Monday, April 25, 2016

Boston Marathon 2016

Boston is finally over and done with, and I feel like a huge monkey is now off my back. I didn't realize how much it was stressing me out until after it was over. All of these months post-injury were mainly focused on it. All of my nervousness and uncertainty were because of the impending Boston, and I didn't even intend for Boston to be a big deal of a race. It wasn't even a goal race, but when I finished, it all made sense. I didn't know where I really was with my running. And now, that I do, I feel relieved and all of a sudden have this focus I haven't had since before my injury. I was focused on Boston, but not with the seriousness I had for my racing last year. All of my races of 2016 have been met with a lackadaisical attitude and apathy. I just haven't been able to put myself back together mentally or physically. Even during Boston, I struggled big time, but for some reason, ever since I crossed that finish line, I feel like my 2015 self. Not necessarily as fast or in shape, but mentally, I feel all of a sudden "back". Of course, if you had asked me how I felt about my running future during Boston, I would have told you I was quitting at mile 11, dropping out of VCM and never running another marathon again. Haha. So here's my race recap...

I was wide awake as soon as my 2am alarm went off. I don't know how, but I guess I was ready to get this day over with. John's dad had parked his van in the driveway after he got off of work at 11pm so that I could leave early. It was nice being able to just get up, get dressed, grab coffee and go and not have to worry about the dogs or dragging John along. Made getting on the road less stressful. There was no traffic and I got to the parking garage I had booked a space in earlier than expected. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that I had booked a valet-only garage which meant I had to hurriedly gather all of my stuff and get out of my car (this would also be a problem later since I couldn't just walk to my car, change and then head back out on the town). It was still dark out and the streets were empty until I got closer to Boston Common when I had homeless people wishing me a cheery "Good morning" from their doorway sleeping bags. I'm not even kidding. They were full of smiles. It was odd but kind of nice and made me smile. I made my way over to the new bag check on Boylston St which was WAY better than the Common location and pretty much in the same location as where the buses used to be. There weren't many runners out and about yet, so it was nice to walk through the Public Garden in the quiet.
Cool shot I got coming into the city

View from the Public Garden

Boston Common
I found my bag drop, which I was a little embarrassed about because I knew I wouldn't be running anything close to my qualifying time. I shut off my phone, put it in my bag and off I went back to the Common to catch a bus. I'm glad I got there when I did because it wasn't crowded yet, and I was on a bus by 6am. For some odd reason, we sat there waiting for almost half an hour, and by the time the bus left, the crowd waiting was huge. I attempted to sleep on the ride, but our bus driver decided to open his window all the way, and it was freezing. This is funny because I was anything but freezing the rest of the day.

I was at Athlete's Village so early that I was the first person to use the porta potty that I went in. I grabbed coffee and a bagel and picked a spot on the grass in the sun in the empty field. I drank my coffee, then tried to lie down and sleep, but I couldn't. I spotted Michael Narcisi, so he joined me for the rest of our time in the Village. I made the mistake of waiting too late to hit the bathroom again and ended up waiting in line for about 35 minutes. I just made it out of the Village before 9:20am. The crowd was tight, so we were all walking. I decided to stop at the last porta potties one more time and waited in line there for 20 minutes. It was 9:45am when I finally left there. I felt kind of rushed and worried I wouldn't make on time. I ran into Matt Garfield and Mick Arsenault as they were walking up, so the 3 of us walked together to corral 3. I stopped outside of the corral to tighten up my Brooks Neuro's, the shoes I bought at the expo. I decided to make a 4 time tradition of wearing a brand new-to-me model shoe for Boston. I hadn't been disappointed yet, and I knew I wouldn't be this time. Haha. I finally entered the corral. It was jam packed with people, so I squeezed in way in the back. That's when I noticed it. How warm it was! At this point, the last weather forecast I saw had it just maybe hitting 60 for a high, but it already felt warmer than 60. The guy next to commented on how hot it was, and me, being in denial, just said it was probably because of all the people and that I was sure it would be cool once we got going. But something definitely wasn't right. I didn't feel as hot as I did in the corral in 2012, but it was pretty reminiscent of it. I started to get a bad feeling that this guy was right. And that is where I went wrong. In 2012, I knew it was going to be close to 90 degrees. I prepared myself mentally for it. My only goal when I lined up at the start was to finish. But this time, I wasn't prepared. Even though I felt that it was hot, I didn't readjust my goal time. I went with the 2:59 I had planned, and, unfortunately, I continued to fool myself with this time until I hit mile 10. From the start, I was running the exact pace almost to the second of what I wanted to run, and that was all by feel. I only used my watch to check my splits to see if my effort matched the time, and for the first 9 miles, it did. So, basically, I would end up going out too fast. It was exactly what I planned, but that plan was not the right one for the day.

Things were good. I felt great. I grabbed fluids at every aid station. Poured water on my head. My effort felt easy. Then I hit mile 10. The headwind that had been keeping us cool was gone, and that's when I realized the air was stifling. My pace slowed way down through 10 and by halfway through mile 11, I was dropping out of the race. I was done. There was no way I could finish. I was dying, and I was only on mile 11! It was only like 70 degrees, but it felt so much hotter. I was done. That was it. But, then all of a sudden, we crested a hill at the end of mile 11, and the headwind was back!! Such relief. I wasn't going to quit anyway. I paid $180!!! Haha. At this point, I should have made the decision to cut the pace back to something realistic, but instead, I had this renewed hope and decided to get my pace back to what I had planned for that 2:59. Dumb, dumb, dumb. But I did just that for the next 5 miles. I came through the half in 1:30:09, less than a minute off my goal time. Perfect! I had lost a little in miles 10 and 11, but it was still looking good. Hahaha.

Mile 15- Reality. I came to grips with it. I was struggling. I was SO hot. I was SO thirsty. I had been guzzling water at every single aid station. I was in a huge state of hurt by the time I finished mile 15. My pace was not sustainable. I wouldn't finish if I tried to maintain it. Mile 16 was a little of a relief and a chance to get my head on straight. I made the conscious decision there to slow down my pace through the hills. I didn't even maintain the same effort going up them. I wanted to barely be out of breath up everyone of them so that I would have something left in me the last 5 miles. Looking later, I would see I ran two of those miles slower than I did in 2011 when I ran a 3:17. I was not pushing myself. I had wasted so much energy early on that I wanted to save what I had left for the end.

Luckily, the last half of the race saw a decently strong headwind, something I would normally have complained about because it was more than noticeable, but it cooled things down a bit. I still felt hot and thirsty, though. I was struggling to the finish. Normally, the last 5 miles drag on, but this time, they didn't. After Heartbreak Hill, the nice downhill gave me some relief to speed my pace back up. I started to notice that I wasn't getting passed by as many people anymore and others who had been ahead of me for miles were starting to get closer. Still, I wasn't feeling good and wanted nothing more than for it to end. Where the fuck is Hereford?!!! But at the same time, I was picking up the pace. I brought my pace back down to the low 7s. By mile 22, I knew I was going to finish between 3:05-3:07. When I realized that, I wasn't disappointed at all. I was happy knowing that. I was happy just to be finishing! Add on a respectable time (and still sub 3:10 as my B goal), and I felt good about how I was about to finish.
Looking for Hereford. Where IS IT?! Photo by Mike Giberti
The Citgo sign finally came into view! I knew Hereford wasn't too far! I just wanted to be DONE by this point.
So close!!
 Then it finally happened. I was turning on Hereford!! I was done! The rest would just be on autopilot. I was even able to smile for the camera right after the turn onto Boylston.

Home stretch. (Good photo. Terrible quality)
But then it happened. I was all of a sudden Diane in Poltergeist! I could see the finish, but it seemed to keep getting farther away! Here's a clip if you're too young or had no taste in horror movies as a kid to know what I'm talking about. :)

Gianina Lindsey snapped a photo of me with the look of horror on my face at the finish line getting farther and farther away 
But just like the hallway stops stretching for Diane, Boylston stopped stretching for me and I realized I was about to cross the line. It was over. I was done. 3:06:47. 11 minutes slower than my VCM time, but I didn't care! In fact, I didn't care at all because I was all of a sudden dizzy and started slightly hyperventilating. I started stumbling back and forth and realized I was about to go down. So I just stopped, bent over with my hands on my knees and took 3 deep breaths through my nose. I stood up. All set! I was good again. Haha. I spotted Andy Schachat who was walking towards me and gave me a big hug. Then he dragged me over to be interviewed by WMUR Channel 9. I don't remember much of it except that I, of course, used the word "awesome". Haha. People told me they saw me on tv, but I never saw it and couldn't find it online anywhere. Boo. As soon as I was done with them, Nancy Eckerson was waiting to interview me for the Foster's Daily Democrat. Nancy and Andy are the two responsible for my 2015 New Hampshire Female Runner of the Year honor, so it was great to finally meet her in person. She's so nice! I got a little blurb in the paper the next day. Thanks, Nancy. I thanked Andy and then moved back into the stumbling marathon finisher traffic. Got my heat sheet, metal, food. Megan Boucher was standing just over the barricade and stopped me for a quick chat. That was really cool to see her. I wandered down to the baggage area, grabbed my bag and plopped down right there to change clothes. I've perfected the complete outfit change without exposing a single thing. Haha.

Don't know what I'm doing with my arms. You can see the dried sweat on my shirt. 
Once I was done, I walked right out onto the sidewalk and down into Arlington Station. I couldn't walk the .9 to my car. Haha. The station inbound was empty and the ride was free, so I was on a train quickly. Another runner joined me walking out of Govt Center and down the street. He was funny. He couldn't get over how hot the race had been. He said it over and over and over. We parted ways as I headed to the parking garage. Eric Narcisi texted me to let me know that he, Brenna and Michael were at Rockbottom Brewery and had saved me a seat. I got my car (accidentally drove around the Common twice when I got stuck in the right lane haha) and moved it over to the garage underneath the block Rockbottom was on.

I joined the Narcisi's and the group of Tuesday Night Turtles at the table next to us. I think I was there for the next 5 hours! Time got lost after A LOT of beer drinking.
25oz Peanut Butter Stout to start things off
Eric made the HUGE mistake of leaving his sunglasses behind. I'll be giving those back at Big River this weekend, but I've had some fun taking pictures of them this past week and will share all of the photos in a future post. :)
Me with Eric's glasses at Rockbottom. 
By the time I left there, it was past 9pm and I was starving again, so I walked around the block to Boloco and got a burrito. Once I sobered up a bit, I drove all the way home. I had intended to just sleep in my car, but that meant moving my car again. I drove out of the garage, and instead of finding some street parking, I just kept going and drove all the way home. It was almost 1am when I got back, but I still jumped in the shower before zonking out. I was up for almost 24 hours straight. What a painful, fun, crazy, strange day.

So something about Boston lit a fire under my ass. And I all of a sudden feel like a fog has cleared. I'm ready to be serious and focused again. Even though I was definitely dropping out of VCM while I was running, I'm definitely not, and I'm now super excited about it. Even if my body and speed aren't back to what they were pre-injury, I feel like my mind now is. The rest should follow.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Week Pre-Boston Marathon

I definitely took this week really easy. The minor pain I had been having in my right hip, glute and groin all of a sudden seemed worse, and I wanted to really lay off before Boston. I still ran, but I ran slowly and only short distances. I have to admit that it was very nice to kick back for a week. Jump on the trails. Pretty much not have a care in the world about how my runs were going. I was more nervous about the pain and just Boston in general. The weather forecast kept changing from warm to perfect then back to warm, so I just tried to let it go until closer to the weekend.

Sunday 4/10/16- The day after Merrimack, I actually felt pretty good so I went out for a run in the neighborhood. I'm not a person who gets depressed, but I'll be honest. This run depresses me. Haha. I can't stand doing monotonous runs like this, so when I'm doing it, I always wish I were running somewhere better. To keep a better mindset, I added music onto this run and brought Chill along for the first two miles. It ended up being a decent 5.4 miles 7:11/mi pace.

After the run, I was getting John and I ready to go on a hike since the day was so beautiful, but John's friend invited him to go biking with his family at the Fryeburg Fairgrounds. This meant that ONE RARE EVENT WAS ABOUT TO HAPPEN! Alone time for me on a weekend! It was a win-win. John didn't want to go hiking since he wanted to be with his friend. I wanted to go hiking, so I did! I wanted to stay close to the house, though, since I didn't know when John would be coming back, so I opted for a hike on the White Ledge Trail. I was all set to go, so when John left so did I! It felt great to be out there hiking at my own pace and enjoying some solitude. I stopped for a little while at the top of the Ledge to celebrate my alone time with a beer, but just as I cracked it open, this couple, mind you the only other people on the entire trail/mountain, came over and sat RIGHT behind me. They were nice, but I was annoyed that the concept of "personal space" escaped them. An entire viewpoint with plenty of places to sit, and they chose to sit right behind me. I decided to move on at this point with full beer in hand and hiked on completing the entire loop, all while carrying my beer. It was kind of funny.
White Ledge

Bissell Brothers Lux to celebrate my solo hike
I had enough time left after my hike to head down to Sandwich and fill my water jugs up at the spring. John and I got home around the same time. He said he had had a really fun time biking, so it all worked out for both of us that day.

Monday 4/11/16- For some reason I was motivated on Monday morning and decided to get up early before work to get my run in on the treadmill. An easy 5 miles at 7:12/mi pace. It really set my day off right. I felt good, and it was nice to be able to just come home after work and relax. Although, I didn't relax long. I was on-call for the overnight and got called in for 2-hours around 7:15pm. We ended up not getting any calls and just hung out at the base.

Tuesday 4/12/16- Woke up to the pouring rain which made me procrastinate a little on getting out the door. I decided to hit the mountain bike trails over in the Green Hills for a run with Spot.
Trailhead. Pouring rain makes it hard to get out of the car.
Kevin Tilton had mentioned some new trails over there that I hadn't been on, so I decided to hit those up on a nice loop run. It pretty much poured rain the entire time, but I was warm enough. I ran an easy 6.7 miles, including the new-to-me Cardiac Hill. My hip was bothering me quite a bit in the beginning, but once I got warmed up, I didn't feel it at all. When I was done, I was soaking wet, but, fortunately, I had been smart enough to bring dry clothes to change into for the ride home.

I picked John up from his homeschool group and then we hit Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry's. I wanted to get there early this year because we always managed to show up just as the high school was getting out and had to wait in a huge line. No lines this time. The rest of the day was kind of lazy except for John's ninja class.

Wednesday 4/12/16- I opted out of running this morning just to continue with my taking-it-easy week. Plus it meant the extra hour of sleep. Overnight transfers are now a thing of the past, but middle of the night 911s are not, and we had one right at 3am. By the time we were back at the base I was wide awake and had trouble going back to sleep until 5am-ish, so I definitely didn't get a good night's sleep.

Thursday 4/13/16- On to my 10 hour shift in Tamworth. We had two 911s that made the day fly by. I walked 2 miles on the treadmill at the base and then sat outside in my car enjoying the gorgeous weather. Not a bad work day at all.
Hanging out in my car at work. Haha
 After work, I decided to drive nearby to Freedom for a run on the Jackman Ridge Trail and up and over Mary's Mountain. The last time I had run this route, I brought along the dogs and was chased by millions of deer flies. This time I had no dogs or deer flies to worry about, so I ran it at a quick pace. The run is a mix of dirt road and trail with the climb up Mary's Mountain in the middle. 6 miles total at a 7:56/mi pace...which was way faster than my last time running it at a 9:20/mi pace. I'd say I've come a long way since that run in 2014. The run felt really good.

On Mary's Mountain. I guess I was still out of breath when I took this. Haha. 
Friday 4/15/16- I had so been looking forward to Friday!!! I had a whole morning in Boston planned out and was so excited about it. The 4am alarm wasn't exciting, but I got over that quickly and hit the road at 4:30am...only to realize I forgot my Boston Marathon bib pickup card. I could have kept going since I know you can get new ones there. But I was only 5 minutes away and decided to turn around and go back for mine. Still had me back on the road by 4:40am. I only hit very minor traffic on the Tobin Bridge and then easily found street parking right near the Convention Center. I wanted to do something fun while I was there and had seen the Zoom Multisport Facebook Event for a run around the Back Bay that spelled out "Boston". Kind of cheesy, but I still thought it was be fun. The group run was at 6am, but they had marked the course in chalk on the sidewalks so that people could do the course any time that day. Although it was a lot of stopping and starting at the road crossings, it really was a total blast. Came out to 4.4 miles, I took some pictures along the way. I even stopped to pay my parking meter via an app while I was running. I love the city.

My Strava run map
Course marking by Zoom Multisports

Beautiful morning

Marathon finish line. Road wasn't completely closed yet.
The 4.4 miles didn't quite cut it, so I decided to run a little more starting at the end of the "N" and running around Boston Common and the Public Garden, back down Boylston and a right to my car on Gloucester. I tried to run it a little on the quick side. 2.1 miles at 7.07/mi.
I changed clothes in my car then walked down to the Pour House on Boylston for breakfast. The place was PACKED. I got the very last seat at the bar. This place was cool, and the bartender made my day by carding me and then saying, "Wow. You have such a young face," when she saw my age. Haha. I think that was a compliment unless you add, "...for someone so old," at the end of that. She was cool, and the place was filled with regulars whom she all knew. The breakfast was really was the Guinness I ordered. The good thing about walking into a bar alone is you end up chatting with the people next to you and the bartender. Good times, and the perfect choice for my all-too-short morning in Boston.
Guinness for breakfast

Pour House 
After breakfast, my parking meter was about to expire, so I moved my car to a different street where I had spotted open spaces during my run, then walked over to the Boston Marathon Expo. Going on a Friday morning is truly the way to go. No crowds, no lines. It was actually enjoyable for the first time, and I walked around the expo for an hour after picking up my bib# and bag. I bought some new shoes at Brooks, the Neuro, that I ended up wearing in the race on Monday. I grabbed all the free samples I could, including the Sam Adams 26.2 beer and then finally had to leave in order to get home to pick up John from his homeschool group at 3pm. It was a good time, and I might go down to Boston again some Friday morning in the near future for a run and breakfast.
My bib and bag (after I had recycled nearly everything in it)

What the expo looks like at 10am on Friday

What the expo looks like at 10am on Friday

What the expo looks like at 10am on Friday

Free beer? Yes, please. Sam 26.2

Am I the only one who thought the women's Official Boston Marathon jacket was HIDEOUS this year?
I got home in enough time to pick up the dogs and walk them around Tin Mountain for 20 minutes while John finished up his homeschool group.

Saturday April 16, 2016- I decided to make Saturday a zero day to rest the legs a little. I'm a firm believer that my body needs days off to rest and recuperate right now. It has not been the same since I got injured, and my 0-to-60 marathon training plan probably hasn't helped. I started all over from scratch the first week of December, with mostly easy running until Christmas, and managed to get myself into decent marathon shape in the 3 months following. My body was rebelling, and I was starting to get worried about Monday. I was even having doubts that I would finish the race, since I was really feeling the right hip and glute. I felt like Saturday needed to be an easy day. I still had a lot of errands to run, though, and wanted to take an easy walk with John at the dogs.

I scored at the transfer station when some dude unloaded a wind surfer and surfboard out of his car and dropped them in the take-it-or-leave-it pile. I was on that so fast. I've been wanting a paddle board for years, but they are way out of my price range, so my next best bet was to find an old surfboard to use as a makeshift one. Granted, they aren't nearly as stable, but I had heard of people using them as a substitute. I felt like I had won the lottery, I was so excited! The only problem was fitting them in my car. I managed to just squeeze them in, but due to the obstructed view out my right window, I could only take right turns until we got home again. Haha.

I took John over to Sherman Farm from there to see the farm animals. It ended up not being super exciting, so we didn't stay very long.

We finished up our errands of only right turns, dropped the boards and recycle bins at the house, picked up the dogs and then went for a walk in the Albany Town Forest. John didn't complain once and even ran a lot along the trail. I think the nice weather is making it more fun for him to be out. John's friend came over for a sleepover when we got home, so he had a really good day all around. I was so antsy, that I spent over 3 hours cleaning and fixing up John's room. I have to stay in it soon when my parents come to visit, so I wanted that room clean and organized. I would have had John help, but since his friend was there, I just got on a roll and did it myself.
Albany Town Forest

Proof he runs
Sunday, April 17, 2016- T-minus 1-day until Boston, and the nerves were setting in. Reality hit me that it was here. I felt like I had no idea how it was going to go, but at the same time, I envisioned it going ok. The day before, I was convinced I would DNF. Today, I thought, "Well, maybe a 2:59 would be feasible." That was when I thought the temperature was still going to be in the upper 50s. I still wasn't holding myself to that. I knew I would be happy as long as it was a sub-3:10. With nerves, I could not rest at all on Sunday. I did sleep in fairly late, but once I was up, I was bouncing from one thing to another. Coffee, packing bags, making sweet potato pancakes, cleaning dishes, laundry. I couldn't sit still. I decided to get on the treadmill to calm the nerves. It was a gorgeous day outside, but I wanted to avoid running any hills. Treadmill was my only option. I ran an easy, slow 3 miles at no elevation in my new Brooks shoes to test them out. I felt really good and loved the shoes. I tried to envision myself in Boston the next day running well, but other thoughts were distracting me.
2012 pic of me in a Boston Marathon hat from 1982

When I finished my run, I changed clothes, packed up a backpack and took John down to Moultonborough for a hike up to the Red Hill Fire Tower. This was obviously not going to be a day of rest, but there was no way I wasn't getting my kid out for a hike on this beautiful day. This hike is fairly easy and at John's pace, I knew I wouldn't be exerting much effort. John talked about his video games the whole hike up the mountain while eating popcorn at the same time. He seemed to really be enjoying the time. We stayed up at the top for awhile; John sat on the fire tower looking out at the view while this nice girl talked my ear off. Haha. The hike down was quick since John ran most of it.

When we were done with the hike, I ran down to the grocery store in Center Harbor to grab the rest of the things I needed for dinner and the next morning before the race. Then it was home to prep for the marathon. I couldn't believe Boston was the next morning! I thought I was mostly set, but I spent HOURS getting everything together, epsom salt bath, making dinner, doing the dishes. Then, for some reason, I felt a need to sweep the whole house and put away all of the laundry. I think I was just too nervous and wanted to have things done before I left at 2:30am. I finally closed my eyes at 10:15pm with the alarm clock set for 2am. I'm surprised I was able to sleep, but I was out like a light until that alarm went off.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

2016 Merrimack River Trail Race

Or alternately titled The Year of Expected Disappointments. Seems contradictory because I'm going into every race with the right expectations, but I'm leaving every race still disappointed. This shouldn't be happening; there should be no disappointments. I know where I am right now, and it's not where I was a year ago. Not even close. But I cannot help but be disappointed. (The only exception to this would be my 5K PR at An Ras Mor; that must have been a fluke.) Merrimack was no exception. I went into it knowing I wouldn't run it as fast as last year, but seeing as I got off course and lost time last year, I thought my time would be closer than it was. But then I have to remember that I was faster last year, and Merrimack was one of my best efforts of 2015.

I arrived pretty early to the race and caught up with my CMS teammates, Jenn Brooks and Regina Loiacano, for an easy 2-mile warm up on the course. The temps weren't too bad, but for some reason, we all felt cold. 2015 was run in May in much warmer temps, but the course was pretty much the same. A little muddy the first (and last) 100 yards with the rest of the course basically bone dry. Once we were done, I went back out for a short 1/2 mile run to avoid the porta potty line, came back to the car to finish getting ready and made sure John was all set. Then I headed to the start line. It was a stacked field for both men and women, so I knew there would be no podium for me today, but that wasn't my main focus anyway. My goal was finishing with a race I was happy with. Looking around as the RD gave out race instructions, I could see SO many familiar faces in the crowd; I couldn't believe how many people I've gotten to know in the last year who were lined up there. And so many impressive people, too!! I felt honored to be racing amongst all of them.

It was time to line up and at, "Cayuga!" we were off. The course immediately goes into a narrow, muddy path that kind of forces you to be stuck wherever you are, but it doesn't last long as the field opened up fast. Jenn and Regina shot out ahead, and I would only come within a few steps of them very briefly over the course. Kim Nedeau, who would go on to win for the women, and break the CR, ended up in front of me. She's a bit tentative on technical footing, so I passed for a very short time before the course smoothed out and she was gone, only to be seen again when she was on her way back to the finish as I was on my way to the turnaround. I ended up right behind Kehr Davis, whom I have never beaten, and Ginger Reiner, who schooled me twice in the 3000m on the indoor track this year. Kehr was running the perfect pace, and it reminded me of 2014 Roaring Falls when I ran the entire race the exact same distance behind, with her never gaining much distance on me and me never catching up. Both Kehr and I passed Ginger on the first downhill, and our positions pretty much stayed set from this point on for the entire race. Kehr briefly got in front of Jenn at one point, but she then fell back to running in front of me, never gaining, never losing for the entire rest of the race. She was good to have there, for sure, because she was pulling me along, and I never felt like I was slacking once. I truly gave 100% of what I have right now, and for that I should be satisfied, but it hurt so much more. When we reached the power lines, I couldn't believe how much extra effort I had to put into it to get up that steep hill. I ended up power hiking all of it.

Along the course- Photo by Christian Wiley

Along the course- Photo by Christian Wiley
After we crossed the power lines, I started to get nervous as we neared wherever it was I went off-course last year. I had felt like a total moron for going off-course (I wasn't alone, but still)...until I saw where we went off-course. Where the race course turns a sharp left, the wrong trail continues straight! It really wasn't that dumb of a mistake after all! Fortunately, though, there was no questioning the course this year. They had taped off this intersection, and I breathed a sigh of relief knowing I was headed the right direction. It was right around this point where we started to see the lead runners coming at us. I felt like a cheering squad and didn't even have the breath for it. I stayed out of their way the best I could and hoped those behind me would do the same thing. I got to the turn around still really close to Jenn and Regina and directly behind Kehr. I felt good. Ginger and Heather Mahoney weren't too far back from there. Most of the oncoming runners were very courteous and stepped aside, but almost in the same place as last year, I ended up shoulder-checking some woman. I felt bad, since this year it was unintentional, but I had no breath left to apologize and just kept going. I was 7th woman at this point and did not want to lose it. I gave everything I had to keep up with Kehr. Jenn and Regina disappeared quickly, and it pretty much just ended up being Kehr and me for the last 4 miles. The closest runner was a guy maybe 30 seconds back for that entire time. This would be the finish order. Kehr finishing 8 seconds ahead of me in 6th woman, and, me, finishing in 1:10:47 as 7th woman. When I saw the time, I was crushed. I shouldn't have been, but I was! I finished in 1:09:33 in 2015 AFTER going off course, and I still finished 1:14 slower!! I couldn't contain my disappointment, but I quickly let it fade and talked to a few people before heading to the car to check on John.

Coming into the finish. I look weird. Photo by Mike Giberti

I was going to cool down with Spot and Chill, but John said he wanted to join me for a walk. If my kid ever says he WANTS to walk with me, I'll choose that any day over a cool down. We walked Spot and Chill around the buildings and then walked part of the River Trail that wasn't part of the course. No one was on this section, so I was able to let them off leash. When we got back, I changed clothes then headed over for the awards and raffle. Second year in a row to win nothing in the fun raffle!! haha.

I was heading back to my car when all of a sudden to my right in the parking lot were Mike Giberti, Dave Giberti, Heather Mahoney and Scott Mindel all holding up Heady Toppers! I did a quick 90 degree turn and before I knew it, a Heady Topper was placed in my hand. Eric Narcisi must have smelled the Heady from across the lot because he all of a sudden appeared and started drinking with us. My kind of way to end a race. All that disappointment was gone with those brain cells.

Drinking in parking lot

Eric, me, Mike, Heather and Scott
John and I had a gift certificate to redeem from the Snowflake Shuffle, so we stopped at Cactus Jack's in Manchester on the way home. I was starving, but ate way too much food. I could only eat one small thing later on at 10pm. My second burger taco made a second dinner for Sunday night! We had a good time, though.
That mocktail sure resembles a milkshake. Haha

Burger Tacos

When we got home, I took the big dogs up Heavenly Hill. It was so nice out that I hung out on the ledge for awhile. All disappointment from the day's race was gone, and I felt content. It was time to focus on the Boston Marathon, just over a week away. I'm not holding out much hope for a decent performance. I'm in too much pain still, stressed out from my life in general, and I'm just not there yet. If you feel inclined to follow me, though, my bib# is 2634. Athlete Alerts. I'll do the best I have in me now, but I fully expect an expected disappointment.
Heavenly Hill