Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Lone Gull 10K

I've really been slacking on my blog posts for the past week and a half. Oops. So I'm finally getting to my Lone Gull post. I'll probably leave out some things since I've already forgotten a lot of it, but I'll do my best. All of my races have been running together in my head so much that I can't even remember what races I've run and when. Someone asked me what I had raced recently, and I responded, "I don't know." Maybe that's a sign I've been racing too much. Haha.

The day before Lone Gull, I took a zero day so that I could rest the legs a bit. I had taken it easy during the week, but I was still feeling the prior weekend's double races. Instead of  a run, John and I went to Cranmore for the Jen's Friends Hill Climb Against Cancer. It's basically a hike up to the top of Mt Cranmore to raise money for this charity that provides financial assistance to local people with cancer. This would be our third time doing this hike, but this time we joined our neighbor's team. Our neighbor's son just happens to be John's best friend, so I ended up hiking with the two of them, plus another friend of theirs. This was the first time John was able to hike up easily and not even stop, and he had so much fun getting to be with his friends. This was also the first time his dad and I had been at the same event in I don't even know how long. Years!! His dad was there with his job, but he was still able to see John some; I think John enjoyed having us both there, even if we weren't hanging out together at all. And his dad and I were actually civil to each other for the first time face-to-face in over a year, so that was good for John, too.
The boys and me at the top of the Hill Climb

On the way up. At least 2 out of 3 liked it.

The 3 boys walking together

I wasn't "allowed" to share the lift with the boys on the way down, so I had one all to myself. Haha.
 John ended up having "the best day ever", since he was able to go with his friends afterwards to the pool. I spent the time going to down to Bolles Preserve to walk the dogs and then over to the Sandwich Spring to fill up the water jugs.
Heron Pond in the Bolles Preserve

Sitting by Chocorua Lake in the Bolles Preserve

John came home just before dark, so that was it for our day. We had to get up at 4am the next morning to head to Gloucester, so I didn't stay up too late.

It was tough getting up so early and making the 2.5 hour drive to Gloucester, Ma for the Lone Gull 10K, but it was the last USATF-NE Grand Prix race, so I was looking forward to it. The sunrise on the way down was just gorgeous. Plus, I was pretty excited to be going back to Gloucester for the first time since 2007. I house/dog sat there for 3.5 weeks when John was just over a year old and loved it there. The people of Gloucester were so nice, so I was excited to be going back to this beautiful place while also running with a full team of CMS ladies for the first time really since New Bedford. I was NOT excited, however, when I stepped out of my car at the service plaza on 128 to find the air disgustingly humid and warm!! What?! I looked on my phone. 87% humidity!WTF. No!!!! This was not supposed to be like this. My nemesis, my arch enemy was rearing its ugly head. Damn humidity!!! I thought for sure the PR I was hoping for would be out the window. But, oh well. It really wasn't a huge deal. I knew I wouldn't be competitive today, especially after my 10K fails over the summer, but I had really hoped for a cool, crisp day. That was definitely not in the cards, but I knew I would still go out and give it my best.

John and I got to my teammate, Jenn Brook's, house to drop off John with her family and then ride together over to the start. Jenn's husband and parents would be bringing Jenn's kids and John over to watch the race. This was a huge help for me since I didn't have anyone else around to help out. Jenn and I got down to the race site about an hour before race start. We couldn't find any other teammates, so we warmed up together. The air was gross. Warm and sticky. I was pouring in sweat right off the bat. The only thing that brought relief was the cloud cover. As we warmed up we saw a lot of the usual people. It was so cool to see these people whom I've come to know or at least put faces to names over the last 9 months. It almost feels like its own small town, and I was happy to see everyone and a little sad knowing it was the last GP of the year. Jenn and I happened to spot Apryl Sabadosa at her hotel room and made a quick pit stop there to say hi and use her bathroom. We started to run out of time and only ran 2.2 miles.

John and Jenn's family had arrived so I got to see John once more before the start. We finally caught up with our teammates and got together at the start. It seemed like forever before they started, and I was so ready to get the show on the road. The air in the crowd of runners was thick, so it was time to break free. We were all standing there talking when the race just kind of started out of the blue. We never heard anything; people just started running, so we did, too. Unfortunately, we had started kind of far back in the line of women, so I now had to make my way through the tight crowd. The people I wanted to either be with or ahead of were way too far from me at the start. I went out stupidly fast, too. I shouldn't even write this in my blog anymore because it's pretty much par for the course for me. It is just understood that I will go out stupidly fast in every road race. I won't stop either. I will keep doing it, say how stupid or smart it was and then get on with how much slower the second mile was. Haha. But I hate crowds and by mile 1, I want to be where I want to be. So needless to say, I flew out, caught my teammate, Regina Loiacano, passed her. Then proceeded to pass Amy Benard who yelled out a "good job", I think. I responded with, "Thanks, but I'm going out way too fast." Amy responded in agreement with that, and I laughed, but kept going. I didn't care if I was fucking things up; I just wanted to go all out. I also passed Christin Doneski and said a quick hi. Hit the first mile in a ridiculous 5:45 split. Although, it was downhill, so it's not really THAT bad. Regina caught back up to me quickly, and I decided to try to stay with her as long as possible. We passed a few more Whirlaway ladies and kept at it. By mile 2 (6:09 pace; so much slower than mile 1! Haha), I had to turn to Regina and ask her if the whole course was this easy. She said yes, except for the one hill around mile 3.5. Easy enough. I was feeling good and just kept up with Regina. We caught a Greater Boston woman, who I would end up running with almost the entire rest of the race until she got ahead at the end. Mile 3 was a little faster at 6:01/mi, and I was starting to wonder why I was running this so much faster than the other 10Ks since the weather sucked balls; I think it was just the speed of the crowd and trying to hang with Regina. I tried to stay with her as long as I could, but the woman is unbelievable on uphill roads, so she pulled away on the climb. I managed to keep a close gap, though, so that she could pull me along the rest of the way. After the climb, the course loops back, and this is when the air was absolutely stifling. Like a sauna. No breeze. Nothing. I was hurting all of sudden. The people around me were hurting, too, and I was surprised to catch up to Sam Wood; he's been running really well all summer, but this race had him cooked early. We ran together for a short distance before he picked up the pace and moved ahead briefly. I wasn't surprised to hit mile 4 in 6:20. The hill and the air slowed me a bit, but all I could think of at this point was how damn easy this course was. Other than the one hill, to me, it was flat. I think that's why I was running it so much faster than the previous 10Ks. Still, the humidity was killing me, and then the sun came out. I actually looked up and called it a "fucking bastard" out loud. haha. I hit mile 5 in 6:11. Then came the head wind for the last mile. Even though, it probably slowed me down a bit (6:19 for mile 6), it was a welcome relief. I was a hurting puppy, though, and was passed by two women (Christine Shaw and Maria Servant). Maria had already passed me earlier, and I managed to get ahead of her again briefly. We would end up crossing the finish line with her just ahead of me in the same gun time of 38:33. Funny, though. My chip time would end up being 38:27 and hers 38:28. Gun time is what matters, but I thought that was interesting. I also finished 13th woman! A PR and 13th were a HUGE surprise to me. I didn't expect to even hit top 20 in this race, and I definitely didn't expect to PR by 50 seconds, either. I don't consider myself a good 10Ker, especially not in this weather, but I think it was just a fast course that I could run well on despite the not ideal conditions. Results.
Not a great photo, but I'm in there somewhere.
 It was great to see all of my teammates come in. After Regina and me, Jenn Brooks, Layce Alves and Melissa Donais rounded out our open team scorers. We would end up placing 6th as a team. This was Layce's first race back from injury since New Bedford, and Melissa was sick, so I think we have a good potential to move up a bit as a team next year when/if everyone is healthy. We caught up with John and Jenn's family. I gave John some popsicles and then headed out on a short 1.6 mile cool down with Regina, Jenn and Layce. Jenn had her son's soccer game to go to right after, so we didn't hang around long for the post-race stuff.

John and I went back to Jenn's house where I got cleaned up to go meet Regina at Mile Marker One at Cape Ann Marina. She had her boys with her, as well, so John swam with them in the pool while Regina and I had drinks and lunch. It was a really nice time. Regina is such a cool person, and I enjoyed spending time catching up with her. I think we were there for over 3 hours!
John and Regina's son in the hot tub

John at the marina
We finally had to say goodbye and head home. The dogs needed to be taken care of, so, even though John was all done for the day (after swimming for almost 3 hours straight!), I took the dogs up Heavenly Hill just before the sun set.
Chill on Heavenly Hill

Sun just about to set behind Chocorua
John declared this weekend to be "the best weekend ever", and I had to concur that it was a damn good weekend.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Week 9/14-9/18/15

I'll admit to being completely beaten down after the weekend's racing. Just total junk. Although I felt great during the Kismet Cliff Run, I was so done after it was over. I knew this week would be short, easy miles.

Monday-  Work was super quiet, but 3 out of the 4 of us had a really good time. I think I laughed almost all day long. The 4th guy was a fill-in for our usual 4th crew member, and while I feel badly saying this, he just does not fit in. I was happy to have the two there to keep a slow day sane with the hysterics.
60A4. My Monday truck.
This was going to be a zero day, but I owed someone some Strava art, so it forced me out on an easy run with Spot in the Albany Town Forest after work. This happens to be one of the very few places where I can get absolutely no elevation gain around here. Pretty much the Valley floor by the Swift River. It felt great to take an easy run around the trails. When I got to the soccer fields behind Kennett Middle School, I ran all over the place (while confusing two teenagers out practicing goal shots) creating what I hoped would be the Strava art that I intended. It came out almost perfectly. :) And it ended up being a mile! 5.2 miles in 43:34. So super easy. Sometimes, these are the best runs.

Tuesday- Slept in until 7:30am. I was really slow to get moving, but since I was just doing a road run from home, it didn't matter. I decided to do the road loop up and over Bald Hill Rd then back to the Kancamagus Highway to Rt 16 and back home. Although I was still feeling very fatigued in the legs, I ran it at a decent pace. 10 miles at 7:32/mi. 797 ft of elevation gain. It definitely helped having cooler weather since I am significantly affected by the hot, humid weather.

John came home shortly thereafter. It was such a beautiful day, so I decided a hike up Burnt Meadow Mt in Brownfield, Maine was in order. John would disagree with my decision, but he ended up enjoying himself... on the way down. :) It was definitely hot for the climb up, but it's only 1.2 miles, so he didn't "suffer" for too long. Haha. Phoenix and Spot joined us for this one. The last two times I have been on this mountain, my life significantly changed two days later. Fortunately, that trend has passed, and it was just another hike in a beautiful place. 85% of the town of Brownfield burned in a huge forest fire in 1947, and a ski resort at Burnt Meadow Mountain was proposed to help the town build itself back up. BMM Zodiac Skiway didn't open until 1971 and only lasted until 1982 when it lost too much money and ended up closing. The Conway Daily Sun had a good write-up about the fire in 2013: Remembering the Brownfield Fire of '47.


He wasn't actually enjoying the view. He was turning away from the camera being Mr. Complains-a-lot. :)

Glad he didn't know I was taking this one. Haha.
John did a lot of lying down on the trail and the summit for this hike, but he still seemed to enjoy himself on the way down. In fact, he ran down it, as usual.

From there, we drove to his ninja class at Saco Valley Gymnastics. I caught up with some friends there, so it ended up being a good day for both of us.

Wednesday- I reluctantly woke up at 4:40am for a treadmill run and almost bagged it. Thankfully, I didn't. It ended up being a really good run. I felt great right from the start and ran much faster than than the two previous treadmill runs. 5 miles at a 7:05/mile pace. I was glad I forced myself to get this run in since it was another super slow day at work. It's just that time of year. In a few weeks, we'll be picking up British people daily. No lie. It is the freakin' British invasion during Fall foliage. And they tend to cause a lot of car accidents (no surprise there). So, we're not complaining. We ended up only doing one call for the entire 24 hour shift. Both of us actually woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't sleep. I think we're so used to being up most of Wednesday night that our brains were confused. Haha.

Thursday- It was the usual. Drive from the North Conway base at 7am to the Tamworth base for a 10 hour shift. This would turn out to be my last shift with Sol, and we had ZERO calls. Talk about a boring week! Sol is leaving for a new job which is great for him, but now, who will I be stuck with?! If it's the misfit from Monday, I will not be a happy camper. I'll deal, I guess. Sol also worked a 24 the day before at Conway Fire; they didn't have any overnight calls either, but we were both dead tired. We did spend a few hours getting our truck in order and cleaning the house, but then it was couch time after that. Around 3pm, we both got up and decided to head out for coffee... which turned into ice cream at the Rt 16 Dairy Bar. Sol ordered the Mint Chocolate Chip, but after eating half of it, he told me that half of the chips were not chocolate. That's when I informed him that we were in Ossipee and that he probably just ordered the Mint Chocolate Trip ice cream. Haha. Pretty funny stuff. Our afternoon wasn't complete without a drive through the backwoods (Effingham) and then back to the base. Lots of laughs. I'll miss working with him, but I do wish him the best in his new adventure.

After work. I drove over to Tamworth Village for a loop run starting at Cleveland Hill Rd by Remick Farm. I had never run this loop, but I had done all of the roads and thought it would be somewhere between 8-10 miles. I ended up with 10.3 which was perfect. I ran up Brown Hill Rd to Pease Hill Rd to Great Hill Rd and back to my car for a complete loop. Very beautiful evening after the temperature dropped to something reasonable for September. 10.3 miles 7:51/mi pace. 794ft of elevation gain. Quiet run. I only saw two cars.
Remick Farm at the end of my run
Friday- My day to sleep in. I couldn't get out of bed until after 8am, but it was fine. I had until 3pm, so I could take it easy. I had coffee and then took some time deciding where to go. I pulled out my map and finally narrowed it down to the Hancocks off the Kanc. I've been wanting to keep the miles low this week, so this seemed perfect.

Spot joined me for this one since I could tell there would be plenty of water for her along the way. She was so excited to be coming along that she ran outside and sat by the car ready to go. We got going a little after 10am which would be perfect timing to get back and pick up John. Like all of my runs this week, I just went easy. The trail is pretty flat(ish) for the first 1.8 miles, but then starts to ascend gently once I veered off the Hancock Notch Trail. The trail was very nice since it followed the brook up until the fork for North and South Hancock. I chose to go counter-clockwise and hit South Hancock first. The climb was steep, but only half a mile. It has a wooded summit, but there was a nice outlook just below it that I ended up stopping at for awhile.
Overlook on South Hancock Mt.
From there, the trail follows along the ridge for 1.4 miles to North Hancock. Although, it's mostly viewless, I really enjoyed this part of the run the most. It was beautiful in the trees. The trail descended gently then climbed back up to North Hancock. Another viewless summit, but it had a fantastic overlook just beyond it. I also stopped here for awhile.
North Hancock Mt. Looks like I just photoshopped myself into this one from the South Hancock pic.
The descent from the summit was pretty loose footing and fairly steep, but it was also short at .7 miles. I was quickly back on the trail I had come up and ran back the way I came to the trailhead on the Kanc. I only saw one other person on my way down. Spot was happy to see the brooks to cool off in.
Spot in a brook
The run ended up being 9 miles even. The guidebook said it was 9.8, so I'm not sure which one is wrong. Mine could be off by .1 or .2, but I don't think it's as far off as .8. My moving time was 2:20:07. Nothing speedy. Just a fun run in the mountains. 2,791ft of elevation gain.

From there, I went straight to Tin Mountain the back way to avoid Reach the Beach Traffic and waited until John's homeschool group was over. From there, we made a trip over to Fryeburg and then back home for the evening. Saturday's plan is the Jen's Friends Hill Climb at Cranmore and then I don't know what else. I do know that I'm taking it easy in preparation for Sunday's last Grand Prix race of the year at Lone Gull 10K in Gloucester, Ma. Looking forward to it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Kismet Cliff Run 2015

Even though the Kismet Cliff Run is a local race that starts at 10am, I still had to wake up fairly early Sunday morning to get my things together and then drive John up to my friend, Jen's, house in Bartlett. She was originally going to take John to Storyland, along with her daughter, while I raced. John and I have season passes, so it wouldn't have cost her anything, and it seemed like a good way for him to pass the time while I ran. Plus, it was a HUGE help for me not having to worry about John during such a long race.The rain thwarted the Storyland plans, but he still had a great time with her. Help is very limited, so I was extremely thankful for it. And Jen is someone who understands the need for help; she's been in my shoes for years. John really enjoys hanging with Jen, and she enjoys hanging out with him because he's so easy and laid back (usually! haha!).

After dropping John off, I drove back down to Echo Lake in North Conway. The rainy weather was definitely NOT ideal for this race, but I've raced it in similar conditions before, so I was prepared. In fact, I've run this race and do regular runs on these trails enough, that I know it almost like the back of my hand. I hardly have think about where I'm stepping... except the descent on North Moat. That is brutal no matter how many times you've done it, and, today, would be some of the worst conditions for it. My legs were VERY tired; my quad muscles were literally twitching from fatigue and sore. To be honest, I was actually surprised by this. I've been doing enough of these fast, short road races lately that I didn't think I would be sore, but, man, my legs were in rough shape. I couldn't believe I was about to put them through a 13-mile mountain race, but I was, so I tried to stop thinking about it. What I was focusing on was that I didn't need to go out and kill myself on the course this year. I wasn't expecting to break my course record (2:42:09) with the conditions and my fatigued legs, so that helped ease my mind. I was really out there because I love this race, and it's something I enjoy doing every year. This would be my 6th year! (I missed the inaugural year; I was still living in California.) I ran the 5-mile race in 2010 and 2011 and still hold the women's record on that course, too, in 51:42. Race director, Gabriel Flanders, was able to land a permit for the Beast of the East (long course) for the 2012 race, which is a feat in and of itself. Most of the race is in the White Mountain National Forest, and Gabe is probably the only one to ever receive the golden permit for a race through it. So this year would mark my 4th year doing the long course. I've finished first woman 3 out of the 4 times (Kelsey Allen beat me in 2013). So, anyway, this race has become a tradition for me, and so my place/time didn't really matter to me as much as just being out there doing it. BUT there was one little thing that made me REALLY want to win the race. The award. NEW SHOES. I have won La Sportiva shoes at this race 4 times prior (no shoe award at all in 2014). La Sportiva's are my go-to trail running shoe, but all three pairs I was currently using were down to minimal tread. Even the ones I had on for today's race were nearly treadless. Ha ha. I really needed a new pair of La Sportiva's, and eBay had been giving me nothing for months. I almost paid full-price for a new pair, but I decided to wait until after Kismet before I went that route. So, yeah, even though I really wasn't concerned about my time or place too much, I will admit to totally wanting to win for the shoes. :)

As soon as I arrived, I checked in, said hi to Gabe and some of the volunteers I know. I saw a lot of racers I didn't recognize, but then some of the usuals showed up. Tristan Williams was there. I think Tristan has won the race the last 3 years. This is his thing, so I knew he had the win before the race even started. Andy Drummond was also there with Squall; I knew he would do really well since he's been killing it this year. He is just as crazy as me, maybe even crazier. He had raced a triathlon the day before; that's a hell of a lot more than a measly 5-mile race. Squall would end up with a DNF. Don't worry, Squall, we've all been there. :) Ryan Welts and Kristina Folcik showed up. Ryan was the only one of the two racing today. My friend, Kim Proulx, was out there, too, for her first time doing this race. She was nervous, but I knew she would finish it ok. (At least, I hoped so, since I was the one who encouraged her to do it!!) I was shocked to see Ryan Kelly and Amber Ferreira there. It didn't seem like their kind of terrain, but Amber is good at EVERYTHING, and I have never beaten her once. I figured right off the bat that she had the race in the bag and resigned myself to second place before the race even started. (Pout, no new shoes. ha ha.)

I went back to my car to get ready for a warm up and had a racer approach me to tell me he reads my blog and that he had only recently gotten into trail running. He seemed super excited about the race, so that was cool. (Nice to meet you, if you're reading this. I hope you had a good race!) I was curious as to how my legs would feel running since they felt heavy and sore just walking, so I ran a very short 3/4 of a mile around Echo Lake to confirm that, yes, they were very sore and heavy. Fuck. haha. I was starting to think I should have signed up for the 5-mile, but that would have just been weak.

I quickly went back to the car to grab my race pack and headed to the start. Someone else (Ewa Johnson) approached me down there to say that she had stumbled across my blog the day before and enjoyed reading it. I honestly didn't think that many people read my blog besides my new nudist/porn following, so it was kind of cool to have two people approach me about it at such a small race. Gone are the days when I was incognito and could just blend in with the crowd, race, then disappear. I guess it's been a good thing, and I've enjoyed it, but I am definitely still getting used to it.

Gabe gave his usual pre-race speech, we lined up and he gave the starting words. Off we went. I was immediately running with Ryan Welts at a nice easy pace. We were chatting when John Lamneck, another local that I've known for a few years, caught up and joined in the conversation. Then Marcelo Maiorano, another local who's been following me on Strava, also caught up and introduced himself. It was kind of nice taking it slow and chatting with these guys for the first mile. It kept us all from going out too fast while the course was easy.

We finally hit the only paved portion of the course (Cathedral Ledge Rd) and started to spread out. Ryan went on ahead, and Marcelo and John fell behind me. It's only about 200 yards on the road before it takes a sharp turn to go up the climber's trail. It's steep as hell, but I ran the first quarter of it. I was then passed by Amber like I was standing still. She flew up the trail ahead of me, nearly catching Ryan. That climb up Cathedral is steep, but it's also fairly short. We passed through the water stop and then hit the first downhill of the day. I could tell this was definitely not Amber's forte because I was able to catch her and pass her within seconds. We were both laughing. I told her I would see her again in a few minutes on the next climb. I was able to get a little bit of a lead, but she still caught me about halfway up the climb on Whitehorse Ledge. She disappeared so fast that I couldn't even see her up ahead. That's when I thought, "Dammit. I need those new shoes!" Haha.

The climb up Whitehorse is a little more gradual, but longer, so it actually seems to hurt more. I got to the top and started down the back side. Amber was nowhere in sight, but I quickly caught up to her at the top of the Red Ridge Link and passed her. I could tell the technical trail was giving her trouble, but she was still laughing and seemed in good spirits. Technical downs are something I'm really good at, so I knew I could make a huge gain on her here so I went ALL OUT. It's a lengthy descent, so I wanted to get as much of a lead as possible before the LONG climb up Red Ridge and North Moat Mt. I started to think about the course at this point and her skill level on the downhill and realized that if I could hold her off long enough on the climb, that even if she passed me, I would be able to pass her again on the run down North Moat and gain enough of a lead to stay ahead for the final climb, bust out the downhill back to Echo Lake and win. So much for not caring how I placed. :) I was all over my strategy to take the win. I started to feel like the paperboy in Better Off Dead who was obsessed with the two dollars. I wanted those damn shoes, and unlike the paperboy, I was going to succeed! :) Yeah, um, so, I guess I got a little competitive after all.

At the Forest Service Rd, the descent ended, and the real climbing began. As much as my legs felt like junk before the race, I actually felt really strong and ran at a decent pace up the Red Ridge Trail. I had to walk only very small portions of the climb up to Middle Moat. The trail was super slippery, and the rain started to pick up as we ascended into the cloud. The cool temperature definitely helped. I caught up immediately with another racer. I never actually passed him, but stayed with him until the descent down North Moat. He was the last racer I would see on the course. I didn't think this would be the case since I knew Amber must be gaining on me on the climb, but every time I looked back, nothing. She never appeared. I thought that maybe this technical uphill might have been challenging for her, but I still kept expecting her to catch me. But, no. I got to the ridge and the Moat Mountain Trail, and still no Amber. I wasn't letting my guard down yet, so I continued to push it to the top of North Moat. By the time I got up there, it was raining, cold and windy. I didn't even look up as I made my way past the summit. Water was pouring in my eyes. At this point, I knew I was going to win. If she hadn't caught me at this point, she wasn't going to. I was extremely relieved by this because it meant I wasn't racing anyone down North Moat and could take it carefully. With the fatigued legs, I knew I was more likely to make a mistake and fall, so I just slowed down and paid attention to every step. I even sat on my butt and slid down many of the rock slabs. It was a LONG descent at this slow pace, but I didn't care, and soon enough, I could see the bottom of the trail at the brook.

The course takes a sharp right onto the Attitash Trail and gradually descends for close to two miles. I was able to fly on this all the way to the brook crossing to get back on the Red Ridge Trail. Two volunteers were there with water, so I decided to stop and drink a full cup. I had just been thinking of taking my own water out, but this saved me the hassle. We exchanged a few words on La Sportiva shoes (which I knew I was now winning a new pair of !!). I handed him my empty cup, thanked him and moved on up the trail. This climb up is also long but gradual, and I was able to move up it quickly back to the Red Ridge Link. It turns left for a much steeper half mile climb back up to the Bryce Path on Whitehorse Ledge. Two years ago, I walked almost this entire half mile. I ran the whole thing last year and again this year. This stuff seems to get easier and easier for me (excluding Mt Washington, of course). Back on the Bryce Path, the trail is almost all downhill, with the exception of two very short climbs, back to the finish, so, once again, I busted it out. I always have here, no matter how tired I have felt. Funny enough, I didn't feel tired at all. I made it back to Echo Lake to finish 1st woman in 2:50:40. It was 8 minutes slower than last year, but I was actually really surprised to only be 8 minutes off. Not bad at all, and better than I expected.

I hung out for awhile after I changed clothes to talk to Gabe, Tristan, Andy, Ryan and Kristina. I learned that Amber had twisted her ankle somewhere along the way and that Ryan Kelly had gotten lost early on. He had found Amber and they were both walking out to Diana's Bath to get picked up. Now, I know why Amber never caught me. I haven't heard the outcome on the ankle, but, hopefully, it's only minor and won't hurt her training at all. This race is hard and can beat you up. This is the first time that I haven't fallen during it at some point. Scrapes, bruises and blood are the norm. I'm impressed she came out to try it, and who knows, maybe she would have caught me or at least finished pretty close if she hadn't gotten hurt.

I didn't stay long enough to watch everyone finish, but my friend, Kim, finished third woman after a very tough race. She ended up bonking hard around mile 10 and had to sit down for awhile. She said it was one of the hardest things she's ever done, and I believe it because I think I said the same thing after my first Beast of the East. It seems "easy" to me now, but it has taken years of training to get to this point.
Kismet Cliff Run Awards
I left Echo Lake very happy to be holding my La Sportiva shoe gift certificate. Haha. It was the highlight of my day. :) I met John and Jen at Hannaford, then we went right over to Starbucks. I needed a venti coffee yesterday. John got a frappacino. As soon as we pulled in the driveway, the fatigue really hit me. I even paid John to take all three dogs on a walk so I didn't have to. The rain really started coming down and never let up the rest of the day which gave me a good excuse to be lazy. John was happy finally getting to play his video games, so we both acted like slugs until bed time. I was spent. I could feel it more  than I had felt in awhile. I needed to slow it down this coming week. With Lone Gull and the VT50 coming up, it might time to cut some of the mileage back for the next two weeks. That's the plan, at least.

Fox Point Sunset 5 Mile Road Race 2015

The Fox Point 5-mile race was on Saturday evening down in Newington, NH. It was kind of nice to sleep in and take it easy on Saturday morning, but I'm still not a huge fan of these evening races. I haven't done exceptionally well in any of them this year. A lot of the previous ones could also be due to the heat and humidity, but I really don't think I run my best in the evening no matter what the weather. In fact, I rarely ever used to run in the evening, so it's taken some getting used to over the last year. I'm just tired at that time of day, so having to push myself in a race is the last thing I want to do. Nonetheless, I had to do Fox Point to count for the Seacoast Series, so I was going down there no matter what. I had two races left to complete for the Series, and I can't do the last one (Great Bay 5K), so it was a done deal. No backing out, even though I will admit to dreading the weekend a little bit. Not only did I "have" to do Fox Point, I also "had" to do the Kismet Cliff Run the following morning (only 17 hours in between the races). I never miss Kismet, so that was also a done deal. I was happy to have Fox Point first, though, because that was the one I needed to be the most fresh in if I wanted to finish first woman.

John and I headed down around 2:30pm to get there early enough for the Kids' 1-mile race I signed him up for. As always, he fell asleep for most of the ride down, so when we got there, he was grumpy and said he was not doing the kids race. I told him that was fine but that he still had to get out of the car and come up to the finish area; he couldn't hang out in the car during the race. I gave him some time to wake up and stay in the car while I walked up to the registration area to pick up our bibs and shirts. I ran into Melissa Donais and Nate Jenkins, so I talked with them for a few minutes. It was nice to see them so much less stressed than they had been at York Days; they're starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel with all of their home buying/selling mess, and you can definitely see the difference. They seem way more relaxed, and I'm happy for them.

I went back to the car to grab my stuff and John, who still said, "I am not running in that race." Ok, fine by me. Two minutes later, as we're walking back up to the finish area: "I changed my mind. I think I want to do that race now." ha ha. I don't know what changed his mind, but it was nice to see the turnaround. We didn't have too much time once we got up there. He wanted me to run the race with him, so I had to quickly put myself together. I never show up at a race ready to go. The kids race ended up being loops around a big field out back. The kids were told they could choose how many laps (1 to 4) they wanted to do. I'll admit that I thought he would choose one and be done, but he said that he wanted to do all 4 to finish the full mile. I was shocked, but still unsure whether he would change his mind mid-race, but it didn't matter. He was out there because he wanted to be, and that's all that mattered. The kids race began, and John shot off like a rocket. It literally took me almost the first lap to catch him; I was thinking, "This is way faster of a warm up than I wanted to do." I finally caught him as he slowed. He passed through lap 1 and kept going. Same for 2 and 3. I was shocked. And he was telling me that he was trying to hold a steady pace. Very cool. By lap 4, he told me he was getting tired and his throat was burning, but he just kept running. I mentioned sprinting through the finish, and he said he was already planning that, and sure enough, about 20 yards before the line, he kicked it in gear and sprinted through the finish in 10:10. It was awesome. I started talking to him about how he started off really fast and how I couldn't catch him, blah, blah, blah. He said that he had planned it that way, to start off fast, slow it down to a comfortable pace and then sprint through the finish. It was awesome. He actually had a race strategy! That was more well thought out than anything I ever do! :) Maybe he will get into running some day? I don't know. Maybe not, but it was still cool to see him out there going from grumpy head to smiling and pushing himself hard.
He wasn't too thrilled about the race yet.

Lap 2. Good sign if he smiles for the camera.

Serious business

Blurry as we ran.

Lap 4

Done! Popsicle in hand.
John and I walked back over to where we had set up "camp". He sat in his lawn chair, and I went out for another very short warm up. I didn't have a lot of time left, so I just settled on another mile. Despite it being cooler and drier, it was still too hot and humid for my preference. I was informed by many people that the year before was extremely hot and humid, so I tried to keep my this-is-way-too-hot thoughts to myself. Ha ha.

At the start, I chatted with Melissa and Jessica LaFleur and some other people I knew. It was a nice group of people. The Stoneface Brewing Co guys tried to recruit some of us from Six03, but we told them, "Not without free beer." They were cool and had a really decent-sized group out there racing. I eyed the crowd a little bit, and other than Melissa and Jessica, I saw no one who looked like competition. I knew someone could be hiding, but I didn't think so, so I decided before we even started that I was going to win this one. My next goal would be a sub-31.

After the National Anthem by a very cute crowd of kids, the race started. It immediately starts on an uphill, which was probably a good thing. I went out fast, just like John haha, but the hill probably helped me from going out too fast. It was a pretty short hill before it descended down the other side, and I waved over at John, who waved back as I passed by. I felt surprisingly good and just kept cranking it out. My first mile split was right where I wanted it to be right around 6 even. The race continued downhill for awhile and then took a sharp left onto a bike path. I took a look back and saw Melissa way too close for comfort, so I picked up the pace in hope of dropping her a little more to my comfort level. Strava is off a bit; my second mile was 5:55. I didn't take a look back again until mile 4.5. For some reason, I just felt pretty confident that I had a decent lead. I came through the 5k mark in 18:53. I was happy with that, but I knew I had two decent climbs up ahead for the last two miles. They're nothing compared to what I'm used to, but I had a feeling they could slow me just enough to not meet my goal of a sub-31. I started adding up time in my head and realized it would be REALLY close, and sure enough, the hills really slowed me down on both miles. 6:22 and 6:29 splits. OUCH. I felt like I was moving faster than I was, but when I turned for the final stretch on the last hill (the same hill we started on), I had a bad feeling. The clock came into view, and yep. There it was ticking away just under 31. I tried to push harder, just focusing on the clock. So close! But then it moved on past 30:59. I didn't make it. It said 31:06 when I crossed. My chip time ended up being 31:04. SO FREAKIN' CLOSE. Ugh. I'll admit I was disappointed. This explains why I'm not smiling in my finish photo. I came through 11th overall and 1st woman.
Not quite hitting my goal time. Yes, those are supposed to look like denim shorts, but they are in fact running shorts made my Ink'n Burn.
This race probably sealed the deal on my Seacoast Series win, unless something crazy happens or I'm injured and can't do the Great Island 5K. But that hopefully won't happen. I'm really looking forward to Great Island and finishing out the Seacoast Series. I had no plans to even do it, but I'm really glad I did. I've met a new crowd of people and gotten to know the Seacoast a little bit better. It's been a great experience. I'm not sure I'll do the whole Series next year, but we'll see.

I made my way over to John right after I finished. Well, actually, he came running and jumped ON me first. Haha. Nearly knocked me down. He doesn't realize I can barely hold him up anymore. :) It was funny. I watched Melissa and Jessica finish from afar and then made my to the bathroom. When I came out, there he was! The reporter for the Portsmouth Herald (!! I immediately got nervous since this could be strike 3. I managed to sound like an idiot (Dover is so pretty!!) in the first interview, then like a total asshole (I don't do workouts) in the 2nd one. What would #3 be?! I was not letting that happen, so I really tried hard to pay attention to what I was saying. Fortunately, I hardly got any quotes. I assume I really botched it, and the writer took pity on me. Here's a link to the article: Fox Point Race Article.

After the interview, I came back to John, who was ready for some food and the playground, so we moved our stuff over to one of the picnic tables by the post-race BBQ. John only wanted watermelon and then went out to the playground. I needed to get my stuff from the car, so I decided to just do an easy 1-mile cool down while I was at it. I wasn't thinking when I ran down towards the car and ended up running against the racers still out on the course. It was fun to smile at them and cheer them on, but I kind of felt like an asshole once I turned around and started passing them all. I don't think I'll do that again. I felt bad about it.

I got my clothes to change into and ran back up to the picnic area. John was still on the swings, and I went down into the woods to change. Once I was done, I grabbed some food. It was a great spread, and the volunteers were so nice. It wasn't long before Andy Schachat started announcing awards. I was pretty surprised to win $150, since I didn't even know this one had a cash prize. We also won these light up arm bands which I can definitely use; I could have used it on Monday night's run for sure!

John played on the playground for awhile. We both finished eating, then headed for home. It wasn't too late of a night since we were back not too long after 9pm, but then I had to start thinking about the next morning. I had to race AGAIN, and I was tired.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Center/South Conway Loop

I had a weekend full of racing, so I decided to do a "short" run on Friday morning. It was cloudy and still humid when I started, but as I ran the clouds moved out and that familiar Fall breeze rolled in. It felt so good. And I felt really good on my run. I felt so fast again (not that I was fast; I just felt like it). I ran a loop starting on Potter Rd (dirt) to Brownfield Rd (pavement) to Gulf and Greeley Roads back to Potter (all dirt). I cranked out the last 3 with all sub-7s. Felt great the whole run. 11.1 miles at 7:22 mi/pace, 941ft of elevation gain.
Part of my run on Gulf Rd

I went right from there to run what I thought would be quick errands. If you live in a small town and hope to get in and out of anywhere quickly, you can bet you will run into a bunch of people you know. Sure enough...  I did, but I didn't mind it all. I loved seeing everyone I ran into. I even got to participate as a model for the EMS commercial for White Mountain TV channel. Ha ha. I looked so awesome after my run. Can't wait to see it... but I won't. I don't have tv. Haha.

After I finished my errands, I went home to get the dogs then drove to Tin Mountain to pick up John from his homeschool group. We took a short walk down to the pond after catching up with some friends whose kids are also in the group.

John at Tin Mt
We didn't do much else for the day. I made a fire in the fire pit which felt nice since the air was actually chilly. Great night. Stars were out.


Woke up at 4am on Wednesday to do some "weight training" before work. I had skipped Sunday, so I doubled up two workouts. It was kind of a nice alternative to the treadmill, but it was still way too early. Work was actually super busy. Our other crew had to go out on a long transfer to Keene, so we had to cover town and had 4 911s. I ended up teching them all since we knew there was a paramedic transfer looming that my partner would have to do. That was a lot of report writing for me, but I didn't mind. I like working in the back of the truck with the patient when I can. We did end up doing that transfer to Maine Med and got back a little before 1am. 30 minutes later, just as I was dozing off, a tone dropped. Please, please, please be a fire alarm activation. Sigh of relief. It was. I drove us to the scene, half asleep. Of course. Someone cooking. Headed back to the base and got to sleep for almost 4.5 hours straight!! Huge night for sleep. Haha. Got up at 0540 so that I could shower then go finish my last report.

At 7am, I headed down to the Tamworth base for the rest of my 34. I wasn't with my usual partner, and both of our calls were total shit shows. It was funny. I said when she got there that I knew the Tamworth/Madison/Eaton/Freedom area really well. Jinxed. I could find the streets, but not the street numbers. But, hey, no one died. I call that success. ;)

After 34 hours, 5pm always looks extra good. I changed clothes, then drove all the way up to North Conway to run Mt Kearsarge North. I didn't start until 6pm, so I knew it would be dark for some of the way down. This time I came prepared with a headlamp. I was surprised how easy the run up felt. It wasn't my fastest time up there, but it was pretty close. I felt really good. The air was still thick in the trees, but as soon as i got out in the open, the cooler air felt great. I made it up there in 50:59, about 1.5 minutes slower than my fastest. Weather was rolling in, but it made for some beautiful views. And watch out! Selfiefest!

Selfies GALORE!

Inside the fire tower

Lights of North Conway in the background

Clouds were pouring over the mountains like waves
I ran back down in about double the time of my fastest. I can only run down super fast when the trail is hard-packed snow. Plus, the last two miles were in the dark with a headlamp. 5.7 miles with 2588ft of elevation gain. Felt great to get a mountain run after that long shift. I like to be in the fresh mountain air after sitting in the stuffiness of the ambulance bases.

On the way home, I decided to go to Flatbread on a whim to grab a pizza. I grabbed a beer while I waited and then chatted with my friend, Kristen, who was there for a MWV Soccer Club fundraiser. Great way to round out my day.

Middle Mt Loop-9/8/15

After the previous night's run, I woke up really beat. I only have the morning on Tuesday to run, so out I went into what felt like 100% humidity for a loop run through the Green Hills in North Conway with Spot. I was sluggish right from the get-go and absolutely STRUGGLED through this entire run. Started at Hemlock Lane and ran the mountain bike trails over to the Middle Mt Trail. I ran (if you can call it that) up Middle Mt. About half way up, I ran into my friend, Cindy, who was hiking down. I was never more happy to stop running to chat for 5 minutes. I felt great once I started again... for maybe 3-4 minutes. Then it was back to feeling like I was lugging 200lb legs up the mountain. From the top of Middle, I ran over towards Rattlesnake, then down to the mountain bikes trails and Corridor 19 back to the car. I was drenched in sweat and completely spent. The worst run I had had in a long time. 7.6 miles. 1617 ft of elevation gain. As soon as I was done, I knew I was taking Wednesday off from running.

John came home, and I decided that I wanted to check out the Cotton Valley Rail Trail with him. I put our bikes on the bike rack and drove down to Wolfeboro. We parked right off of 109 at a parking area for the path then rode down about 1.5 miles until we got to Albee Beach. We were already sweating from the 90 degrees, so we stopped for a swim. What a beautiful beach with such clean water. John was loving it, and it took reminding him that we were getting ice cream in Wolfeboro to get him out of the lake.
Cotton Valley Rail Trail

Albee Beach. Hiding from the camera. I don't know why. I only take like 30 pictures of him a day. Sheesh.

Add caption

Yep. Goofball selfie.

Ice cream at the town docks

Helmet mark on my forehead and tangled hair after swimming

I don't think that lady liked photobombing us.

Pardon my legs, but the water was just so beautiful.

Peppermint stick. Melting. I love melted ice cream.

Albee Beach
We rode on into Wolfeboro. The town was much quieter than the day before. We got ice cream and then walked out to the end of a dock to sit and eat it. John covered the dock in chocolate ice cream then swore he didn't spill any. Haha. The ice cream hit the spot, so we were ready to bike back to Albee Beach for another swim. We didn't stay too long since John had his ninja class, so we finished up the bike ride for a total of 7.2 miles. The whole trail, one-way, is 12.5 miles, so I would like to come down and run the whole thing, down and back. Flat as can be, so it would a fast long run. Not sure when I'll add that into my schedule, but, hopefully, before the snow flies. Oops. I'm sorry. I said the S word. Nevermind.

John made it to ninja class and was pretty wiped out after that. We had such a great day together.