Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Post VCM Recovery Week

I felt great the first few days following Vermont. My calves were only slightly sore, and the fatigue was minimal. I knew I still needed to be vigilant about recovering since I had Pack Monadnock coming up on week post-VCM. And in my opinion, it's probably one of the hardest road races out there. It's a 10-mile road race with over 2000ft of elevation gain and hurts when you haven't just run a marathon. I was dreading it, but John's friend's mom offered to keep John while I raced, so I knew I couldn't skip it. Plus, it's part of the USATF-NE Mountain Series, and I need to do all of the rest of the Series. I skipped Wachusett and could technically skip one more, but then I would have to count my score at Loon. With it being the National Championship race, my score will be well down into the 80s, possibly the 70s, since it's based off of a percentage of the first woman's time. I need to be able to drop my Loon score in the final standings, so that means I have to do all the remaining Series races, and that included Pack. I dreaded it all week. Last year, I ran it 2 weeks post-VCM and still remember feeling a little fatigued still. I ran a great time, but I was also faster then, too. Haha. So, anyway, I decided to stay off pavement for the week and try to recover as best I could in preparation.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016- Since I kept John on Monday, his dad and I swapped days, so that he took him on Tuesday. That meant I could enjoy a full day to finish off my 5-day weekend. I was pretty excited since it meant I could sleep in, go to my massage appointment and then take my time getting out for a run and have time to kayak. John hung out with me during the morning until I had to leave for my appointment.

I was super excited about the massage since I really needed one. It was supposed to a deep tissue/hot stone massage. Although it felt nice, I was a little disappointed when I left there. It definitely wasn't deep tissue by any means. More just a like a basic Swedish massage which is nice and all, but not when you really want to work the muscles. By the time I left, I felt like I hadn't even had a massage at all. My neck usually feels so relaxed, but it was still tight. I probably won't be going back to this massage therapist again. Oh well.

From there, I drove down to the Piper Trailhead to run a loop up and down Mt Chocorua. Although it may seem baffling that one could call this a recovery run, it really is a recovery run for me as long as I'm running slowly. I'm so used to running mountains that it doesn't take a lot out of me, and it's very low impact. The temperature was still in the 80s, but after running VCM two days before that, it really didn't bother me. I felt some fatigue in the legs later on during the climb, as expected, but the upper portion of the Piper Trail is tough on a good day. As soon as I got out of the trees, the wind up there was crazy. Made it nice, though,since there were no black flies. I was able to stay on the summit for awhile. Beautiful day. I ran back via the Liberty/Hammond/Weetamoo Trails to make a loop of 8.1 miles.
I had to hold my hat on because it was so windy. 

After the run, I went home to take a shower and eat something. I had plans to go "paddleboarding" with my surfboard find, but I realized I had no desire to stand up. I was all done after the Chocorua run, so I loaded the kayak onto my car and went for an evening paddle on Lake Chocorua to make it a Chocurua kind of day! It was gorgeous. Perfect temps. Amazing day.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016- After an awesome 5-day weekend, it was back to work for my 34-hour shift (which is soon to be over!! Yay!!). Since it was the 1st of the month, that meant the monthly truck check on A3. Monthlies are never fun, but in Tamworth, and in the past in North Conway, we had a crew of 4-6 people to do them. It involves a thorough inventory and the cleaning of every shelf, compartment, piece of equipment, floor to ceiling. It had actually been a really long time since the 1st fell on a day I was on in North Conway, so I hadn't done a monthly on A3 in forever. The truck was FILTHY. It was obvious that no one had done a proper monthly on it in who knows how long, and there were only 2 of us to do it. 2 hours later, we finished, and I was just as filthy as the truck. My clothes were so dirty, and I was pouring in sweat. I ended up having to change into my clean uniform that I brought for Thursday. I wasn't happy, but we got it done. I'm sure it will be just as bad next time, though. Ugh. 

The rest of the day got better. John had agreed to do the Conway Rec Track Program because his best friend was doing it, so I took the ambulance over to Kennett High School to watch. John's dad was there with his cousin, John, whom I hadn't seen in forever; it was nice to catch up since I don't see that part of the family much anymore. My John had a fun time at track. They ran the 50 and the 100 and then got to try one of those sand jumping events (don't ask me the names of those) and throwing a ball. John tried really hard in the runs. I was surprised since he doesn't like running. Haha. He came in last every time, but it was fun to watch, and he ended up having a great time.
John is in the blue.
Thursday, June 2, 2016- I got a decent amount of sleep overnight, thank goodness. I needed as much sleep as I could get. I had to stop by my house on the way to Tamworth to grab my back up uniform for the day, then I went on to Tamworth. It was mostly a quiet day until my partner, Jeff, and I headed down to Ossipee Corner for a 911. I had the misfortune of running over wet yellow painted lines on Rt 16 while going around traffic. It wouldn't have been so bad if I hadn't been driving our brand new ambulance!!

This picture doesn't even show half of it. My boss wasn't happy, but it really was unavoidable. Who paints yellow lines in the middle of the day!! Oh yeah, the State of NH. It took two of my coworkers and me along with the most potent cleaner, Totally Awesome from the Dollar Tree, to get most of the paint off. My boss was happy after that. Haha. I've never done any damage to any truck in the 5 years I've worked here EXCEPT to our brand new one... and this is the 2nd time!! Argh!! Haha. I can at least say I've never hit anything with an ambulance before. :)

After work, I headed up to Great Glen Trails for Week #4 of the Spring Trail Running Series. I had taken another zero day on Wednesday which I don't think helped much. By Thursday, I was feeling tired and heavy. You'd think I would be more forgiving of myself 4 days post-marathon, but...nope. Haha. I still went all out. But, just as I passed the mile 1 point and turned uphill, I felt a weird "thing" in my lower left calf suddenly. It wasn't a pop exactly, but it was so sudden that it worried me, and it hurt. I ran the rest of the course using as little of my lower calf as I could and still managed to run my fastest time on the 3.4 mile course in 23:49. I was surprised to learn that I had barely beaten Margaret. Only by 11 seconds!! She was improving drastically every week while my effort was getting more and more difficult with all of the racing. I was lucky to snag this one, as it will probably be my last weekly win for the Series. I just can't hang anymore with what I'm doing outside of that. I was REALLY tired and REALLY worried about my calf, so I bagged the Auto Rd run. No need. I felt the calf the rest of the night, but I noticed it really just felt sore rather than injured. I decided to play it by ear if I would run the next day. I was already planning Saturday off, but two days wouldn't hurt leading up to Pack.
Week 4

Friday, June 3, 2016- Up at 5am so I could meet Paul Kirsch over at Tin Mountain at 6am. It was almost that time again. The Dirty Girl Trail Race! This would be the third year of my race at Tin Mountain. I had 154 women pre registered so I was happy about that. Paul and I met up to mark the course early so that he could go into work at some point. I brought Spot along... then proceeded to forget about her and left her in the car. It wasn't until about 25 minutes later when a guy passed us with his dog that I remembered I brought Spot. Bad dog owner! Oops. So I ran back and got Spot. She was perfectly fine and napping when I got there, but she was also happy to get out and join me. I just have to say that this race could not have happened without Paul's help. I really don't have much help outside of race day except for Paul and Jotham, my Tin Mountain contact. Paul goes above and beyond to help me every year and even did the timing in addition to everything else! We spent awhile out there just walking the course and talking. I raked the entire trail on the opposite side of Bald Hill. That trail is rarely used and was almost completely covered with leaves. It's only about 3/4 of a mile, but it took a long time to clear it. During this time, I got a call from John saying that he and his dad had lost Chill overnight. Haha. I've learned to just laugh at this by now since I don't think it will ever stop happening. Chill can be kind of a jerk and just take off on you out of the yard in a split second. Haha. I found out later that Chill had been found at 3am the night before and was taken to dog jail. I have to question our Humane Society, though, since Chill had a tag with his name, address and BOTH of our phone numbers right on his collar. He's also microchipped. They didn't see his tag or check his microchip and put his mug shot up on Facebook. Pretty comical to see him in the cage. Hahaha.

Spot actually ended up worn out

Chill's mugshot on Facebook. I only saw this two days after the fact when a friend sent it to me.
Paul and I finished up the course marking, then I had to hit a few stores for last minute race stuff. I dropped this stuff at home, changed into running clothes and decided to run my race course if the calf didn't bother me. I had felt it walking the course in the morning, but it only felt slightly sore. I took the run pretty easy, and it was only around 3.4 miles. 35:47, 425ft of elevation gain. Lots of small ups and downs. I get excited every year for my racers to come out and run the course. If I could make longer, I would, but as it is, it's challenging enough.

John came home as soon as I was home from the run. Since the next day was going to be busy with my race stuff for half the day, I decided to let him do what he wanted for the evening... play video games. Haha. I was busy anyway getting race stuff in order. I made the overall and age group awards then made sure I had bibs assigned and all the other odds and ends taken care of. Then I had to load up the car with most of it. Definitely took longer than planned, but I enjoyed it.

Top 3 overall got sunflowers. Age group awards got white carnations. Top 3 overall also got extra awards as well. 
I ordered stickers with the 2016 logo to put on the award bottles and to give away at bib pickup. The stickers were all gone before the race ever started. haha.
I was super excited about the shirts. A friend recommended Beeze Tees out of Keene, NH. I had to change vendors after last year's screw up by the company I had been using. (I wrote about their screw up HERE.) It was nice working with a company that took my idea and turned it into exactly what I wanted on the first try! I got better shirts and better service. Way worth the extra money! They also made the stickers.

Saturday, June 4, 2016- Race Day!! Which also meant another early morning! I had to pick up the bagels at Bagels Plus (LOVE their bagels) at 6:30am and then get to Tin Mountain by 7am. John went from his bed to the car seat and fell right back asleep. Paul had already been at Tin Mountain for over an hour by the time I got there. He was marking the finish area and the course near the main building. He went to Starbucks to get the coffee that was ready at 7am. In the meantime, I unloaded the car, set up registration with the help of two volunteers and then marked the start line. Registration started at 7:30am and everything went off without a hitch. I had maybe 4 volunteers maybe a week prior to the race, but people came through for me on race day. I had more than enough!! It was great. So many of them had helped out the previous two years, so it made it easy to just tell them where to go, and they knew the drill.
Tin Mountain on race morning

Paul took this great shot

Start line all set up on Bald Hill Rd
9am rolled around, and it looked like everything was set. I had around 130 racers total who toed the line. It was awesome. The hard work was done, and it was time to send them on their way.

They're off!

As soon as they entered the woods, I went into building to set up all of the pre-race food. John helped out with it and took some pictures of me. He said he was having a lot fun at this race since I wasn't actually racing it. Haha. Things were going so well. And, then....Paul comes running in. There was a course mix-up on the Laurel Loop. My heart sank. HOW???? At this point I didn't know the damage. And I didn't know why. Knowing where the mix up was, it was too late to fix the problem. My friend, Michelle, was there taking photos and called me to let me know the deal. Everyone had gone the wrong way on the loop!! She knew the course and tried to help get them back on track, but it was too late. One of my volunteers had misunderstood the course and sent everyone backwards on the loop. Most of the racers would tell me later that they knew they had gone the wrong way because the flags that should always be on the right were now on the left, but when I course official tells you to go a certain way, you do. The leaders ended up going about a 1/2 mile before realizing the error. They turned around and went back to where they were steered wrong and then completed a full loop the correct direction. The people behind them turned around, as well, when they saw them coming back. So the leaders ended up doing the most extra mileage. Two women ended up back at the finish and dropped, which I still don't understand, since the course snafu had nothing to do with ending up back at the finish. Fortunately, everyone else eventually ended up on the right track after their second loop and kept most of their same places.

However, I didn't know any of this standing at the finish line. All I knew was that everyone had gone the wrong way. I was in panic mode. When my timer his 30 minutes and I didn't see Kristina Folcik come by the finish before the last stretch, I knew it was fucked up. I had run the entire course not at race-pace in under 36 minutes. Kristina finally came by around minute 34. She yelled out that she had run two loops of the Laurel Loop section. I wanted to die. Kristina won the race and tried to tell me what had happened. It was pretty confusing at the time and took us awhile to figure out what had happened. I was horrified. Even though it was my volunteer who had made the error, it was still my responsibility as race director to make sure my volunteers understood the course with certainty. I had thought this was done, but, apparently, it was not, and for that, I failed. It sucked. I honestly didn't know what to do in that moment. A few people finished who were obviously upset. I ended up having an injured runner at the same time. She had a decent scrape to the hand. Nothing bad, but I had to walk her into the building and lead  her to the bathroom. To top it all off, just as I'm walking in, I look in the window and see 3 racers who had finished just helping themselves to extra shirts! WTF! I got the injured person to the bathroom and ran in to stop them from taking shirts. I had plenty left over to give away to racers who registered after the shirt deadline, but that didn't mean they could just come take them. So here I am trying to figure out what to do about my course fuck up and as nice as I could tell these 3 that it wasn't ok to just come take shirts, that I would be happy to give them one if they asked. They then have the gall to complain about the start and suggest I make a course change. Seriously?? I kept my cool and explained to them how trail racing works and that you can end up in a bottleneck leading into the single track and that my course was designed the way it was for a reason, blah, blah, blah.

At this point, I decided I needed a moment to calm down and figure out how to handle the situation, so I stayed inside and started setting up the awards. I was expecting to have people come in and start complaining, but the opposite happened! People came in and started telling how much they loved the race despite what happened. They offered support, hugs and kind words. I was in shock! It was so unexpected!! Right to the very end of the awards, I received nothing but kind words and thank you's. Even following the race, I received comments on the Facebook page saying how much they loved the race and would be back next year. It lifted my spirits a bit, but I have to admit, I was pretty depressed about it the rest of the day. I fucked up, and I couldn't take it back. Just needed time to process it all. After the cleanup which took an hour or so, John and I went home. I needed to unload my car, upload the results to coolrunning and most importantly of all...have a drink.

After I was done, I took John to the lake to swim. He loves it and swam for about 2 hours. I rested the rest of the night. Another early morning on Sunday. Pack Monadnock leered figuratively and literally on the horizon. My body was still tired, and now I was mentally burdened by my race. I needed to have a good race on Sunday.

Thanks to Jamie Gemmiti for putting some race photos in the Conway Daily Sun

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