Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Week 5/1-5/7/16

I feel like I'm getting to the point where the mid-week training is done, and now, I'm just racing to train. I got to this point last year after VCM and did pretty well with it until I was injured at the end of September. My favorite method of training is racing, so it seems to work for me as long as I can let myself recover enough during the week. I think I overdid it a little bit last year by doing a lot of double race weekends followed by high mileage weeks. That coupled with the lack of sleep from work and who knows what other factors probably led to my injury. So even though I will still be racing nearly every weekend, I'm trying to avoid weekend doubles as much as possible and stay off of the road after VCM until it's time for the NE Grand Prix races to start up again in August. I made the decision to skip the Seacoast Series this year because of this. Trying to fit in that Series along with my other races was tough on me. I love the fast road racing, but I find it really wears me down more quickly than the trail/mountain racing. That doesn't mean I won't jump in one or two over the year, but I'm not holding myself to the full Series. I have so many trail and mountain races I want to do, and I DO plan to complete the entire New England Grand Prix Series which will have me on the road enough later in the year. Right now, I really should be focusing on VCM, but I'm having too much fun trail racing this month. I will be jumping on the track May 21 to torture myself with the 10,000m, and even though I know I'll hate it, I'll appreciate the experience. Then it's off to VCM to see if I can redeem my time a little bit from Boston. We shall see. In the meantime, this week was all about getting ready for Sunday's 7 Sisters Trail Race.

Sunday, 5/1/16- Big River really beat me up, so I decided to take the day off from running. It was raining most of the day anyway. I never even got in my car to go anywhere. John and I just took a walk up Heavenly Hill right as the rain was starting.
Carried moss up to the top to put on the rock

All I have in my life, my cute kid. Love him.

Writing in the register on top of Heavenly Hill. The origin of that register is a story in and of itself. 

Sunday beer. Harpoon isn't typically a top choice, but this one was good.
Monday, 5/2/16- Slow day at work. I was on call for the night shift so it was either run near the base or go home and run on my treadmill. 43 degrees and pouring rain outside made that an easy choice. Haha. I went home and ran 6 miles on the treadmill. Usual progression run, 1-3% for elevation changing from one to the other every half mile. Ran it at a decent pace. 7:07/mi. Felt good, Trying to figure out the best way for my new, cheap bluetooth headphones to stop bouncing on my neck as I run. They aren't the type meant for running, but they were only $20. So far, a Buff around my neck seems to be working the best.

When I was done running, I did a half hour of strength training. Quiet the rest of the evening... until 3am when I got called into work. I had the only other car on the road riding my bumper the whole way (and I was already speeding), and I almost hit a fox, but I was able to go right back to sleep on the couch when I got there. I decided just to stay and sleep until 6:30am instead of going home when we were clear to leave. I was way too cozy in my sleeping bag.

Tuesday, 5/3/16- Once I was home, I had coffee, then headed out on one of my usual road runs from home. I did the loop up Bald Hill Rd, to the Kanc and home. Glutes and hamstrings were sore from Big River and my workout the night before, but I felt good. Even managed to beat one of my old CRs on Chase Hill. 10.3 miles at 7:33/mi pace. 788ft of elevation gain.

John came home shortly thereafter, and we headed off for a short trip to Portland. I had 4 orders at the Bier Cellar I had to pick up since they allow you to place holds on certain beers they get in. I hadn't been over there in awhile, so I had a lot. Haha. Took John over to Get Air. The place wasn't crowded at all, so John jumped until he wore himself out. I had a quick appointment after that, and then we had to head home to make John's ninja class. John showed me his planks afterward by holding one for a minute on top of the car. Haha.
Plank on top of the car. :)

Prairie Barrel Aged Bomb! Excellent beer. 

Wednesday, 5/4/16- First shift at the base in Redstone. Poured rain all day. I got in a treadmill run beforehand. A little slower than usual. Wasn't feeling so great. Same old progression run for 5 miles at 7:12/mi pace. I was VERY tired all day, so I'm not sure the run was worth it. I was in charge of doing inventory for our order supply. Our new supply room is huge so everything is organized which made it easier to do the inventory. I messed around a bit with some kids plastic EMT hats I found.

I'm a dork.
I checked FB while I was doing inventory and got a huge shock. "Baltimore Jack", the most legendary of Appalachian Trail thru-hikers, had died overnight. I was so sad to hear it. He makes the 3rd AT friend who has been lost in the last 6 months. He was in his 50s, but recent photos showed that his health was in decline. He was a guy who always had a bottle of Jim Beam on him and a cigarette in his mouth. I first met Jack around a fire at Trail Days in Damascus, VA in 1998. We crossed paths occasionally that year, but it wasn't until my second AT thru-hike in 2003 that I really got to know him. He had an edge, but the better I got to know him, the more I saw his kinder, more generous side. He even told us his real name, which is something he rarely ever told anyone. He opened up his winter crash pad in Hanover, NH to us for a place to sleep and shower before continuing north. Jack spent many years wintering in Hanover and then thru-hiking on the AT. I think he completed close to 8 thru-hikes. Even when he could no longer hike well, he still remained a fixture on the trail, right up until the day he died. We were lucky enough to summit Katahdin with him the day we finished our 2nd thru-hike, October 9, 2003. We saw him a few more times in 2011 when he was working at Walasi-Yi Outfitters at Neels Gap in Georgia and at the Franklin, NC hiker party. His presence along the AT will be missed, but he left behind a legacy that will live on through those who knew him.
Baltimore Jack and me on Katahdin in 2003
A thru-hiker friend posted a group photo of us from 2003. When I looked at it, I was shocked to find all three of the hikers who died in the last 6 months were in it, as well as another hiker friend who committed suicide years ago. Hard to look at the photo and realize 4 of those people are now gone. Our dog, Coy, is also in the picture. She was also a bit of a legend herself, having thru-hiked the PCT in 2002 and then completing the AT with us in 2003. She passed away in 2011.

Gone now: Mala (white beard), Otto, in the front row,
 (with his German Shepherd, Raven), Baltimore Jack (sitting on the truck bed in the sunglasses) and Foz (to my left; I'm the one wearing a pack). 
The rest of my shift was uneventful. Two back-to-back calls in the evening, then I was able to catch up on much-needed sleep all night.

Thursday, 5/5/16- I woke up very rested, showered and then left for the Tamworth base for the rest of my 34 hour shift. I stopped at Starbucks to pick up my coffee and two co-workers' drinks to bring down. Another quiet day since it's the quiet season. It was still a gray day out, but it had at least stopped raining, and I was really looking forward to my run after work. Just as I was walking out the door, my boss showed up, and, finally, after my huge string of bad luck, I got some good news! He's giving me the Monday 24 hour shift!. This is what I had been trying to get back since I came back full time. That was my old schedule before I left. This is awesome because it means the end of my 34 hour shift. Just Mondays and Wednesdays, both 24s. That leaves Thursdays open to play or pick up a shift here and there in Bartlett or some other service when I so choose. I am so excited because I will actually have a completely free day AND night to myself! That just put me in an even better mood than I was in as I drove over to my running spot.

I chose to run up Bayle Mt via Pine Hill Rd in West Ossipee. I had done this run once before last June and enjoyed it. The only problem with it is that it's almost ALL uphill one way and ALL downhill on the way back (obviously, since it's an out-and-back) which makes it a total quad buster. I was a little nervous about doing this so soon after Big River and just before 7 Sisters but just said, "Fuck it," and headed that way. The uphill wasn't as steep as I remembered, so I was able to maintain a fairly decent pace for the 4-ish miles up the dirt road to where I met the trail portion of the run, mostly in the 7s with the first mile in the 8s (steep and just warming up). Once I hit the snowmobile trail and, then subsequently, the single track steep-ass, boulder-hopping climb up to the top of the mountain, my time slowed tremendously. Once at the top, I never stopped my watch and walked all over the summit for about 10 minutes, so my pace is quite a bit off for miles 5 and 6. The cloud that was covering the mountain when I started was gone once I reached the summit, but it was really windy and chilly.
Elevation profile to give an idea of how steep the climb up to the summit is.

On Bayle Mt.

When I was done with my selfies (haha), I went back the way I came. The run down was also slow from the summit to the road, but once I was on the road, I was able to fly down. Miles 9, 10 and 11 were in the 6s and mile 12 was just a hair about 7. I slowed down on the last mile because the downhill was steep and my legs were done with that pounding. All in all, a great run. 12 miles total. Avg pace isn't really telling of most of the run. I was very happy with my pace on the roads since I could move quickly on most of it. 1570ft of elevation gain total. Really a gem of a run with its quiet and scenic road.

Excellent beer to have post 34 hour shift and post run.
Friday, May 6, 2016- Slept in a bit then finally dragged myself out for a run. This run needed to be easy, so I ran from Hemlock Ln on the Pillar-to-Pond Trail over to the Middle Mt Trail then back to my car via Sidehill and Rattlesnake Trails. Super easy pace. The weather was gorgeous, too, so I just enjoyed it. I brought Phoenix (a rarity now) and Spot along and stopped with them at every watering hole. I even took a sit down break at Redstone Quarry. Easy 5.3 miles. Just getting something in that wasn't too hard on the legs and off the road.

Sitting by the quarry

Spot and Phoenix swimming in the quarry
 I went by Frontside Grind for a latte after the run and then stopped in at the store. John hates going to the store (as do I!), so I tried to get it in before he came home.

Latte from Frontside Grind
John and his dad had already hiked up Peaked Mt that morning (I had just missed them on the trail), so John was all set exercise-wise. I did some sunbathing on the deck with the dogs and then did a strength training workout. I was officially beat after that. Good day.

Saturday, May 7, 2016- Slept in again. I contemplated taking a zero day with 7 Sisters Trail Race being the next day, but ended up running in the neighborhood. 4x up and back from my house for 4.2 miles at 7:34/mi pace. Very easy, except for the hill parts. Haha. Ended up with 326ft of elevation gain in just those 4 miles. I wanted my legs to be fresh for the race the next day, but I needed to do something before getting in the car that afternoon for the long drive out to Western Mass. I also needed to exercise the dogs, whom I was leaving behind, and John before we left, so we all walked up Heavenly Hill. Once we were back, I showered, loaded up the car and we left for Amherst.

It's a long drive out there, but it really isn't that bad. I had to stop at Runner's Alley in Concord to buy the required water bottle for the race; I had a $40 gift certificate to there, so that's why I waited until we were on our way down. I have quite a few handhelds, but I didn't like any of them. I ended up going with an Amphipod and a new pair of socks. Can't say I've ever been truly impressed by Runner's Alley. Every time I go in there with a gift certificate, I can't find anything I want, and they could greatly improve on their sock selection. I avoided eye contact with store people until check-out time. I'm not someone to whom they want to try to sell anything or offer advice. I think I gave off that vibe pretty well. Haha.
Ended up being the perfect choice
 Earlier in the week, Amy Rusiecki had emailed me out of the blue asking if I wanted to crash at her house the night before the race. This was such perfect timing because I was in a dilemma with that and had decided John and I would just sleep in my car in the Walmart parking lot. Didn't sound too comfortable, but it was doable. So I was psyched when Amy offered a place to stay and accepted right away. I didn't even know Amy, so that's what was even cooler. We met briefly last year at Mt Washington, but that's it, so it was cool for her to open up her home to a stranger and her kid. Sarah Keyes was crashing there, too, so John and I ended up meeting Amy, Sarah and Howie Hanna at Amherst Brewing (also known as the Hangar Pub and Grill) for dinner. It was UMass Amherst's graduation weekend, so the place was packed, but we got a table pretty much right away. I was starving at this point and must have horrified them by ordering the 22 oz stout and meatloaf with mashed potatoes and then downing every bit of it. I had hardly eaten all day, and I wasn't even full when we walked out of there. Dinner was nice getting to know Amy, Sarah and Howie. They're all 3 super nice people...not to mention awesome runners!! I made sure to grab a free glass for graduates and a few cans of their other beers to take home.
All it said was "Free" so I assumed that meant me.
 We drove to Amy's house from there and took the downstairs couches for our beds. I was feeling a little nervous about the next day's race. I didn't know if my legs were really fully recovered from Boston (since I didn't let them haha). I also wondered if I had overdone it during the week. I knew this race was going to be hard, but based on the description, I had a feeling I would like it and feel right at home.

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