Monday, March 28, 2016

Brrr-lingame 10-Mile Trail Race

Saturday was the next race in the South County Race Series in Rhode Island. I had enjoyed Belleville Pond so much that I decided to go back for the Brrr-lingame 10 mile trail race. It was a toss-up between this race and Eastern States 20-miler that I ran last year, but when I thought about how difficult it would be logistically with John, I decided ES was out. Plus, I would much rather run a 10-mile trail race any day over a 20-mile road race right now. It just seemed appealing. A new-to-me trail race. Perfect! The only thing I forgot was that it was 4.5 hours away! That would have meant getting up at 3am on Saturday morning to make the drive down. I had no desire to do that, so on Thursday, I searched around for places to stay. Having the 3 dogs with us meant a dog-friendly place. There wasn't much in the area near the race, so I ended up with the La Quinta near the airport in Warwick.

John came home two hours early, so I let him get his video game time in before we left. The drive ended up going very smoothly with zero traffic. That was surprising since we went right through Massachusetts during rush hour time. Trillium Brewing Company seems to be all the rage right now, so I decided to make a quick stop in their Canton brewery which was just 5 minutes off I-95. A quick stop it was not. I ended up in a very slowly moving line. It didn't really matter, though. I was able to grab two of both of the beers I was hoping they would have. I can't vouch for them yet since I haven't cracked them open. They have a lot of hype. Can they live up to that? We'll see.

John, the dogs and I made it to the La Quinta and checked in fine. Then I walked across the parking lot to Doherty's Ale House which was right next door for some dinner and beers.
Proclamation Broze at Doherty's
I have trouble falling asleep in hotel rooms because they are so stuffy, and this night was no exception. I didn't fall asleep until almost 1am. The bed was way more comfortable than mine, though; I'll give it that.

I was up at 6am so that I could shower, take the dogs out and basically just take my time getting ready. The hotel had a continental breakfast, but there wasn't a single thing there that looked even remotely appealing, so I just took some creamers for my in-room coffee and a bowl of corn flakes for John. I figured I could make do with what I brought from home and would stop at Starbucks on the way down to the race to get John a breakfast sandwich.

The drive down to Burlingame was nice and SHORT. Less than an hour. I was really happy with my decision to stay over the night before. I didn't get a lot of sleep, but it definitely beat out the 4.5 hour drive that morning. We ended up getting to the race so early that I had no idea where to go, but I eventually found it. I took the dogs in the woods to use the bathroom first and then got ready for a warm up. I joined Bob, Muddy, Jonny Hammett and Jeff Walker for a 2-mile run half trail/half road. I actually felt really good on the warm up and was pretty psyched to be trail racing. The course looked fun, and I was feeling it. When we were done, I got ready for the race, and Eric Narcisi came over. He pointed a college girl whom he said was fast but only doing the 5-miler. Goal #1: Beat college girl through the first 5. :)

The weather was a little chilly, but I opted for short sleeves and a skirt. I started with gloves but ditched them after the first loop. We lined up and then Mike Galoob started us off. The course heads through a field for just long enough to get in a good position for the single track. The college girl started off super fast and entered the woods pretty far ahead of me. I got stuck behind someone briefly that I really needed to get around. Jeff Walker was behind me and made a move. I waited a few more seconds then went around and focused on catching this girl. She was running with another guy, and Jeff fell in behind them and talked for a bit just before going by them. I hung back just enough through the last climb just before the road crossing, then made my move passing those two right around the mile mark. I continued to pull away from them and hung on to Jeff for nearly the entire race until mile 8.

I was really enjoying these trails. Not super technical, a lot of rolling hills. Reminded me of the trails on the South Shore in Mass where I've lived. I loved it. I was still running very hard, since I still wanted to be the first woman through the 5, but I found it fairly easy to maintain this pace. The course seemed to wind all around, so that I had no idea where I was. I kept my sights on Jeff to keep pulling me along. Right after mile 4, I realized where we were and that we were almost back at the start/finish for the end of loop 1. Goal #1 accomplished. I came through around 35:45. My next goal was to attempt to maintain this pace. I wasn't so sure I could at this point, but now that I knew the course, I thought maybe it was possible. I was surprised at how easy this second loop felt. And how I was getting my trail legs back. Even though I wouldn't consider this a technical course, it still had its obstacles. Rocks, boulders, bog bridges. But I'm good at this stuff and felt at home gliding along the course. Before I knew it, we were at mile 8, and Jeff began to slow considerably. I passed him. He said he was starting to lose steam. I asked him how many miles he ran before the race; he said 11. That would do it. I continued on past him and made my way for the finish. I was hoping to come in under 1:12 and was psyched to hear Mike yell out 1:11:54. Video that Brenna took of me finishing. My second loop ended up being only about 20 seconds slower than the first which also made me happy. It was such a good race for me. I needed that after my ass-whooping at New Bedford. Plus, it was a really good tune-up for Merrimack coming up in 2-weeks.

I got John to come out of his "cave", i.e. the car, for a little bit while I got ready for the cool down. Then, Bob, Muddy, Eric Narcisi and I went out for 2 miles. I brought Chill along so that he could use the bathroom and get some exercise. I was definitely a hurting puppy for that one. That 2 miles was harder than the 10!

We got back just before the awards. I won more beer for winning first female. Yay! Haha. I also finished 10th overall.

From there, John and I joined Bob, Eric, Brenna (Eric's wife) and Eric's dad for lunch at Mew's Pub before our drive back to New Hampshire. That was a pretty cool place. The food and beer were great. A discussion about the sketchiness of Central Falls, RI came up over lunch. So on the way up I-95, just as I got close to Pawtucket, I decided to take a detour and visit this wonderful place. From the very little of it I saw, it lived up to its reputation. The people and the place looked rough. My attempts at a sign selfie failed, due to the sun behind the sign, but you can see my Kia Soul in the background perfectly fitting in like a local.

The drive home was long but not that bad since it wasn't late. I was once again glad I made the trip down for this one. I want to come down for the Big River Half, but that will depend on how I feel after Boston.

Next up.................NO RACE WEEKEND! Not only do I need it, but so does John. We'll enjoy the break until it starts all up again the following weekend at the Merrimack Trail Race.


My double race weekend left me feeling pretty beaten up, and, in hindsight, I really should have taken Monday off. I don't think the run I did after work helped me in anyway. In fact, I think it hurt me to the point where I ended up with two zero days before the weekend. It was only my usual 4.5 mile ZERO elevation gain run around Windsock Village from work. The problem with this run is that is so damn flat, that running it at quick pace is easy and takes very little effort. So even though it was short, I ended up running it at a 6:56/mi pace. Definitely not a good thing. I had little choice in routes since I was on call and couldn't venture further. Otherwise, I think a short, easy trail run in the Albany Town Forest would have been a better choice if I just HAD to do a run.

Tuesday, I got up and procrastinated way too long only leaving me enough time to run from the house. And yet again, it was a run I shouldn't have done. I was feeling pretty beat and in a little pain in both glutes and my right hip. But my stubbornness always beats out my common sense... pretty much every time. The run ended up feeling ok. Not great, but I still managed to run it quite quickly, which I'm finding I have trouble NOT doing. I don't know how to slow down when I'm on the road. I've been more of a trail runner in my adult life, and now I'm seeing why I avoided injury all of that time. I never pay attention to pace or time when I'm on the trail. I tend to stop and take in views. But throw me on the road, and every run is a race. Racing myself constantly. I've only been wearing a watch consistently on my runs now for about 3 years. I didn't even race with a watch for a long time. But now, I'd better have those stats at the end. I need to know how I did compared to last time. I need to beat that time. If not, I need to know why. I am now understanding the danger of it. But, like I said, I'm stubborn, so I won't stop. Isn't recognizing the problem good enough? Haha. I won't be laughing when I'm injured again. So, anyway, I ran up Bald Hill and back down to the Kanc for a loop home of 10.1 miles at a 7:23/mi pace and 866ft of elevation gain. As soon as I was done, I was really feeling soreness in my glutes and right hip even more. That's when I decided there would be no running on Wednesday morning. When Wednesday came around, I had no regrets in skipping the run. I knew it was the right choice.

The rest of Tuesday, I was going nonstop. I had a few errands to run. John and I picked up his friend, Grace, during our travels so that they could hang out for the afternoon. They had such a good time, and it helped since I spent hours organizing all of my Treasurer stuff from the White Mountain Milers. After nearly 4 years as Treasurer, I was finally handing it over, and I wanted to make sure it was organized better for the person taking it on. Too bad I never did that for myself. Haha. The meeting that night was our annual meeting, and it was held at Tuckerman Brewing, which ended up being a great choice. The meeting went smoothly. The new officers were elected, and I breathed a sigh of relief to finally get that off of my shoulders. They shocked me with a $100 gift card to EMS as a thank you for my work with the club. That was very sweet and unexpected.

John and his friend, Grace, taking a selfie from the computer
Drinking through the White Mountain Milers meeting
Wednesday night was another brutal all-nighter. We went out for a chimney fire at 11pm, and while on scene got the dreaded call that as soon as we cleared we had a transfer to Brigham & Women's in Boston. Anytime a transfer comes in for Boston, it's almost always in the middle of the night, and it just sucks. There's no two-ways about it. It's nearly a 6-hour round trip drive. We left North Conway at 12:30am and got back at 6:15am. So another night of no sleep. Which also meant my body wasn't recovering as quickly as it should. I had to go right into my next shift at the Tamworth base. I was originally out at 1pm and had planned my long run for that day, but with two people calling out, I ended up staying until the usual 5pm. My long run had dwindled to 11 miles, and by the time I got out to Potter Road and started running, I knew immediately that I was cutting it short. I was SO beat. Plus the road was covered in snow and ice and slippery. I put my microspikes on within 5 minutes. I had no desire to do a long run in microspikes, so that really sealed the deal on cutting it short. I had seen Paul Bazanchuk's truck as I parked and wondered if I would run into him and sure enough, I did. Paul has been a fixture on the local running scene since he moved up from Western Mass, and I've gotten to know him through years. I hadn't seen him since the snowshoe race at Whitaker so we spent about 10 minutes chatting. I was happy to stop and for once take the run easy without a care about my time. After we went our separate ways, I continued on up Greeley Rd to the most amazing view in the area, imo. I turned around and ran back to the car. 6.8 EASY miles.
Photo by Kim Proulx of this awesome view

Towards the end of the run, I was hurting. Not just lack of sleep but my right hip and right glute. OUCH. I must be so out of whack. Funny, both of these particular pains are something I've had off and on since 2010. The pain in the glute is in a similar place as my injury on the left was, but the pain is different, and it feels like it's affecting my sciatic nerve. I've had this on both sides before. It's weird, and I don't know what it is, but I could probably us a chiropractic visit (to a different chiropractor) and a deep tissue massage. I had that one massage after my injury, but I'm in dire need for another one now.

Going on no sleep, I was pretty much a zombie the rest of the night. I don't even remember what I ate for dinner. No idea. I woke up from a deep sleep at 8:30am Friday morning feeling pretty refreshed, but with absolutely zero desire to run. When I opened my door to let my dog out, I saw everything covered in a layer of ice with freezing rain still coming down. That pretty much sealed the deal. Another zero day. I wasn't worried about it. I just wanted to take my time, run some errands and then get packed up for our drive down to Rhode Island for the Brrr-lingame 10-Mile Trail Race the next day.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

2016 New Bedford Half Marathon - USATF-NE GP#2

It was nice sleeping in on Sunday morning before the race, and I woke up feeling pretty good, like I hadn't even raced the day before. But even feeling good, I still didn't have my head in the game. I had been dreading this race for months so my attitude going into it is probably one of the reasons I didn't do as well as last year; I honestly just didn't care. I hadn't trained anywhere close to race a half marathon. However, I think my moronic decision to race the 5K the day before was really what did me in.

I got to the race pretty early and parked right by the Y. Since I had picked up my bib the day before, I was able to skip that process. I messaged my CMS teammate, Jenn Brooks, about warming up together, so as soon as she got there and got her bib, we headed out on an easy 2 mile warm up. We were both a bit bummed that our team was going to be missing quite a few people, but there was nothing we could do about it. Hopefully, we'll see the full team show up at the next one.

There wasn't a lot of time left before the start when we finished, so I ran back to my car and quickly got ready. Just like last year, I couldn't decide on the CMS long-sleeve or singlet, and, like last year, I went with the long-sleeve.  This year, it was the right choice. I got warm a few times and rolled up the sleeves, but in general I was comfortable with my choice. I ran up to the start and had to weave through the entire crowd to get up to the elite women's corral. I didn't really belong here, but all of the people I knew were in it, so I hopped in. It was nice to be surrounded by so many familiar faces so we chatted up until the race started. At this point, I don't think I had quite accepted the fact that I was about to run a half marathon. I could not focus. The only goal I could come up with for this year was to hold back on the first mile; last year, I shot out and ran a ridiculous first mile. I wanted to take it easy off the line and just ignore all of the people passing me. I thought I had done this. I felt like I had and even believed I had until later that night when I realized I had read my watch wrong. I went out almost as fast as last year!! Why?! Ugh. I caught up with Jenn for the 2nd mile and proceeded to chat; chatting is not my forte, but, for some reason, I chatted way too much during this race. Jenn took off on the first hill, and I was happy to let her go. But no sooner than Jenn was gone, Kelsey Allen caught up to me, and we proceeded to chat for awhile. Upcoming race plans, my injury, etc. What was I doing?! It did slow me down for the 2nd and 3rd miles, but too much! Then, right at the 3rd mile, I felt it. My legs. Beat to shit. My quads were so fatigued. The 5K. I was feeling it! Such a stupid move!! I wasn't sure I could even run a sub-1:30 at this point, but I had people around me that pulled me along. I just followed.
Headed for the finish line
Looking ahead to the stretch of the hardest headwind. LOL.

I remember feeling great until mile 10 last year, but this year, I felt so strange. It was as if I could be going harder, but my legs just weren't allowing it. My effort didn't match feel. I felt like I was giving 100%, but the pace didn't match it. Even the long downhill in the middle miles was a struggle. I had a few people right in front of me who had been in sight the whole race; I used them to get me through it. If they hadn't been there, I would have slowed significantly. We hit the usual headwind, but this time I was prepared for it. I also remembered to have a gel at mile 8 this year. I waited too late last year and ended up bonking hard at mile 10. The last three miles last year were awful. I was hurting so bad. It was interesting that as bad as I felt I was racing, I didn't hit that wall this time around. In fact, I ran the last 3 miles FASTER this year than last. Only seconds faster, but I was happy about that. I ended up nearly catching Jenn right at the top of the big hill. She had been consistently the same distance ahead of me the whole race, and I finally came close, but she had a nice kick as soon as we turned right for the downhill just before the last .1 to the finish. Right as we turned the corner, I passed Michael Narcisi, but he wasn't letting me beat him and took off on a huge sprint for the finish. Jenn did the same thing. I have no kick and just ran it in. 1:25:39. Wow! Not bad at all!! I thought for sure I was on track for a 1:28 something. Just as I ran through the finish line, Jenn had stopped and immediately threw up. I stopped with her to make sure she was ok. Once she was able to move, we avoided the EMTs and found her a spot on the grass to sit on to recover. We would finish 1 and 2 for the CMS women.

Richie Blake just happened to be sitting right on the finish line and caught this moment. Jenn didn't mind it being on Facebook, so I don't think she'll mind it on here. It's pretty awesome. She ran a PR that day.

I have no idea what my place was overall for the women, but for the second year in a row, I was 18th in the USATF open. Interesting that my time last year (1:23:25) would have had me in the top 10 this year! All in all, I ended up being pretty satisfied with my race. I never expected to run anything close to 1:25:39 in the shape I'm in. I am still struggling with discomfort and being heavier that running has not been easy like it used to be. I've been specifically just trying to get into marathon shape. So I can't complain about New Bedford. And, honestly, had I not been so stupid and raced the 5K the day before, I do really think I would have done better. I learned my lesson and will never do a double like that again. New Bedford really didn't matter, though. Even if I had scored for the GP series, it would have been pointless; I'll be 40 for the remaining races and those points would have been lost anyway.

I didn't hang out long at the finish because I was starting to get cold. I talked to a few people for about 10 minutes, then made my way to the car. I ran into Barbara McManus and some other of the CMS women on the way and stopped to talk to them for a few minutes before continuing on. I was so stiff, but I didn't feel that beat. Still, I had no desire to do a cool down, so the .2 back to my car was it. I changed clothes, and Barb came down with a CMS jacket for me. Then I hit the road. I wasn't hanging out this time around. I just wanted to get the hell out of there and get back to John in Marshfield.

Once I got John and the dogs, we drove over to Carolina Hill, one of my old haunts, for a walk with the dogs. It felt SO good to walk, and John even seemed to enjoy it. We only did about 1.5 miles, but I needed food, and the long drive back to NH awaited.

Walk at Carolina Hill in Marshfield
 After the walk, we drove over to KKatie's Burger Bar for some food. John had eaten here before with his dad's family and was excited to go back. That was a first since he usually just begs to go home. That meant a happy, non-stop talking kid the whole time. I loved it. We lucked out to have live music start up just as we got there. The food was great and hit the spot. I didn't even need to eat another thing the rest of the day and night.

The drive home was uneventful... which was much appreciated. Haha. Last year, we hit a white-out on Rt 1 and then got into a multi-car accident on the bridge in Dover, NH due to black ice. It took us 5 hours to get from Marshfield back home. I was thankful for the beautiful weather and dry roads the whole way home. I felt tired and beat by the time we got home and knew that the coming week was going to be light one.

Here was my drive home in 2015:

This doesn't even show as bad as it was because it got worse!

I lucked out with quick thinking to avoid a direct hit. I was able to put the tail light back in its place, where it stayed until I got it repaired. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Marshfield St Patrick's Day 5K

Knowing I had the New Bedford Half Marathon coming up on Sunday, I tried to take it pretty easy during the week. I took Monday night off and just did yoga. Tuesday, I ran a decent 13 mile run through Tamworth and Madison on a course I hadn't done in awhile. It was a good run except for 2 miles of straight ice on High St. which really slowed me down. I couldn't decide whether to just turn around or not, so I just kept going. Happy with this run. I ran the usual 5 on the treadmill on Wednesday, and then two trail runs to finish out Thursday and Friday. One on the completely clear trails in the Green Hills and then the second one on the barely-clear trails of the Moat Mineral Site. And that was where being smart ended...

Going to New Bedford meant I was going to need help with John. I wasn't going to leave him hanging out there, although I could have because Andy Schachat offered to let John hang out at his announcing table anytime I was in a bind and he was announcing. It was such a long race, though, so I decided that it was best to ask John's grandparents, who live in Marshfield, Ma, if he could stay with them while I raced. And it just so happened that it was also the weekend of the Marshfield St Patrick's Day 5K.

John was invited to his aunt and uncle's post-race annual party, sooooo since we were going to be there, I made the mistake of racing the 5K. I had raced it twice before and was lucky enough to come in 2nd one year, winning $250. A chance at prize $ made it worth a try. However, I knew that I had no chance of that as soon as I got to the starting line and saw 3 New Balance Boston women step into the chute. Hahaha. I should have bowed out then and saved my legs, but, no, that's not something I would ever do, so I didn't. The race this year had opposite winds with the first half being against a really strong, cold headwind. There is one short hill at the start, followed by a decent downhill and flat until it turns the corner and hits a long (maybe a mile?), but gradual uphill. I ended up in 5th place woman right away and, once again, contemplated just dropping out because what was the benefit for the next day? Nothing. But I kept going. I was racing pretty hard, but when I saw my first mile split, I knew the wind was a factor. The effort should have been about 5 seconds faster than the 5:58, but I had run the whole course for my warm up and knew that the second half of the race had a great tailwind! The second mile was still slower at 6:09, but half of that was still in the headwind. It was the last mile in the tailwind that really made up the pace back to a 5:59. The wind made the uphill effort seem easy, so I felt good about the way I was racing. I passed the 4th woman (who would turn out to be one of my CMS teammates) with maybe .4 or so to go. I was way behind 3rd. I kept pushing hard because I thought I might out kicked by the woman I had just passed, but I was instead out kicked by a completely different woman just before the finish line to finish 5th, right where I started, in 18:47. I was pretty happy with that. I felt I hadn't left anything on the course. In hindsight, I should have left everything on the course and not run it all, but I tend to make bad decisions. Haha.

Finished first in my age group winning this hat and $100 gift card to Whole Foods. I was psyched.
As soon as I finished, I kept running right back to the house. John was walking the race with his grandparents and had gotten all dressed up. I wanted to grab my phone and run back out there to get some pictures, but when I walked in the house, John was sitting in there already. He got his second DNF at this race after dropping at the half mile point. Haha. No reason to go back out, so I decided to get in the shower right away before everyone got back to the house. 

John all dressed up for the race
As soon as family got back, I left John with them to enjoy the party. I used to stay, but now, it's just a little awkward. Everyone was super nice to me and treating me just like I was still family, but I just didn't really want to stay and relive the past. I needed to take care of the dogs anyway, so I took them out for a walk, and then drove down to New Bedford to pick up my bib# and shirt. I stayed for a nice lunch with beer since I was STARVING by this point.

When I got back into town, I walked the dogs again, grabbed some dinner, picked up John at the party and then went back to John's grandparents' house for the night. I felt great, like I hadn't raced at all. Little did I know...

First walk with the dogs

Second walk with the dogs by the North River

Monday, March 21, 2016

Catch Up Post

It's finally come down to this. I am just too far behind to write a blog post for every race and run in the last month and a half. Knowing I just keep getting further and further away just keeps me less and less motivated to blog. So the last month and a half will be a quick recap with some pics.

Horse Hill Snowshoe Race- What would turn out to be the last snowshoe race of the season and only 15 people showed up. Temps below zero. Coldest I've ever raced in. 1st woman in 30:37. 3.3 miles on my watch. Thought my face was seriously going to have frost nip before I was done. Ended our Granite State Snowshoe Series with me as the women's winner again. Similar to 2012. Doesn't really feel like a victory, but I'll take it. Took John back to the New England Aquarium after the race.
Six03 crazies who made the race despite the cold
USATF-NE New Englands Indoor Track Meet- One final attempt to improve my 3000m time at Harvard University's indoor track. I, surprisingly, got John to warm up on the outdoor track with me. That was fun, and he seemed to enjoy himself. I was nervous about this race because the women only had one heat, and I was seeded 3rd to last. But racing with the fast women meant I would be pulled along to a faster time. My CMS teammate, Jenn Brooks, pulled me along most of the race. I ended up passing her but only beating her by a second. Having her to drive me along helped my finish with a 12 minute improvement on my 3000m time. 10:42:30. I was psyched!

John warming up with me

Yay for the Indoor Track! Wait. What?

Being pulled along by Jenn early on in the many, many laps of the 3000m. I'm never wearing that outfit again!

Post-race Pretty Things, now defunct.
Belleville Pond 10K Trail Race- A race that I had signed up for for early February that got post-poned due to too much snow! Ended up being a beautiful day. So worth the trip down to Rhode Island for this one. I had been missing dry trails. The race was fast and deceptively hard with many short ups and downs. I found it pretty challenging due to the speed of the race combined with these little hills. I had been sick the day before and could hardly eat much at all so I came into the race feeling ok, but drained of energy. I felt like I crashed right at mile 4, but I was able to maintain a fast pace for the last two miles, easily winning for the women in 45:41. Eric Narcisi won for the men making it a Six03 sweep over the Four01.

Eric and I with our winnings

After the race, John and I joined Eric Narcisi, Bob Jackman, Scott Mason and Mike Daniels for lunch at the Oak Hill Tavern where I had a stuffie for the first time. I had no idea what this was. I swear the record stopped and room got quiet when I vocalized this. Haha. So I had to try it. It was good!

From there, we drove over to the Tilted Barn Brewery which was really cool. John was content playing at the playground area while we had beer in the main building (barn). I was even able to take the dogs on a short walk here and picked up a live chicken. Super fun day which ended in a looooong drive home, but it's always worth it in the end.
Tilted Barn Brewery
John had his 10th Birthday party the next day at his gymnastics place. We all had fun since I joined in with the kids. I still can't believe I have a 10 year old! Where did the time go?!

Decorating his own cake

Lighting his own candles
An Ras Mor 5K- The first race of the New England Grand Prix Road Race Series. I went into this one knowing that I would be lucky to finish in the top 40 for women, so I had no pressure on myself as far as place went. It was nice not to be nervous for this one since I'm just a peon in grander 5K racing world. I was there to enjoy the fun of the Grand Prix races, and I hoped the insanely fast field would pull me along to a decent time. My goal was to race close to my PR of 18:35, and I ended up beating it by 5 seconds! 18:30! The race was almost entirely flat, so that helped, but the biggest factor was the field. I ended up just barely under 30th in 28th place. I was very happy with this!! You know the field is fast when an 18:30 is 28th place! The race was, of course, followed by drinks and food, this time at Asgard Pub there in Cambridge. 

St Paddy's Run Before You Crawl 5K- This was an unplanned race. One snowshoe race for the weekend had been cancelled already, but the second one wasn't cancelled until shortly after my long run on Friday. This meant I had no race! So I searched and found one in Dover,NH that looked fun... for the pub crawl after. Haha. What a difference between this race and An Ras Mor. When I lined up on the line, I knew I was going to be first woman. What I didn't know was how well I would actually race. I was so sore, and my legs were beat after the previous day's long run. I heard talk of the course and how it had a lot of uphill. I had a feeling I wouldn't be running any sub-19. I still went out hard, but they were right; the course had A LOT of uphill. I knew from the first mile that I wouldn't break 19. I still gave 100% and finished 1st woman, 5th overall in 19:04. The biggest moment of the race was my first time EVER in my life breaking a tape. After all of these years and many, many wins, there has never been a tape. I was nervous when I first saw it, but I just ran through it trying to look like I knew what I was doing. Very cool. I won $100, too. I had no idea there was prize $, so that was a nice surprise. The pub crawl around Dover was ok. John and I hit 8 different places, mainly just for the food. I did have two beers spaced out. One at the Brickhouse and the other at 7th Settlement. After the pub crawl, we took a short walk at Wagon Hill Farm in Durham to end our day in southern NH.


Walking through Dover

John at 7th Settlement

Wagon Hill Farm

My big guy at Wagon Hill
So that pretty much catches up my goings-on up until this past weekend. I left out all of my weekly running blah, blah, blahs because it's been nothing out of the ordinary. I've been putting in solid long runs in preparation for Boston. Not hitting huge weekly miles, but it's really all I can fit in. I've also been able to get back on the trails and in some mountains with the early Spring. Mountain racing season will be here soon, so I have to start getting in shape for that while I taper (yes, I said that word!) down for Boston. My long runs have been way better than expected, but they are still not coming easy. I'm trying, though, and just hoping for a sub 3:10 at Boston. Anything super fast will mean I'm having an extraordinary day, and I don't foresee that at this point. I think I'll save "extraordinary" for just over a month from now when I turn 40!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Kingman Farm Moonlight Snowshoe Race

Monday, 2/8/16- Skipped the evening run. I felt like I needed a day off and just went to yoga at Mountain Center that night.

Tuesday, 2/9/16- I had a root canal appointment that morning, so it left me with no time to drive anywhere, and the roads near home were slippery. I opted for a 10-mile run on the treadmill. Progression run with incline in 1:09:43 at 6:58/mi pace. Super happy with this even though it was over an hour in the dark, dank basement staring at my mess of stuff that I don't need. Music is my friend when I'm on the treadmill.

The root canal wasn't that bad. It took awhile, but I thought I would be in pain. I wasn't and almost fell asleep during it. Later that afternoon, John and I cross country skied in the Albany Town Forest with Spot and Phoenix. 3.1 miles.

Albany Town Forest ski

Wednesday, 2/10/16- Usual 5 mile progression run on the treadmill. Blah, blah, blah. Haha. The only run that is the same every week. 7:00/mi pace. Followed by my 34 hour shift.

Thursday, 2/11/16- 34 hour shift turned into a 35.5 hour shift when we ended up on a late call and didn't get out until 6:30pm. By this point, I decided to cut my original run plan short. I don't enjoy evening runs to begin with, and my original plan would have had me out until 9pm probably. Plus, it was dark, the wind was whipping and the temps were cold. I didn't feel bad about cutting it short. Drove to Hemlock Ln to hit the mountain bike trails in the Green Hills. I ran a 5.8 mile loop on perfectly packed (by fat bikes) trails up the Quarry Trail and back Pillar to Pond. I lucked out in that the mountains completely blocked the wind, so other than the cold, it was a really enjoyable run on the trails.

Friday, 2/12/16- I had an appointment in Portland at 8:45am, so I decided to do my long run over there. I hit the Holy Donut first before my appointment. SO GOOD. I ate one as my pre-run fuel, and funny enough, had one of my best long runs post-injury. I had planned to run the Eastern Trail starting in Scarborough, so I drove over to the northern terminus. I put on my microspikes and started along the path which was perfectly plowed and smooth running...for about 100 yards. The trail then turned into nothing but uneven, frozen footprints. I kept going for about a minute then realized there was no way I wanted to do a long run on this surface and aborted my run. I got back to my car and went with Plan B. I pulled up my map and realized I was right near Cape Elizabeth and the Mid-Winter Classic course that I've run twice. Having some familiarity to the roads, I decided to just run from there. I felt slow at first, but when I saw my first mile was a 6:58/mi pace, I had a feeling this was going to be a good run. It was also what I consider to be "flat". I maintained a sub-7 pace for the entire run. I even had to run on slushy shoulders a good portion of the time since the drivers were not so courteous, but that didn't slow me. I surprised myself as I ran that I was maintaining this pace. A lot of it had to do with the lack of hills for sure. Plus the weather was beautiful. I ended up on a portion of the race course and then looped back just before the point where the race finishes. I still felt great until the last 3 miles when I started to really lose it. By the last half mile I was all done. 17.5 miles at a 6:57/mi pace and a "flat" 364ft of elevation gain. I had little time left before I had to head back to NH, but I went by the Bier Cellar as usual to grab some beers on hold and pick some other enticing stuff.

Kingman Farm Moonlight Snowshoe Race

Although the winter had been mild up to this point, the temperatures this weekend were brutally cold. The evening's snowshoe race was going to be a COLD  and WINDY one. Race director, Chris Dunn, had already modified the course to keep us out of the field where the below zero windchill would be the worst. This really meant nothing to me since I had never been able to run Kingman. Something had always come up. Work or being a mom. Haha. Now that John joins me for every race, I was able to go. The winter made things iffy, but when I realized the race was a go, I was so excited! Finally! I didn't care how cold it was going to be. I just wanted to race Kingman finally.

It was nice taking a lazy morning at home for John and me. Around noon, John and I went to his friend's birthday party before heading to Madbury for the race. It was just over an hour, and we were there pretty early. As soon as I stepped out of the car, the wind hit me. It was COLD. I got John inside the building and got ready for a warm up. Bob Jackman, Jim Johnson and I hit the road for an even faster warm up than the previous week. It was shorter, though, at only 2 miles. We passed a small alpaca farm on the route, and the alpacas were all huddled together under a shelter looking at us like we were the biggest morons for being out in that cold. It was hilarious and totally cracked me up just seeing the looks on their faces. We just ran an out and back, and then I went back inside the building to figure out how in the world I was going to dress for this race. I ended up with a light top under my nordic top and the usual shorts under the pants. I wore gloves and mittens and a hat. With about 10 minutes to the start, we all ventured out to the starting line. There were cool ice sculptures with lights inside them guiding the way. I had seen pictures of these from last year and was hoping they would have them again. We lined up at the start line for about 5 minutes. My warm up was out the window since I was FREEZING. I was never so happy to hear the start of a race; I warmed as soon as we got going. I decided to go off fast, since I knew I might have some competition, and I knew it would also be double track for a bit. I wanted to get in a good position before we hit single track. Unfortunately, as soon as the race started, my headlamp started falling into my face; I hadn't put it on tight enough! I run with this headlamp twice a week and never screw it up, but of all times to mess it up, I do so during a night snowshoe race. Haha! It ended up being a major annoyance the entire race. I tried to fix it, but my hands were way too cold, so I had to randomly just hold it up out of my face during the race. That being said, I don't think it slowed me down at all. What slowed me down was not knowing the course at all. I had no idea the first part was going to be so flat or I would have pushed myself more. I also didn't realize we were near the finish when we were or else I would have run the the last hill harder. But all in all, I ran ok. I did get stuck behind another racer on the big hill, but I didn't mind it. Helped me catch my breath. I also stepped into an invisible hole by a bridge and went down. Took me a few seconds to get back on my feet and my momentum back. Once at the top of the hill, the racer in front stepped aside and a whole bunch of us moved on. I ran the downhills pretty hard and was prepared for the second small climb. One last downhill and then we were all of a sudden back right near the finish. I thought it was longer, but I was happy to finish. Holding my headlamp up in the last mile had left me cussing up a storm and dropping F-bombs loudly. I finished 1st woman, 13th overall in 28:25, over 2.5 minutes ahead of 2nd. I had 3.3 miles on my watch when we finished. I guess that's why the finish came more quickly than I expected; I thought the course was going to be longer. But it was fine. I was ready to go inside and warm up a bit before going out for a cool down. Full Results

Scott Mason stood out in that brutal cold as long as he could and captured this one at the start.
Bob, Jim and I cooled down together on the road again. I was all done, and these 2 miles seemed to take forever. Bob and I forgot our headlamps, so we had to follow Jim's light. No idea why I didn't bring the headlamp, but I was glad one of the three of us had one. We ran about a minute slower per mile than the warmup. My legs were done. The awards and chili cook-off followed. I never got any chili, but I won some Lindt Chocolates!

John and I joined the Tuesday Night Turtles for food and drinks after at 7th Settlement Brewery in Dover. The beer and food were good. John seemed to enjoy himself there. If I take the phone away, he usually is more social and has fun. We left for home after that. I only had about 13 hours before the next snowshoe race: Horse Hill.

Post race beers and food at 7th Settlement Brewery

Sunday, March 13, 2016

4th Down and 4-Miler

I have gotten so far behind that I'm pretty much going to gloss over most of my weekday runs and write more about the races until I can catch back up. I lost my motivation to blog the farther and farther I fell behind.

Monday, 2/1/16- First night of the Run Strong class at Mountain Center PT in Conway, so I ran a very quick 6 miles around the Windsock Village near work at a 6:17/mi pace. Run Strong followed. Only an introduction really to what the Wednesday class (that I couldn't attend) would be about.

Tuesday, 2/2/16- 10 mile run via Bald Hill Rd and the Kanc. Took it easy and felt good. 7:35/mi pace with 828 ft of  elevation gain.

Tuesday's walk

Fell in the water. That was predictable. Haha
Wednesday, 2/3/16- Early morning 5 mile treadmill run before work. Usual progression run with elevation. I've figured out how to estimate my elevation gain using a calculation I found online. I run at 1% grade for 2.7 miles and 3% for 2.3 miles. It comes out to about 507ft of elevation gain every time I do this run. Not bad. I know it's not exactly accurate, but it gives me an idea. This morning's run felt particularly easy at a 7:08/mi pace.

Thursday, 2/4/16- East Shore Drive and and out-and-back on Lead Mine Rd in Madison. Normally, I would never run on Lead Mine in the winter, but this hasn't been a normal winter. The road was completely clear, except for about .3 or so that is unplowed. Only soft in a few places. I wore microspikes for the unplowed section and then carried them the rest of the way.  8.4 miles at a 7:37/mi pace.

Friday, 2/5/16- Woke up to falling snow. Joined Kristina Folcik for a run in the snow over on the Chocorua Lake roads near her house. We both pushed the pace for a really good low mileage run. 6.7 miles at a 7:33/mi pace which was very quick considering the conditions we were running in. I wanted more miles after so I stopped in Madison for a 4-mile snowshoe run on the snowmobile trails (that never got used this winter). It was fun breaking the trail and one of the few days I got out on a snowshoe run. What a weird winter.

Saturday, 2/6/16- Snowshoe races for the weekend were cancelled due to lack of snow, then Belleville Pond 10K Trail Race in Rhode Island that I had signed up for for today was postponed due to too much snow! Go figure. Road conditions were dicey so I opted for a treadmill run. 10.2 mile progression run at 7:05/mi pace. I felt good. Really good workout. And if that calculation is right, I ran a decent amount of elevation gain on this, as well.
Another attempt at skiing at Black. Not a single good ski day there all season.

4th Down and 4 Miler Race 

I searched online for ANY race I could find to do and the best one I came up with was this one in Concord. I've been trying to race, race, race in order to get my speed back after the injury. I was still amazed at how quickly it disappeared, and the best way I know to get it back is to race these shorter distance races. This race looked ideal for that. I realized that morning that I had never run a 4 mile race before, so I was a little nervous about that. No idea how to pace for it.

John and I drove down to Concord. We brought the dogs along since we had plans to stay down in Southern NH all day. I arrived at what I thought was the race site at NHTI, but I couldn't find any signs of life anywhere, so I drove all around the place, even ending up back on the highway for another go-round. I found people running nearby and asked them. They had no idea. It was so weird. I ended up running into Jim Johnson who was ALSO driving all around looking for the place. We both ended up finding it behind this building on campus. It was obvious at that point, but for awhile there I thought I would never find it.

I got all checked in. Saw that Taryn Litterbrant was also there so round out our 3 Six03 people who showed up. It ended up being a pretty small crowd. I decided to bring Chill along on the warmup with Jim. Jim isn't a huge dog lover, so I laughed when Chill jumped out of the car and ran right at Jim. Haha. Dogs love to find the one person who doesn't like dogs. I leashed up Chill and then proceeded to run the fastest warmup I've ever done. Haha. 3.3 miles at 7:25/mi pace. Easy for Jim, a decent 5k pace for me.

We got back and shortly thereafter lined up at the start. It was a beautiful day out. I was wearing short sleeves and a skirt. And, yes, this was the first weekend of February. This ended up being one of my favorite days of the winter. A quick talk from Tom, the RD, and then we were off. I shot off right at a quick pace, just keeping it a tad slower than 5K pace. The course was almost dead flat except for 2 passes up and over the overpass over I-93. Not to brag, but I knew I had the race in the bag before we ever started, so I had to rely on some of the men around me to compete against. Jeff Litchfield usually schools me at the snowshoe races, so we were close for the first half mile of the race, but road racing isn't his thing, and I pulled ahead of him pretty quickly. I ended up running close behind a younger guy for most of the race and just tried to keep him in sight. I was definitely in the pain cave for the last mile since I wasn't used to that extra mile, but I felt strong. Finished 1st woman, 5th overall. I ended up running a really consistent race. 6:07, 6:09, 6:11, 6:11. I ended up with 3.98 miles on my watch. Jim had just over 4 on his, so I knew the course was accurate. They had me at 24:26 for a finish time, but I stopped my watch after I finished and had 24:24. Not a big deal, but I'm not sure why there was a discrepancy. Full Results.

I put on some layers, and then Jim and I went back out for a cool down. 2.4 miles at a MUCH slower pace 8:10/mi. My legs were all done. We made it back just in time for the awards. I got John out of the car to come inside since there were so many snacks. I won a $40 gift certificate to Runner's Alley that I plan to use soon.

Race Start. Photo by Gary Reuter

The only Six03 people at the race. Taryn was 2nd behind me, and Jim won, of course.
After the awards, I changed clothes then drove over to Portsmouth for the Six03 member party at this cool art space right downtown. There were SO many people there. I picked up my 2016 gear, grabbed a beer and some food and socialized for a little while. I didn't want to stay too long, though, because I really wanted to get John and the dogs back over to Ft Foster for a walk again. And, wow, what a walk it was.

New Six03 singlet

Beer at the Six03 party

We got to Fort Foster in Kittery just before sunset. Not many people were left there either, so we enjoyed a bit of solitude while watching the most amazing sunset I have probably ever seen. John had a great time climbing on the rocks and walking there. It was a beautiful way to end the day. Sometimes I really miss living on/by the ocean. I spent about 4 years total living by the ocean since I left Georgia, and, while I love living in the mountains, there's something extra special about living by the ocean. We called it a day there and drove home. Neither of us was hungry so we didn't stop. Fantastic day and weekend.

Night Cap