Monday, August 24, 2015

NH XC Festival

The NH XC Festival was, thankfully, an afternoon race, so I was able to sleep in until 9am. I normally hate sleeping that late, but I really needed to catch up on sleep. John and I hung around the house all morning. I took the dogs on a walk up Heavenly Hill, and then we made our way to Manchester around 12:30pm, since I wanted to get there early. We got to Derryfield Park right around 2:30pm. I was surprised to see such a nice looking place in Manchester, but Manchester has been surprising me lately with its good sides. I found a place in the park lot and went over to get my bib#. When I got back to my car, I started to see people showing up that I knew, including a decent group from the CMS men's team. I also noticed Whirlaway, Sisu and Millenium people that I recognized. It was kind of nice, since it made me feel more at ease. I was definitely out of my comfort zone here at a real XC race, so I was happy to see so many of the people I've gotten to know in the last year. It was like a mini Grand Prix race (it actually is a XC Grand Prix race, but I'm talking the big GP). Unfortunately, a few of my women teammates couldn't make it last minute, so I was the only CMS woman to show up for the open (an older CMS woman was there for the 60+ category). Since I knew I didn't have a team, I decided to wear my Level Renner singlet. I seriously almost wore the race shirt, though. I never do that, but I did consider it.

I got John's backpack together, and the two of us walked over to the finish line area near the gazebo. I saw the CMS men's team setting up their stuff right where I was planning to go. It was a nice, shady tree where John could hang out for the race. I talked to Todd Callahan, Matt Viega, Jim Pawlicki and Sam Wood a little bit before heading out on my warm up. I was going to do the whole course, but I decided not to do two loops around the park and just headed up where it looked like the race went. My first few steps were agony; my legs were REALLY heavy and tired. Oops. I hoped the warmup would help a little, though. I was trying to stay out of the way of the community race that was currently going on by taking a road and some other trails, but, somehow, I ended up back on the course backwards, going against the racers. I had to stop and step aside to let them pass a few times, since I didn't want to hinder their race. Then I started passing all of the teams warming up together on the course. I almost turned around to join the CMS guys, but they were going uphill, and I was done with that for the warmup. Ha ha. I made my way back to the finish area where John was. 2.1 miles was good enough for a warmup. I was starting to get a little nervous, since this was my first real XC meet since 1993. I didn't even know adults ran cross country until a few years ago, so this was all new to me. I didn't even know until yesterday that this was part of a whole Grand Prix XC Series. Totally out of the loop, but I have learned A LOT in the last year about all of this stuff. I still don't have a clue who many of the people are when names are dropped, but I'm learning. I was here for my 5th, and final, All-Terrain Series Race. I've been holding a strong second behind Kasie Enman, with third a good ways back (and still up in the air on who will get it). I didn't have to worry much about my performance, which was good, since I had no idea how I would do in 3-mile XC race. I don't typically run short, fast distance on trails, and I've been sucking lately at the short, fast distance on the roads, so I was in for a different experience. Plus, it was really hot out.

It was almost time for the start, so I made sure John was set and then ran down the hill to the starting line. I saw Abbey Wood and talked to her for a little bit. I also saw Amy Benard with her Whirlaway teammates and decided to line up behind them. Amy and I run pretty head-to-head at most distances, but I told her the day before after I did that long run, that I wouldn't be any competition at this XC race. The race started, and I moved quickly to get in front of anyone I thought might be slower than me. I caught Abbey Wood and stayed with her for almost the first mile. Amy, another Whirlaway teammate and a Six03 woman shot off way ahead, as did 4 of the other women. I didn't know this Six03 person, but she went out fast. I caught up to her after the initial hill, but as soon as she saw me, she sprinted ahead. We did this cat and mouse thing until about 3/4 mile. I could tell by her breathing that she was going way too fast for what she could maintain and passed her finally on the climb during the second loop around the park. Abbey and I stayed together until almost to the top of the first big climb, when I was able to pull away and focus on Amy and the other Whirlaway woman. They were both running really strong and had a good lead. When we got to the top of the final big hill, I put it in gear to try to catch them on the descent. Amy's teammate passed her and moved way out of my reach. Stupid me thought that the race came back into the park and went left right to the finish. I had no idea we did this zig-zag thing beforehand. I had gone all out on that downhill, which was not a good idea. I had caught up to Amy to where I could almost reach out and touch her, but my tank was on empty. I stayed as close to her as possible, but I just had nothing left to make a move before the finish and finished 2.2 seconds back from her to finish in 19:39 and 7th woman. It was a good race, though, and I was glad I had Amy there to try to catch, but she beat me in that one right from the start. I was actually really happy with my race. I might have done better had I not put myself through the ringer this week, but it doesn't matter. That was the race I ran. I gave it the full 100% effort I had available for the day, so who can ask for more than that.

I went to right to John who was still content by the tree. I grabbed him some pizza and then joined the CMS guys for a cool down on the whole course. It was nice to run it again at a much slower, talkable pace. Ha ha. It was nice to catch up with these guys since I hadn't seen some of them in over a month or so. 3 Greater Lowell guys ended up running behind us for a little while, as well. When we finished, I ended up with 9 miles on the day. I was happy with that. Almost everyone was gone at this point, so I grabbed my award, and then John and I drove over to Shaskeen Pub where the post-race free beer was.
My 3rd in age group award

John at Shaskeen and my free beer
I'm really starting to like Manchester. This was a cute little pub, and we were happy to grab an outside table. It was the perfect night for it. John wasn't hungry, but I had to eat something before driving home and got a sandwich. John ate most of the fries. We saw people we knew go into the pub, but no one joined us, which was ok, since I wanted to spend time alone with John. We had a good time, too.

The drive home wasn't bad at all; it seemed much shorter than last Thursday, even though it wasn't. When I pulled into the driveway, I was shocked to find a lawnmower sitting by my porch. There was a note on it that said, "Should work great!" And that's it.
Anonymous left me this mower and the zucchini 

Whoever brought it also left two homegrown zucchinis on my porch. I was in such shock. I couldn't believe someone did that for me... and anonymously! I have no idea who did it either. The note was written on a piece of generic mail addressed to "North Conway Resident", but I can't think of anyone who lives in North Conway who knows about my lawn mower story from Tuesday night. So I'm baffled. But whoever it was is very nice. People can be so kind sometimes, and I'm not sure I even deserve a nice gesture like this, but I really do appreciate it.

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