs. Ha ha.

Sunday- I was up at 5:30am to get ready to head to Pownal, Maine for the Bradbury Mountain Breaker 9-mile trail race at Bradbury Mountain State Park. This would be my 5th year in a row doing this race, and it's the only race of the series that I do every year. The other two always seem to have conflicts, but I make it a point to make to the Mountain Breaker every year. I was first woman the first two years I ran it, 2011 and 2012, and 2nd woman, 2013 and 2014. Jennifer VanDongen usually schools me there, except in 2012 when she sprained her ankle and had to lope in (still 2nd woman). She held the CR after last year's race with a time of 1:15:52. My PR on the course was also last year in 1:18:04, so 2014 was a good year for both of us. In 2013, I sprained my ankle around mile 6, but still managed to finish in an ok time. The first year I did it (2011), I was sick as a dog with bronchitis, and the temps were in the upper 80s. I almost dropped after the first loop that year; I could barely breathe. I ended up having to slow way up for the second loop just to finish. Each of these 4 years had one thing in common. The HEAT. Sweltering. Every year. But this year, we lucked out with temps in the upper 60s. It was a dream come true. I was a little bummed to be missing the Grand Prix race in Rhode Island, but it was just too far, and Bradbury is one of my happy places.

John and I arrived at the park about an hour before the race start. He stayed in the car while I checked in and warmed up. Trail Monster Running, headed by Ian Parlin and Ryan Triffit, put these races on every year. They are a wonderful group of people who put a lot of heart and work into each race. Plus, they are all so nice. As is the tradition, the shirt is always unique, and every year, I say, "Best shirt ever!" I always assume they can't top it, but they always do. This year was no exception. Very clever.
2015 Race Shirt
I came back to the car to change into my shoes and talked to Gary Reuter for a few minutes before heading out. I just did an easy mile warm up loop up and over the top of Bradbury Mountain (which really wouldn't be mountain here; I live at the same elevation right around 500'. But over there it looks and feels like a mountain). John was still asleep when I got back to the car, so I got him up, grabbed his backpack and a lawn chair. I had decided the best place for him to be was right near the playground area aid station, so we walked up there. He sat in the lawn chair, and I made sure he was all set. I was going to see him twice during the race, so I was happy about that. He was content and put the chair back down to close his eyes again, so I left him to head to the starting line.

Once up there, I saw a lot of familiar faces. Jennifer VanDongen was there, but she lined up towards the middle of the pack. She's just coming off of an injury that had her out for months. She's been back running for about a month now, but I know she's not back to where she wants to be. I was still skeptical, since she is a great runner. I didn't see anybody else who looked like they could give me competition, so I scooted up to the front near Jeff Walker. I've raced Jeff quite a few times since 2011, and he usually beats me here at the Brad. I've beaten him twice in the last year at other races, so I decided I would try to stay with him for the beginning of the race if I could. I didn't know any of the other runners lined up except Blaine Moore, so I didn't know where I would match up among them. Ian and Ryan gave last minute race instructions, and then Ian stepped into the starting corral and sent us off and running.
I'm right up front next to Ian and Ryan.
Photo by Tammy
I went out fast like I always do here, and as soon as I entered the woods, I was right behind Jeff and two other guys. It was a bit crowded, so I kept trying to get around a few people so that I had a view of the trail. One guy kept getting right in front of me, but as soon as we hit the first hill, I blew past him. He passed me again on the next down, but on the next hill, I followed Jeff and went past that guy for the last time. I need space in front of me to see the trail, so I like to get into my place as soon as possible. Jeff was running strong, but I managed to keep up for maybe the first mile and a half. It wasn't long before things had thinned out and I knew that I was up in the top 10. The trail has some good climbs before it hits a decent downhill back to the parking area. At the bottom of this hill is where my right ankle gave out on me in 2013, resulting in a bad sprain. But in 2013, that was at mile 6 of the race. I hobbled but was able to finish the race. This year, my fear came true again. At the top of this very downhill, I came down from some boulders, and my right ankle gave out once again, along with that "popping" sound. I knew from the previous time, that it was bad. It was exactly the same as 2013 in almost the same place on the course, except that it was mile 2 this time. I had 7 to go!!! Based on my last experience, though, my ankle didn't start swelling until after I stopped running, so I just decided to continue on, as if nothing had happened. I hobbled for a little bit, got passed by two guys and then picked the pace back up just in time to start the first climb up the mountain. Tammy snagged a photo just as I neared the aid station. I was able to smile when I saw her, but in my head, all I could think of was the sprained ankle.
Photo by Tammy
I grabbed water at the aid station and looked over to see John sound asleep in his lawn chair. I smiled and moved on. The two guys in front of me started walking immediately on the climb. I heard one comment to the other about it making sense to walk instead of running up the mountain. Two seconds later, I passed them, and he laughed about how I was running. I always run up the mountain since I can, and I usually get a nice lead when I do, too. I spotted Jeff up ahead. He was also running. I made it to the top and got the Queen of the Mountain that I'd missed the last two years. I ended up losing the guys behind me and sight of Jeff. As per the usual at this race, I would end up alone for almost the entire next 5 miles. I have yet to run this race when I didn't spend a significant portion of it alone. I kept pushing on, though. I know the course like the back of my hand now and know that this is an easy section where I can just fly. My ankle wasn't bothering me, but I was aware of it and tried to be careful not to twist it again. After this quick section, there is a little climb followed by a decent downhill to finish the first loop. I came through in just over 35 minutes. I was pleased. I know I've never come through it in less than 38. I continued on. Passed John Rodrigue volunteering on the course and who cracked me up all 4 times I passed him since he was wearing an arrow like a bib. Great idea, but funny. I was definitely slower on the first part of the second loop since I had no one to race against, and I did not have fresh legs. I tried to keep it at a good race pace, though, since I tend to start daydreaming and slowing when I'm alone out there. I was a little more careful on the downhill where I sprained my ankle the first time around. Then round 2 of the climb up the mountain started. I passed the aid station again, and there was John STILL out cold in his lawn chair. I laughed and actually yelled out his name, but he was sound asleep and didn't budge. Ha ha. I ran all the way up the mountain again and pretty much ran the rest of the course much like the 1st loop. The only difference is the second loop has a different course to the finish that is a little longer than the course to end the first loop. By the time I hit the turn to head towards the finish, my ankle was really starting to hurt, and I had to take it a little bit easier and slower on the downhill than I normally would. When it came down to the flat trail that would lead to the finish, I looked at my watch and realized that I could hit my goal of a sub-1:15 if I pushed it, so I did. Just as I was nearing the turnoff to the field where the finish was, I heard fast footsteps behind me, and this guy came flying by me. I hadn't seen him once during the race, but he somehow managed to gain on me fast and came through the finish in 5th overall leaving me in 6th place overall with a time of 1:14:38, good for a new PR, by about 3.5 minutes, and the new women's CR, by over a minute (I didn't know this at the time; I looked up all of the results later). Race Results.
Coming into the finish while pulling a little "Marilyn Monroe".
Photo by Tammy
As soon as I finished, I grabbed some watermelon and a donut for John then made my way over to the EMTs. It was like deja vu grabbing a cold pack from them for my ankle. I think two of them were even the same ones who were there two years ago. Now that I had finished, the realization of the sprain was starting to hit me, as well as the pain. I made my way to John, who was still asleep, and sat down to remove my shoe and start icing. I had planned a 3-mile cool down run, but that was out of the question now. The ankle was starting to swell already, and it hurt to take my shoe off.
Reality that I'm injured is setting in
I woke up John and then we sat together for the next 20 minutes. It was kind of nice watching the runners who were still coming through. After I was done icing the ankle, I went to the car to change clothes. When I got back to John, we moved over to the start/finish are where the awards would be. We didn't hang out long before we were announced. This year we got a case of Baxter Brewing Co beer which was sweet. I picked out a Frontier Cafe gift cert, too, since I've had one from 2 years ago I have yet to use. They are only $25 each, so I've been waiting to get a second one so that I can have an actual real meal with them. The place is a little on the pricey side, and $25 wouldn't cut it. Now, I have $50 for John and me to use. I'm not sure he will appreciate the place like I will, though, but he's my only "date" these days. Ha ha.
My loot
John fell backwards in his chair. LOL.
After the awards, John played on the playground for a little while, then we headed south to Portland. I promised John a trip to Get Air, the trampoline place. I was shocked to find the place practically empty when we got there; I thought it would be packed, but no, it was a nice surprise. John spent an hour there, then we drove over to the Transportation center to pick up Mike Quintal, who had decided to take the train up from Mass. I was starving by this time, so we hit up Salvage BBQ near Maine Med. I drive past this place in the ambulance all the time and have wanted to try it. After living in Texas for 1.5 years, I'm very skeptical about any BBQ place, but this place was the real deal. Definitely top notch. I got a brisket sandwich, hush puppies and an Allagash White. So good.

We drove back to my house after that. The dogs needed to get out after being cooped up all day. Mike ended up playing fetch with them for a long time, and then for some reason, we started shooting hoops in the "basketball court" (formerly the cement bottomed pool) for at least an hour, but maybe longer. Probably not the best thing for my ankle, but it didn't bother me much at all. Then we drove Mike over to someone else's house to stay while he was up.

By the time John and I got back to the house, it was pretty late. I got John's laundry done and packed for his annual family trip to Truro on the Cape. It felt weird that I wasn't going. I've gone all but 2 years since 1999. That's 14 summers. Last year's trip to the Cape was the last week of my marriage and when certain things came to light that meant the end, so I've had some rough days lately. Old, awful feelings are unexpectedly coming back like it was yesterday, as well as some sadness that I'll never go to the Cape again. It's been hard seeing the family's posts on FB; I've been having to just scroll right by them. I'm glad John still gets to be a part of it, though. It is such a beautiful place. I had some great times there, but it's one of those things I had to let go of when I let go of my miserable marriage. All worth it in the end. I'll leave this with one of the last pictures of me at the Cape. Happy!
Leslie Beckwith happy at the Cape!


  1. Awesome race, Leslie! And good to see you! Hope the ankle shapes up quickly!

  2. Thanks, Danielle. Great to see you always. Good luck with your 100 mile training!