Friday, May 27, 2016

Battle Road Twilight Track Meet #2 10,000m

I was so looking forward to the announcement of this year's USATF-NE All Terrain Series (ATR) to be announced...until I saw the outdoor track event. The 10,000m!!! On a track!! Oh my god!!! Evilness! I couldn't even imagine running that far on the track. Last year's 5000m was AWFUL. Now, I had to do double that?!! I considered skipping this one since we only had to do 5 out of 7 races, but then the snowshoe race was cancelled. My best event!! Ugh! And then I realized that I can't do the X-C race because it's the same day as the Manchester Marathon, so I thought I had to do the 10,000m. Ugh. The horror of it all!! So I perused the available races and found that the only one I could fit into my schedule was the Twilight Meet #2 at UMass Lowell on May 21st. I had to think about this one for awhile because it was a week before the Vermont City Marathon, but finally decided to bite the bullet and signed up for it. At this point I had no idea that the ATR Series had been changed to best 4 out of 6. So for a month and a half, I have been dreading this meet. I had no idea how to run a 10K on a track. I didn't even know what the splits should be per lap.

May 21st finally rolled around. The meet was in the evening, so I had deal with the nerves all day. John stayed at his friend's house until 1:30pm, so I got up and took the dogs to the Albany Town Forest for a 4 mile walk.
Chill in the Swift River

I came home, did some core work and then sunbathed for awhile. I couldn't sit still any longer so I got on a house cleaning kick for 3 hours. John came home and played his video games for about an hour while I showered and got ready. It was 80 degrees here! I was so worried about the heat during the meet at this point. I was SO happy that I had had a Central Mass Striders sports bra made for racing in the heat. I find the singlet way too warm and tend to wear sports bras to race in the summer, so I asked Steve Laska if he would mind me having a sports bra made. He was game, so had this one made.

John and I finally hit the road. It really isn't too bad of a ride down. Just over 2 hours. We stopped at Five Guys and Starbucks in Dover. Five Guys for John's dinner and Starbucks for a coffee for me. I was going to be tired by the time this race started at 8:10pm! Another quick stop at Trader Joe's in Newington to get a few things and something for me to eat for dinner after the meet. We still made it to Lowell with plenty of time to spare. When we got out of the car, it felt cold out! It went from 80 degrees at my house to around 60 and cloudy and breezy. What a difference. I didn't even bring a jacket. I had my long sleeve CMS shirt, fortunately. John had a sweatshirt and parked himself on the last row of the bleachers.
John in the bleachers

I didn't feel so out of place and clueless this time around like I did at last year's Twilight Meet. I saw familiar faces. Talked to Scott Mindel and Scott Mason, then Heather Mahoney spotted me and came up to the top of the bleachers with her stuff. My friend, Terry Ballou, was running the 1500m, so I went down to the track with Scott Mason to watch. Terry is the one who smokes me in the Millen Mile every year. I was only 1 second off last year, so I'm hoping to give her another run for her money in September, but we'll see. She ran the 1500m in 5:01. I don't think I could come close to that right now.
Picture of Scott and Terry. 
After Terry's race was over, I went down to get my shoulder and hip numbers. I was seeded 14th, 3rd from last for the women. Haha. That's exactly where I would finish, too. I chatted with Terry and some of her masters track friends, then Heather Mahoney and I headed out for a warm up. It had seemed so cool out, but I was immediately hot and noticed how humid it was. I knew I'd still opt for the sports bra and no shirt for the race. Heather and I ran 2 miles at a pretty slow pace. I wasn't looking to do anything crazy before this torture session.

When we got back, the elite men for the 10,000m were already underway to completing their 25 laps. I cheered on both Scotts (Leslie and Mindel) as they went around and around and around and... After what seemed like forever already, the announcer said, "....and with 17 laps to go...". Oh.My.God. What an awful thing to say!! Haha. This made me more nervous! And then I saw the look on their faces. They were suffering! Oh man. What was I about to do?! At least the weather was cool, and they turned on the track lights. That was going to be kind of cool. I was ready to get this show on the road to just get it over with.

It was finally time. We lined up on the line and off we went. I decided to hang behind Heather as best I could. She's more experienced at track than me, and I needed someone to follow. Halfway through the first lap, we passed Amanda Wright and her friends who called out our split and cheered. They would end up doing this for us for all 25 laps. It was awesome because they really helped me get through this race, and if it weren't for them, I would have had no idea what my splits were. After the first 3 or 4 laps, I started to realized that this race wasn't so bad after all. I think the cooler temps and the slower pace (compared to the 5000m) made it a little bit easier. Not saying I wasn't suffering out there, but it just wasn't as bad as the previous year's 5000m. On lap 6, Heather started to majorly slow, and I realized I was catching up to her fast. This worried me since she should have been pulling away, but when I caught her, she said she was rigging up. Ugh. I was sorry to hear this, but I hoped she would be able to get it back for a good finish.
Me catching up to Heather on lap 6
The first half of the race, I was pretty consistent running mostly 92 sec splits. I was also consistent at catching bugs in my eyes and mouth. Not something I expected, but the track lights attracted bugs galore, and I found myself having to keep my eyes down to avoid them getting into my eyes. I ended up spitting out 2. I even said, "Fucking bugs!" out loud at one point. Haha. I just kept plugging away, lap after lap. I cheered on Diane Levesque the best I could every time I passed her, but I was losing it. My second half slowed but also stayed pretty consistent with mostly 96 sec splits. Whatever. I didn't care. With 8 laps to go, I wanted to die. That was 2 more miles. Ugh. Chris Mahoney was cheering Heather and me on, and with each lap, I could hear him cheering on Heather closer and closer to me. I knew Heather hadn't lost it after all, and with 5 laps to go, she blew past me. I was happy to see her back in the game. She would end up over 30 seconds on me by the finish.
Somewhere in the middle laps
When we got down to the final 2 laps, I felt so much relief. It was almost over. I couldn't wait. I knew already that my time was going to suck but that it would at least be under 40. Finally, I came through the finish line. 25 laps!!! 39:20. A pretty sucky time for me for a 10K, but I really didn't care. I had just finished a 10,000m run on a track. That was a feat in and of itself. I was happy to have done it and to never have to do it again!

I gathered John, said goodbye to Heather and Scott. From the parking lot, I cheered Diane on through her last laps and then we hit the road. I was starving at this point and scarfed down a turkey club wrap. John slept the rest of the way home. It was after midnight by the time we got home, but I needed a beer after the suffering on the track.
Probably the best blueberry beer I've ever had. No joke. Look on Untappd. I'm not the only one who thinks so. 
As far as the ATR goes after 3 events, I'm now in 3rd place. I don't think I'll hold that, though. Loon and Bobby Doyle will push me back for sure. I'm hoping they change out Merrimack and Loon for different races next year. More technical races for both. These two are too easy for the roadies-only crowd to jump into and do well. Haha.

So next up, a week of easy running and then back to Burlington for the Vermont City Marathon. What a difference a year makes. I am so not in the shape I was last year for it, but oh well. At this point, my goal is just to finish. The predicted highs are in the 80s. I can see Boston 2012 all over again. Oh well. There's always the next one!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Taper Time from....

...limbo land. I suppose I should be doing the Leslie-type tapering thing, but I really don't know what I'm doing right now. Haha. It may appear that all that BS about getting serious has been thrown out the window, but it actually hasn't. I really am taking shit seriously. It's just been a weird 5 weeks since Boston knowing that I'm running another marathon on the 29th. I had to recover from Boston...but I didn't really ever recover from it. I had so many important-to-me races in between. So now, I don't know how it's going to go at VCM, especially if the weather is warm. I've hardly been on the roads at all because I found my body felt a lot better if I stayed off of them. Will this hurt my race performance? I don't know. What I do know is that I did way too much last week and really made an effort to turn that around this past week. I did three hard runs and kept the rest pretty mellow. I felt like I was recovering and tapering at the same time, and maybe I was! I have no idea. But I AM taking VCM seriously. That doesn't mean I expect to run as well as I did last year, but I do plan on going out there and giving 100% of everything I have that day.

Monday, May 16, 2016- Usual 10-hour shift at work. It was a fairly cold and windy day. The higher summits were covered in snow. I had to snap a picture of Chocorua as we drove by in the ambulance. Green at the bottom and snow on the top. The lighting wasn't great, but you can still kind of make it out.

I was on-call for the following 14 hours after that, so I ran close to the base. Decided to go check out the trail around White Lake. I can't believe I had never done it. I didn't even know it existed! I asked Kevin Tilton earlier in the day if a trail around the lake existed, and even though he said yes, I still wasn't expecting a REAL trail. As in signed. And named!! Around the Lake Trail. I can't believe I didn't know about this. I'm supposed to know most of the trails around by now, so I'm hanging my head in shame over this one. Haha. The park is still closed, so I only saw 3 people the entire time I was in there. It's so quiet and peaceful when it's closed, and White Lake is beautiful.
White Lake in Tamworth

You knew this was coming. Yes, I still wear my aR Buff. It's one of my favorite ones.
Saw two loons as I was running the trail.
Each loop around the lake was right around 1.9 miles, so I did two loops plus the run to and from the car. 4.5 miles, 8:21/mi pace. Totally flat. Super easy, but beautiful, run. Definitely what I needed after the previous week and Sleepy Hollow the previous day. I'll probably be running here more often now that I know about it.

Once home, I did an easy strength training workout. Not really looking to get buff, just trying to tone up the upper body a bit after its running-only stint for the last year and a half. Showered. Ate dinner. Watched some tv. Just about to climb into bed..., and then I got called into work. haha. I wasn't there long, fortunately, so I was back home and in my bed where I stayed the rest of the night.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016- For some reason, I woke up needing to run on pavement, but I didn't want to run any huge hills and opted for the Mountain Division Trail in Fryeburg. It had been awhile since I last ran it (funny enough; it was almost a year to the day), so I thought it would be nice to get back out there. Pavement without cars is always a huge plus in my book. I planned to make it a quick run since it's fairly flat (except the 1st and last miles), and I was surprised to find my pace so quick for the 4 miles out. 6:41, 6:40, 6:31, 6:32. I knew my legs weren't recovered from Sleepy Hollow enough to be running that speed with such ease. Must be a tailwind...and a good one. Haha. That meant I was going to hit a pretty hefty headwind on the way back, and sure enough, it was strong! I felt like I was giving double the effort, and I still slowed significantly on the way back with the last 4 miles at 6:56, 6:55, 6:58, 7:02. At least it was consistent! 8 miles total. Average pace of 6:47/mi, so not horrible! Definitely felt good to go that hard, for sure, and I was pleased with my effort against that wind.

After John came home, I had an appointment to follow through on my midlife crisis present to myself. Chuckle. I briefly mentioned it here months ago, and finally, decided to get it done...

Tree tattoo by Albie Rock at White Mountain Tattoo in Conway
It was only last Fall that I swore I never wanted another tattoo again, and then the next week, I wanted one. That's how I roll, though. I'm not afraid to change my mind. I figured why the hell not. It's not like my skin is getting more youthful with age. Haha. And it kind of goes along with my I-don't-give-a-fuck-what-people-think attitude. Although I wasn't stupid and purposely had it placed where it can be covered up, even with short sleeves, to prevent any future job issues. I'll admit I was pretty nervous about it that morning, but I was excited about it, too. Albie, the tattoo artist really impressed me; he took one 10 second look of my idea on my phone, then proceeded to recreate it perfectly. It hurt, but not really, and I think that if you can't handle this, then you're a wimp. Haha. I love it. I really do. I have plans for the other arm, too, but tattoos are expensive, so it's going to be awhile for that one.

It was so odd for a Tuesday, but it was actually gorgeous outside, so right after I got the tattoo, John and I went for a walk around Pudding Pond with Spot and Phoenix. Spring was just all of a sudden here, and the bugs weren't bad at all yet, so we both really enjoyed the walk.

Bugs weren't bad, but John still wanted to wear his head net. haha.

Pudding Pond
The rest of the day was a typical Tuesday. Home for a few hours, ninja class and then back home. Nothing too exciting.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016- Yep, the usual. 5 mile run on the treadmill to start off my day before the 34 hour shift. Kept the pace slower than normal, but still made it a progression run with an average 7:20/mi. Added the elevation back in that I had cut out the week before. Felt good. These runs are really just to get something in. I don't focus too much on how good or bad it is. Just getting myself out of bed at 4:30am to do it is what takes the most effort.

Work wasn't crazy busy, but we had a decent number of calls. Made the day go by faster anyway. But just like Monday, the second I sat on the bed ready to go to sleep, we got the tone drop that will make you scurry to the ambulance in a matter of seconds. "Not conscious, not breathing, CPR in progress." I had the ambulance at 60 mph going down the strip in North Conway. North Conway Fire was already on scene, and we all figured out our jobs that needed to be done. And, though it rarely happens, the patient was brought back. Not conscious, not breathing to talking to us in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. It was pretty awesome. Most people don't make it, but this person just happened to go down among friends who started CPR immediately. It can make a difference, and it did for this guy. He now has another chance at life.

Thursday, May 19, 2016- North Conway Base->Starbucks->Tamworth Base. My typical Thursday morning which will be changing  in a month to North Conway Base->Starbucks->Home->Epic Long Run. Yay!!! Two 24 hour shifts, Monday and Wednesday, giving me Thursdays completely free. I'm not excited about it. Nooooo. Not at all.

Okay, okay. That's a lie. It's more like this...

Cannot freakin' wait, but, anyway, back to the Thursday where I was still on a 34 hour shift....

There were a few calls. We took the first one, but because of the CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch) system and the location of the call, Conway Ambulance also got toned for the call. Even though it's in our coverage area, they happen to be much closer and got to the scene before us. We were cancelled just prior to our arrival and waved to the other crews as we drove by the scene on our way to loop back to the base. And that was the extent of our calls that day. I did get on the base treadmill for a 1.6 mile walk early afternoon, and then at 5pm, I changed clothes and bolted out the door for the drive up to Week #2 of the Trail Running Series at Great Glen Trails. It was pouring rain for the drive up, but as soon as I got there, the rain ended, and we were left with perfect, cool weather. I was feeling a bit off (sounds familiar) when I got out of the car, and as soon as I started running, I could feel soreness and fatigue in the legs. I still decided to go all out to try and hold my #1 spot for the women. The course ended up being about .2 shorter, taking out 2 short climbs, so you think I would have run it faster on average, but my legs weren't having it. 3.2 miles at a 7:18/mi pace. 3 seconds slower on average than the previous week. Still managed to pull off 1st woman again, even though Margaret definitely closed the gap a bit. Still undecided on whether to go all out or just make it a fun run during Week#3 since it's only 3 days before VCM. 
GGT Week#2 results
The legs felt really tired after I finished, so I had a feeling I wouldn't make it to 4000ft on the Mt Washington Auto Rd this time. That assumption was correct. It wasn't so much the climbing I was worried about, but the 4-mile run down. I had a Saturday night race coming up and thought that long downhill run might do me in, so I decided to just run up to Mile 2. It was definitely the right choice. My legs were even tired on the way up. I did manage to slow down mile 1 and speed up mile 2 in comparison to the previous week which I think was good. The road was completely quiet, as usual. No other people around. It started to drizzle a little bit just as I got to the Mile 2 sign, but then quickly went away as I started back down. 4 miles total. 11:16, 12:42, 8:37, 8:15 for the four splits. Not bad. 

Thursday night's beer choice
Friday, May 20, 2016- Woke up around 7am. Had a quick cup of coffee, then headed out from home on an easy run up Heavenly Hill and over to the Tin Mountain trails. John's dad had training at work and was dropping John off early with me, so I had to get back home. Worked out perfectly, though, since I only wanted to run something short and easy. Brought Spot along. 4.8 miles on the windy, technical trails. Hard to believe my race there is coming up so quickly! In fact, that's what we did part of the afternoon. Ordered bagels and bought awards. Once we were done with that, I signed John up for the Conway Rec's Track and Field program. He's only doing it because his best friend is, but I won't lie that I'm crossing my fingers in hopes of him liking it. :) I had to buy him running shoes for that and then we were off on a short mountain bike ride in the Green Hills. A short 1.7 mile loop on Pillar-to-Pond and Muffler Trails.

We cut the bike ride short because John got an invite from his best friend for a sleepover that night, and we needed to get home. John was really excited. Even though, he's spent the night with other family and his cousins, this would actually be his first real sleepover with a friend. It was going to be weird not having him there on a Friday night, but knowing that he was excited to go and would have a good time made me really excited to have a Friday night to myself!! What's a girl to do?! Well, for this girl, it was an obvious choice. Find good beer. haha. For years, I've been wanting to check out Ebenezer's Pub in Lovell, Maine, but for some reason, I've just never gone there, so I decided tonight was a good night for it. I got really dressed up... for backwoods Maine, which meant a skirt instead of pants or shorts, and drove out there.  Ebenezer's Pub sits on a golf course right off  Rt 5. It's pretty and quiet, and just so happens to be on Travel+Leisure's list of America's Best Beer Bars. I chose to sit outside because the night was beautiful. The temperature was starting to drop, and by the end of my time there, I would be the only one out on the porch, but that was fine with me. I'd rather have it all to myself anyway. Haha. The beer list did not disappoint...except they were out of the first beer I ordered! Haha. No big deal. The bartender suggested something similar, so I decided to try it. Brasserie Vapeur's Saison de Pipaix, a tasty Belgian saison. It was very good and the right choice to start off with prior to eating dinner. After scarfing down a burger and my glass sitting empty for 10 minutes, the server came over to ask if I was all set and wanted anything else. Of course, I did! Another beer! I got Ebenezer's own brew (named the Lively Brewing Co) Biere de Needham, a tasty stout. I took my time enjoying this one and just being out there on the porch. My server was actually very sweet, and I talked to her a little bit since she wasn't busy. Someone from the kitchen came out to get some fresh air, looked at me and said, "Please tell me you aren't here alone!" Yes, I am. And I am enjoying it. Haha. 

Stealth selfie. Didn't want to people to see me taking it so I made sure no one was looking when I did. Haha.
Knowing I had a race the next day, I couldn't really go out and do much more. And I wasn't really up for it anyway, so I just went home and watched a movie. Pretty dull night for having it to myself for once, but I didn't mind. Dinner was nice and enough.

Monday, May 23, 2016

2016 Sleepy Hollow Mountain Race

It felt like just yesterday we were at Sleepy Hollow. So hard to believe it had been a year already! I had had an awesome race in 2015, so it was kind of hard knowing I wasn't going into this year's race in the same shape, but I was still looking forward to it. It's one of my favorite races of the year. I love the noon start time which means we don't have to go up there the night before, and it's not too early of a wake-up time. Makes for a late day, but I don't mind it. Unfortunately, none of that helped me. When my alarm went off at 6am, I felt like I had been drugged. I could barely open my eyes and I felt like immediately passing right back out. I was almost dizzy. I decided that I needed to stay in bed a little longer, so I pushed our leave time to a little later and dozed off for another 30 minutes. This did actually help a lot. I was able to get right up and start getting ready. I still felt really groggy and tired, but not so much that I couldn't get myself together and get John and me out of the door.

The weather was on the cool, rainy side for the drive up. I much prefer to have this type of weather than hot and humid any day. I wasn't feeling too tired for the drive, but when I stepped out of my car at the race, my whole body was stiff, and the legs felt tired. I shouldn't have been surprised. I pushed myself a little too much during the week, and now, I was feeling the repercussions of that. My own fault, but I actually thought I might be able to rally after taking Saturday easy. No such luck. Oops.

Anyway, as soon as I stepped out of my car, I was surrounded by so many familiar faces. It was so good to see everyone again! I love these people in the mountain running community. Felt like I was back home among friends. I said a lot of "hi's" and caught up with people just walking to and from my car to the bib pick up. It was so nice to be back here. Once I got back to my car, I got ready for a warm up, and John decided he wanted to come up the round house porch to hang out for the race. I left him at a table there, and started to warm up. I started uphill, and within 50 yards, I was unusually out of breath, and my legs hurt. Not good. Stopped to talk to Scott Mason for a few minutes about the Darth Vader section addition, then went on my way to run the first climb. There was a course change for this section, as well, and I wanted to know what it was. I had misunderstood the change from the description and realized that about 3/4 of the first climb was still the same. That was good since I knew the climb well. The new part was a left onto single track before making your way to the top. This was good insight so that I would know to attempt to get myself in a good place before the single track. I ran up to the top and then ran the opposite direction of the course until meeting back up with the downhill section on miles 3 & 4 and then back to John for 2 miles total. I ran all of this super slow, but not because I wanted to, but because I had to. I was already hurting. I was pretty convinced that the race was not going to go well. The fatigue in my legs was really noticeable, and I still felt a little tired. Oh well. I was still going to give 100% effort no matter what, even if it wasn't my best.

I got ready to race. Opted for my short-sleeve CMS shirt instead of the singlet due to the cool weather. I would end up dressed perfectly for the weather. I thought I would be the only CMS woman there, but it turned out two other women showed up giving us enough to score as a team. Awesome. Over 200 people lined up at the start. I lined up near the front, but a good 5 rows back. This race always attracts a fast group of men, so I typically line up near the front but not so much that I'll get in their way. Paul Kirsch and Kasie Enman gave the pre-race announcements and finally started us off! I'm always really nervous before this one at the start for some reason, so it was a relief to get going. Everyone started off fast, including me. I felt the burn in my legs immediately. As soon as we hit the woods, I decided to cut my speed back a bit. My heart rate was through the roof, and my legs felt like junk. This is typical for this start, but I just didn't feel right. I dropped back to 4th woman pretty quickly, as I was getting passed right off the bat. About 3/4 of the way up, I was passed by Emily Hannah, the eventual women's winner. I had no idea who she was, but I noticed she looked super young and was wearing some sort of college team singlet. She looked super strong and made her way into 1st very quickly. Once the trail hit the single track, people ahead started to really slow, so I was able to pass two more women and a few of the men getting myself into 3rd for women. Emily was already passed the Queen of the Mountain point by the time it even came into my view. I was gaining on the 2nd woman pretty quickly, but she still made it to the top ahead of me. I knew the downhill coming up was going to be my strength on getting a gain, so I just waited to see how the second woman's downhill, technical skills were. Emily was GONE, so I knew right then that she was also good on the downhill and that I would never catch her. The second woman was very tentative, so I decided to go ahead and blow past her. The trail was a bit muddy and technical, but I just flew down this section passing a lot of people. It's where I've made the most gain every year, so I know not to hold back here. It's a LONG downhill, but it's also a lot of fun. Changing gears at the bottom to head back uphill is the hardest part. And we were about to head into the new part of the course.

I had no idea what to expect except that the climb back up to the top (the same point as KOM and QOM) was a LONG one. The downhill had helped me out of my funk a bit. I was started to feel more like myself after we passed mile 2. Even though we were climbing, my legs weren't hurting as much. We finally passed a sign for Darth Vader and thus began a long set of switchbacks going up, up, up. I loved this part, though. The grade on the switchbacks is definitely less so the running was a bit easier, and it was cool to look up and down and see the other racers ahead and behind.
Scott Mason got a shot from the Darth Vader section. Trail here was very narrow.

Despite the easier grade, it was still a long climb, and once we were off the switchbacks, we hit a really short, but steep incline that I powehiked up. I actually passed two people, and it was only about 10 yards. Sometimes my powerhike is way faster than running. We crested the top, and then it was down, down, down on the familiar course from the years past. I know this section pretty well, and I was all of a sudden feeling awesome. I caught up with Maxim Lamoth, a usual from the mountain circuit. He was hurting, but he did not want me to pass him, so he kept surging ahead of me on the ups. I would just catch him on the downs. We would run like this the rest of the race, and it was kind of funny how adamant he was about not letting me pass him.

We came down to the finish area and proceeded onto the final climb of the race. The first section was slightly different as it was moved off of the single track and onto a double track, but the distance was comparable, and it wasn't long before we joined the single track/old course again for the climb up to the ledge. I love this section, and I remember how hard it was for me the first time I raced it in 2013. I think I walked a good portion of it then too. I haven't walked any of it since. I don't even consider it a difficult section now except just for the fact that it's so late in the race and the legs are fatigued. But knowing the course, I knew we had a LONG downhill coming up before the finish, and I always go ALL out here. The trail was muddy and a bit rough, reminiscent of 2014, so I had to watch the footing a bit. My ankle gave out on me once and sent me lurching forward just about to fall on my face when I was able to catch myself and stay upright. It was definitely a close one. By the time we reached the bottom of the hill right before the finish, I was right on Maxim's heels. He turned around with a look of panic that made me bust out laughing. I told him that he had it and to just go that I have no kick into the finish. He sprinted ahead of me so hard like his life depended on it. I couldn't help but laugh as I came through the finish. 2nd woman, 43rd overall in 54:27.
Unflattering finish line photo. Haha.
Due to the course change and the distance being .2 miles longer (6.1 miles on my watch, compared to 5.9 for previous years), the time is hard to compare to previous years. I do feel like I would have been faster if I were the shape I was in last year, but that just wasn't in the cards for me today. I was happy to find out that I had slightly closed the gap on Emily to under 2 minutes by the finish, and 3/4 of my race ended up being good for me, so I can't say I was disappointed at all. In fact, I was very happy with my race in the end. Full Results

I chatted with a few people at the finish and met the third place woman, Jamie Woolsey. I guess this really isn't her normal type of race, so it was pretty impressive that she did so well. I ran back down to the round house to see John and then quickly ran to the car to grab some clothes. There was a cold wind, and I was freezing. I brought Phoenix along for a short 1-mile cool down on a new-to-me trail that wound up a mountain. I had no idea where it went but just followed it until it seemed to top out and then ran back down. Phoenix was having a blast. No one else was on this trail so I let her off leash.

As soon as I got back down to the lot, I noticed a bunch of CMS guys with beer in the parking lot not far behind my car. When I learned they were drinking Foolproof Revery, I made my way over. Haha.

It was me, Todd Callahan, Matt Veiga, Erik Vandendries, and Bill Jackson (who provided the beers). Jeff Walker saw us over there and brought his own beer. Fun times drinking in the parking lot and catching up...until I almost missed the awards. I heard clapping and ran up the hill through the woods just making it into the pavilion a second before my name was called. Matt Veiga had just missed his, but he was right behind me. Jeff Walker also ran up, but fell down in the woods along the way. Haha.
I won $50 and another bottle of syrup. I still have nearly a full bottle left from my last year's winnings. I won't be buying syrup again anytime soon.
2015 award on the left. 2016 on the right.
 After the race, John and I joined Scott Mason at Prohibition Pig in Waterbury. There were a few other racers there we talked to while waiting for our table. This is a great little place. After a year, I was finally able to have Hill Farmstead again which is such good beer. It was around 4pm by the time the food came, so I was starving by this point.

Hill Farmstead Edward

Prohibition Pig's Vanilla Bean Porter

Dirty Burger. SO good.
I promised John a trip to the Ben & Jerry's Factory Store for ice cream after that. Last year, we had to wait in line for 45 minutes, but since it was cold and raining this year, we walked right up to the window. I was surprisingly not full and decided to get myself a Brrr-ito. I didn't eat another thing the rest of the day. Haha.

The ride home was a mix of sun and pouring rain. Even got a nice rainbow coming over Rt 2 near St Johnsbury, VT. I got to see a moose for the first time in 2 years in Crawford Notch; John missed it since he was asleep, and I only just saw it as we passed it by. Got home with plenty of time to get my things together for work the next day. I felt good and happy with the day. I had been so worried about the race when I woke not feeling good, but it all came together. Race 1 of the 2016 Mountain Running Series is in the books. I'm missing Wachussett as usual, but then I'll be back for the rest of the circuit (I hope).

Barely visible rainbow
John and Phoenix slept the whole way home.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Tough Week

The week after 7 Sisters should probably have been more recovery. Instead, I chose to beat myself up, almost on purpose in a way to get myself stronger for the mountain/trail season, but it kind of backfired. I really wanted to push myself through the tired legs and see how my body reacted. By Friday afternoon, I was lying on the couch unable to get up for 3 hours. haha. If you look at my weekly mileage alone, it doesn't look like much, but I put a lot of hard effort into most of my runs over the week and then raced Sleepy Hollow. Not the same effort as a long marathon training run or speed work, but a lot of elevation gain and time on my feet which was on top of tired and sore legs from 7 Sisters. All that said, though, I don't regret it. It felt good to push my body a little bit. May not have been the brightest idea this close to the Vermont City Marathon, but I don't care because I DO know what I'm doing, and it's called whatever the fuck I want. And it feels great. If I want to destroy myself  2 weeks before VCM, then I will. I'm going to run whatever I want. No one to answer to but myself. I run because I love it. I may not make the smartest training decisions, but I don't care because I'm doing what I want to do. It works for me... until I'm injured again. Haha.

Monday, 5/9/16- Woke up tired as hell, but my body felt ok... until later in the day when all of a sudden, my legs felt really sore and tired. I wasn't surprised by this at all. In fact, I even expected it when I woke up. I'm on call every Monday until my schedule changes to the 24 in late June, so my runs after work can't be as creative as I'd like. I planned a nice, easy run from the base through the aviation community nearby with maybe 5ish miles, but once I started, I changed my plan. The route was the same, but the speed changed. I decided to push it as hard as I could through the tired and sore legs just to see what I had in me when I'm not 100%. This is a good route to do this on, too, since it's mostly flat. Strava shows 0ft of elevation gain, but there are actually two gradual hills along the way. I've run this route much faster than today, but with my legs as tired as they were, I was surprised to see I could hold a really decent pace over the 6 miles. Pretty consistent, too, with a 6:39/mi average pace. It took quite a bit of effort to maintain, and I was seriously done at 6 miles, but I still felt pretty good. I even did a strength training workout when I got home. Never got called in to work, so I got some sleep.

Tuesday, 5/10/16- Planned to do the whole Middle Sister Trail and loop back via the Carter Ledge Trail, but I could not get myself out of bed in time. This was probably a good thing because what I did run was plenty. I still jumped on the Middle Sister Trail and ran up to the first open viewpoint. 7.4 miles round trip with a lot of climbing. It was a beautiful morning, and I brought Spot along since I knew I would be running slowly. My legs were definitely very tired, but it felt good to be out there.

It was really windy, as you can tell by the loose strands of hair blowing all over the place.
 I realized when I started back down that I was going to be late getting home so I had to text John's dad. They were running late, too, which was a relief, so I didn't need to worry about it. That made the run down more enjoyable. I felt good after. Tired, but good.

When John came home, I gave him some time to do his own thing while I put the bike rack and bikes on the car. He wanted to go mountain biking at Echo Lake so we went over there and rode most of the mountain bike trails. We cut the backside short because he was worn out. I have to admit that I was, too. My legs were absolute junk, and I'm in no kind of biking shape. Haha. It was such a beautiful day, though, so it felt great to be out there and back on the bikes. We rode 3.8 miles total. I promised John ice cream after that, so I finally finshed off a 1.5 year old gift certificate to McKaella's Sweet Shop. I came home and had a good beer before the usual ninja class.

John at Echo Lake

Me taking a selfie while John is taking a selfie. Apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Haha

The lake is beautiful this time of year.

John schooling me on the bike

Bissell Brothers Baby Genius for an evening beer
Wednesday, 5/11/16- No idea how I was able to get myself out of bed for a run at 4:30am, but I did. I was TIRED, so I took it really easy. Usual 5 miles, but forced myself to run slower and kept the elevation at 1%. Not a bad run at a 7:28/mi pace. Good when that feels easy. I needed this recovery run.

Things went downhill from there. Right after I got to work I started feeling really bad, as in sick. Lightheaded and nauseous. Once we were done with our truck check, I had to lie down. I couldn't even drink my coffee and the thought of food made me want to throw up. Fortunately, I was able to lie down for about 2 hours before we got our first call. Whatever was wrong with me had dissipated. I was finally able to eat a little bit. I stayed tired the whole day, though. I don't know what was wrong with me, but I was happy to feel ok again. We ended up with 4 911s, but only one late night. I got an ok amount of sleep, probably 6 or so hours total.

Thursday, 5/12/16- I woke up Thursday morning feeling the opposite of Wednesday. I felt great and energized all day. It was so beautiful out. I walked 2 miles around the base early on, and then we had a 911 in the afternoon. It was almost time to leave by the time we got back. I bolted as soon as I could to make the drive up to Great Glen Trails.

I was super excited about that night's runs. After a missing 2015, I decided to do the Salomon Spring Trail Running Series at Great Glen Trails again. A guy named Eli makes up a new course every year that's usually between 3.2-3.5 miles. The first race is always a mystery; you can look at the course map, but you never really know the course until you run it the first time; it's always a mix of double and single track, too. It's also a time trial, so you don't actually physically race anyone. That makes it harder in a way since you don't know what anyone else is doing, so tonight I went all out. There will be some that I won't be able to give 100%, so I'm going to give that 100% when I can, and tonight was the night. I must say that this was one of Eli's toughest courses yet. A LOT of uphills. The first mile was fast in 6:35, and I probably went out too fast, because the 2nd mile killed me with the long climb, and I just squeezed in under 8:00 with a 7:59. The 3rd mile was faster at 7:06, but the last .4 was back to climbing, and my pace was 7:23. Finished the 3.4 miles in 25:10, a 7:15/mi avg pace. Elevation gain was only 266ft, but it feels like a lot more due to the speed. I ended up first woman for the first week. Margaret Graciano and I have battled here before with her usually winning in the end. We'll see how this year goes since I won't be able to put it all out there some weeks.
Week 1 results
It was about 20 minutes to 7pm, and I wasn't done for the night. My other reason for jumping back in the Trail Running Series was so that I could double my runs with a run up the Mt Washington Auto Rd after. My plan was only to 4000ft, and I wasn't sure I was going to make it before the sunset at 8pm, but I did. The sun had just gone behind the peaks when I got up there. The run felt ok. It was definitely on the slow side. The first mile was too fast, as always, in 10:50 (which would be slow on race day). During the first mile, Throat-Clearing Guy from the Road Race every year popped into my head. I thought about how I tend to go out fast on miles 1 and 2 JUST to get away from him. Funny that he came to mind. I'm calling it a flashback due to my PTSD. Haha. The run was beautiful. All of the streams and brooks were gushing due to the snow melt, so the sound of rushing water was constant. The temps had to be in the 50s as soon as I hit halfway, and I only saw 2 people who were walking down during mile 2. The rest of the run was all to myself. Perfect solitude. Mile 2 is definitely the hardest mile in the first half, but I still ran it a lot faster than mile 4. The splits for those 3 was 13:07, 13:00, 13:37. I wanted to take the run easy, but that was a little bit slower than I wanted. Hoping for a faster time on the next one, although, I may not go past 3000ft, just to save the quads the pounding on the way down. Made it up to 4000ft, then turned around and ran right back down. As expected, it was a quad buster that did me in for a few days. Finished the entire run of 8.1 miles in 1:26:38 with 2450ft of elevation gain.

By the time I got down the mountain it was around 8:20pm and almost dark. I was starving. Plans to order thai food changed to ordering a pizza from the Shannon Door that I picked up and ate in its entirety on the way home. I was home after 9pm. Such a late night! I was beat, too!
Opted for an Amherst Brewing Toasted Coconut Porter. It was really good. 
Friday, May 13, 2016- I slept in way late. I needed the rest, but it didn't change the fact that I was still beat. I've always considered the Sawyer Pond Trail to be an easy run and flatish, but when you're tired and sore, it is neither easy nor flatish. So I probably should have chosen something short and truly flat, but hindsight is 20/20, and my love for the Sawyer Pond Trail will never cease! Haha. The run always starts and ends with a ford of the Swift River. The way out, it's fucking cold, and it takes a good 10 minutes to warm my feet up. On the way back, it's a nice way to cool the feet off and wash off all of the mud. I'll take the ford over a pedestrian bridge any day because it keeps traffic on this trail to a minimum. In case you haven't noticed, I don't like being around other people when I'm out on trails and mountains. Haha. I want those moments all to myself. Ok, and maybe with a dog or two or three. Today Spot joined me for my slog out to Sawyer Pond. It was REALLY slow. The gradual climb felt like a steep one and the short 4.3 miles felt like double that. And to top it all off, when I got to the shelter on the pond, they were everywhere! People!!! Soylent Green everywhere!! First time I've ever seen another person there. It wasn't really a big deal, though. They were of the friendly kind, and I just ran on past the shelter to a more private place to stop by the pond. Spot took a swim and then a break while I attempted my usual selfies. I may be 40, but when it comes to selfies, I'm just like a 16 year old! I am SO young!

Sawyer Pond. I have never been here when it's sunny. 


Snake I saw on the way out and the way back AND almost stepped on both times.
Spot swimming across the Swift River
Although the way back is actually an easier run, I was so done that it took me longer. Total run was 8.7 miles 1177ft of elevation gain. This put me at over 5000ft for the week, with 2 of those days at 0 elevation, and I still had Sleepy Hollow to go. Definitely nowhere close to my usual summer elevation, but I am not in shape for this yet. Being so tired made it hard to enjoy this run, but it was still nice to get out there again this season. I love that spot.

I didn't have much time with my late start, but I changed into dry clothes and shoes and headed to Frontside Grind via Bear Notch Rd for my usual latte. I broke down and grabbed a Peace of Mind Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffin. I'm neither a vegan, nor gluten-free, but these muffins are to die for!! My friend, Nancy Plante, started up this bakery and has been making a killing at it. Look for her baked goods around town if you're ever up here in the Valley or even around NH and other places in New England. She also makes the gluten-free crust for all of the Flatbread locations.

I went home from there, and John was home shortly thereafter. I showered, made popcorn and then proceeded to lie on the couch for the next three hours. John had, fortunately, already taken a walk with his dad in the morning, so I didn't feel bad about vegging out. I could not get up. Dead to the world. It was raining out, so that made it easier to be lazy. Finally, a second wind! I got up and decided to do some strength training. I had to do something else. Nothing strenuous, just mostly upper body work. Gave me a little boost of energy to make dinner and get a few things done.

Saturday, 5/15/16- Planned rest day. I knew early in the week that I would not be running Saturday. In hindsight, I should have taken Friday off instead, but it's so hard to do that since Friday is the only day (right now!) that I have free during the week. I still could have just taken an easy hike instead of run, though, but whatever, I needed to rest my legs. It was nice not having to wake up Saturday morning and think about my run. I was able to focus more on what John and I were going to do for the day. It was absolutely gorgeous out so a walk was in the plan, but since I wanted to bring the dogs, it had to be somewhere off the beaten path without many people. Took me forever to come up with a place, but finally, I decided on the dirt road/x-c ski trail at King Pine/Purity Spring in Madison. It ended up being a perfect choice if you don't count the black fly hell we endured when we stopped at the beach on the lake. I am a huge bug wimp and was running all over the place, even hiding in the beach dressing room. Meanwhile, John was having a blast jumping off the dock and swimming in the lake. The kid LOVES to swim. I couldn't take the black flies anymore so we walked back to the car. Ran into one other person...whom I just happened to know, so that was good. I don't like to scare people with my dog gang. 2.1 miles total.

Pre-black fly swarm attack

I agree. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

John wasn't done swimming for the day. He wanted to go to his favorite place to swim. Conway Lake. We dropped the dogs off at home and then headed over to the beach at Conway Lake. Our usual summer hangout. I was surprised to see no one else there except a few boaters using the boat ramp, but after awhile, more and more people started to arrive. It felt like a hot summer day at the Conway Lake Beach...except the water was still freezing. Didn't stop my kid, though. He swam for over 2 hours!! He also marked his first 2016 illegal bridge jump! This makes the 6th year of illegal bridge jumping, and he managed to horrify a couple of people who were there with their kids. First off, it's not dangerous. It's not that high. And, second, he had already done a lake bottom check to make sure no new rocks or other debris had deposited itself in the jumping area since last summer. I've even jumped off that bridge. I did get a nasty gram 2 years ago from the Conway Rec director about it after he saw a picture I had taken of John, but I ignored it and carried on. The only time he can't get away with it is when the life guards are on duty on the weekdays in the summer. While he swam and jumped off the bridge and rocks, I was completely lazy and worked on my tan. I do not do cold water. Haha.

First jump of 2016

Playing in the water
Lazy at its finest
 A quick stop at the store on our way home and then it was time to prep my pre-race meal and get things done. I decided against having a beer...something I'm going to give up on. I seem to do better racing when I have had a beer the night before. Sign of alcohol dependence? Possibly, but I doubt it. Just haven't seen any benefit in NOT drinking the night before. My drink of choice this night was my usual green juice from my juicer.

After all of the cooking I did, I had a million dishes to do. Then I packed up my stuff for Sleepy Hollow the next day and went to bed.

Favorite song this week. Amerika by Young the Giant