Sunday, July 31, 2016

Loon Mountain Race 2016

I can't think of a race that I've had more ups and downs year after year than Loon. The 2016 version would be my 6th Loon! All consecutive. It's hard to remember what it felt like in my naivete in 2011 when I decided last minute to drive over to Lincoln to run this race for the first time. I remember thinking it was awesome but also the hardest race I've ever run. Although, it's definitely not the hardest race I've ever run anymore, it still manages to kick me in the ass year after year. My 2015 race was awesome. I felt so good! I ran well! And just like everything that was 2015, it's gone by the wayside. I knew there would be no awesome today. There could only be just ok. I really wasn't feeling the race anyway since it's a National Championship year. I'll be honest that I don't really like it much when it's a championship year. There's just too much hype, and it's too crowded. Plus, we always have to run it separate from the men. And this year, we would be running it AFTER the men. One of the things I love about the Mountain Series is the small NE mountain crowd, and with the championship, it takes away from that for me. One more thing that I absolutely can't stand about the championship year... they take away the last part of the regular course. The steep-ass downhill that I can totally fly down passing anyone who runs with any hesitation. I love this section after Upper Walking Boss, so I was disappointed not to be doing it this year. These are just my personal feelings, and it doesn't mean that the National Champion years are bad; they just take away a little of the experience for me. Personal preference. That's all. Paul Kirsch and Chris Dunn put SO much into this race this year, and it was definitely a stellar event, no doubt, so I don't mean to put down any of their race. I appreciate their hard work, effort and time.

John and I got there a little after 7:15am. The men were starting at 8, so I wanted to watch that. Plus, I had taken up Steve Brightman's offer for John to hang out with his family during the race. I ended up meeting Jennifer, his wife, his kids and their friends on the way out of One Love the night before, so I was glad I knew who I was looking for in the crowd near the start. I found them standing right in front me after looking all around for 5 minutes. Haha. I found my teammates Jenn Brooks and Regina Loiacano (who wasn't even supposed to be there! Big surprise! And she ended up as the Master National Champion!) We snapped a quick photo since we didn't know if we'd get one after the race.
Central Mass Striders women. Regina, Jenn and me.
We watched the men's start, then John and I walked with Jennifer and her friends to my car to get John's backpack. Then I left John with them to head up the gondola. Now that I was on my own, it was time for a warm up. I didn't plan a long one, only about a mile. The weather was on the cooler side for once, but it still felt warm during the warm up. I was glad I had decided on my CMS sports bra for the race, even if it is white and, um, shows more than I'd like. :) The warm up wasn't bad. The calves weren't bothering me at all, but there was some definite heaviness to the legs that made me nervous. Oh well. Really nothing I could do about it at this point. I also felt empty, like I needed food, so I quickly stopped at the car for a chia pod, one of the only things I can eat, besides a gel, that close to race time.

Start time was almost there. I found Regina and Jenn to line up with them. We noticed the girls dressed in matching track outfits. I had read they were coming out for the race, so that wasn't a surprise. It was just odd seeing people dressed like that at a mountain race, since literally no one dresses like that. Haha. After the races they all ran, we might be seeing more track outfits! They all did really well.

It was finally time, so Chris Dunn sent us on our way. I've really learned this course and made it a point to stop going out too fast. With the new Nordic trail section, I know to hold back the first mile and then really push it through the nordic trail. I did just as planned for the first mile. I ignored everyone else's pace and just ran mine. My legs didn't feel that bad, but I was still nervous about later on in the race. As soon as I hit the trail section, I picked it up. I was able to pass a few women and stay ahead of some others. This isn't quite what I'd call "technical" trail running, but I could tell some of these women never run stuff even like this, so it kept in the game for sure. I was surprised that it felt much harder than last year, though, so I was a little discouraged to feel that on the climbing sections, but I pushed hard. I passed a good number of people, all of whom I would end up either in front of or behind at the base of Upper Walking Boss. There was a lot of back and forth from the trail on. I excelled on the downs, while the rest of them kicked my ass on the ups. I think I was with Sarah Keyes, Ginger Reiner and two women from the PA Rosemont team almost the entire race. As with every year, I ran, then I power hiked. Pretty much the exact same places as last year. I was surprised to find my legs holding up on the ups and started to feel optimistic about UWB. Even though some of them got a good lead on me on the long climb up to the top of the gondola, I was able to catch them or pass them on the last downhill before UWB. I knew I was running slower than last year, but I was pretty happy with me effort and pace...until I hit UWB.
Running well at this point. Photo by Dave Dunham
I smoked that downhill and was literally just seconds behind Ginger and another woman and ahead of Sarah and another woman at the base of UWB. And this is where I was done. My legs were absolutely done. One slow speed was it. I didn't even feel that tired. I was able to smile and laugh the whole time. I didn't feel bad. My legs just wouldn't move any faster. I got passed by Sarah and the other girl and then 2 more women. Ginger and the other woman would disappear above me on the climb. It was awful, but I'll be honest. I really didn't give a shit. They would all finish nearly a minute before me. In 2012, this would have sent me into tears, but, now, it is what it is. My finish time was pretty much what I expected in 1:10:36. Finished my typical place in a Championship year, too. 27th USATF female. Two years ago, I was 31st, so I'll take that as an improvement. Haha. It does hurt knowing I would have caught some of those women on the downhill after UWB if it was the regular course, but like I said, it is what it is. I couldn't be disappointed.

Sarah Keyes and I ran over to the gondola together, and then I went in search of John. He ended up running right by me to grab something from the concession stand. I followed him in expecting to ride down the gondola with me, but he rushed out saying he wanted to ride down with the Brightman's. Hahaha. He bolted to the line and jumped right in the with them. I was standing there kind of baffled and laughing and realized I needed to make sure it was ok with them. They were fine with it, so I was like, um, ok. My kid likes them better! It was really funny. So I realized that I could run down, which I prefer to do anyway. Todd Brown and Sarah Canney were headed down at the same time, so I joined them. They're both great people, so I really enjoyed their company. Todd ended up being my sherpa since I had my ridiculously heavy drop bag with me and was struggling with it. I wasn't intending to run down, or I would have picked a better backpack. Haha.
Running down Loon
When we were just about at the bottom, I got a message from Steve Brightman that John was at the river with them, so as soon as I got down to the bottom, I changed clothes, grabbed a bagel from the lodge, then headed down there. Steve immediately placed a beer in my hand. Awesome. We ended up staying down there for awhile. John was rockhopping for a long time on the river and even met some girls who thought he was impressive. He told me they clapped for him, so I said, "Impressing the ladies." His response, "You know it." Hahaha. Too funny.

Jennifer tagged me in this on FB. John photobombed their family pic! Haha!
I was able to get John up to the lodge in time for the awards and raffle. He had had such a great time up to this point, but oh no, when he opened his backpack and saw that his chocolate chip cookie was broken, the world ended. It was so silly that I couldn't help but laugh, but oh my god. The attitude. He proceeded to lie on the ground with his backpack over his face for awhile. That was fine with me because it kept him from complaining. EJ Hrynowski gave me a Nightshift beer that I had once we got home. I was super psyched to learn that Regina, Jenn and I led our CMS women's team to the Open National Championship!!! I was a very weak 3rd, but we still pulled it off. Regina, another teammate and I earned 2nd team in the Masters. Unfortunately, someone took our medals, so we never got them. I don't care much about medals, but that one is kind of cool to have, so I was a little bummed about that. They never surfaced.
Cookie breakage turned a great day into the worst day ever.

1st team!

I was really beat the rest of the day and just sat out on my deck. I was happy to see Loon in the rearview because my favorite mountain race was only a week away!! The Cranmore Hill Climb! I had my sights set on a win. And not a close win. I wanted to be FAR ahead. Just had to get through the week first and not do anything stupid.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Mount Adams Challenge

Monday, June 27, 2016- My first week of two 24 hour shifts, instead of 2 10s and a 24, was FINALLY here, and I was SO excited to have my first Thursday off in awhile. The only problem I have with the two 24s is that I have a really hard time getting up on Mondays to run beforehand. I've gotten so used to the afternoon, even though I don't like running in the afternoon, but now that was over. So, needless to say, Monday, I took a zero. It wasn't such a bad thing. If I could pick any day that would be the best day to zero, it would be Monday, so it kind of works out. Definitely makes it harder to get higher mileage weeks in, but that might also not be so bad. I did walk on the treadmill at work for 2 miles and got sleep that night, which was nice. John called during the day to let me know that he and his dad were going to Marshfield, Ma through Friday morning, so I was now going to have a Tuesday free.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016- No more sleeping in on Tuesdays since I'm out of work by 7am. Tuesdays have officially become track day. Since John was out of town, I didn't have to rush to get back by 10am, so I took my time getting ready then drove over to the Conway Rec Path to do a 2-mile warm up on the trail to the track. I was solo this week, so I had to come up with something to do on my own and decided on 12x400 with 400 rest in between. I've definitely decided I like 400s. It seems to be the one I can be the most consistent with. My first one was a little fast, but I was able to fix that with second one and ran pretty well for the remainder. 86, 88, 88, 88, 88, 88, 88, 87, 87, 87, 85, 85. I was definitely pleased with this, even though I'm not sure if it's that good or not. Haha.

The sprinklers felt great on that awful black top

I broke down and got spikes.
I ran the two miles back to the car, but I was so hot that I stopped to skinny dip in the Saco on the way back. The mountain run I had planned for right after the track got scratched off the list. I wanted to kayak instead and did a 5-mile end to end trip on Silver Lake. I love kayaking and need to fit in more of it. I had to make the most of a rare Tuesday free.
Kind of gross

By the time I finished kayaking, I rushed home to shower and head to my next fun thing...the Six03 Dover Pub Run. I know it's a far drive to run 5 miles, but it's not something I ever get to do, and Dover is one of the pub runs I hadn't been to yet. The last pub run I went to was this same Tuesday a year ago. I just wanted a chance to experience it, so I don't know why people are SO shocked I drove all that way. I obviously travel all over the place, so what's the big deal? Anyway, I talked to Amanda DeBlauw beforehand, and she, like me, just wanted to run an easy 5-mile loop. We were joined by Mark Breen and two other guys. One of them would drop off after a mile saying he was injured. This dude gave me a bad vibe, and I'm not sure I believe he's injured; I just don't think he could keep up with us. Haha. We weren't really going that fast and ended up with 5.2 miles at 7:47/mi pace, exactly what I was hoping to run. The run was great and took us through a kind of rural area outside of Dover. I  might try to make to another one of these this year. As soon as we got back, I walked to my car to change clothes for the Brickhouse. The "injured" guy was there and started talking to me and saying things you don't typically say to people when you first meet them. I won't elaborate, but I really think he was just there to hook up so I ignored him after that and then felt sorry for the poor girl he was all over at the bar. He seriously just gave me a bad vibe. After the track workout, kayaking and the pub run, I was STARVING. I didn't really have much time to eat during the day, so I stuffed my face and had two beers. It was nice actually knowing a few people at this pub run since I used to be all alone at the Rochester one, so I had company to talk to the whole time I was there.
Poutine and a sweet potato burger. I ate every bite.
Wednesday, June 29, 2016- No idea how I got myself up to run less than 12 hours after the pub run, but I did. I had to shorten since I got up 10 minutes too late for the 5 mile run. I ran 4.2 to even the mileage out to 20 so far for the week. Quick progression run with elevation at 7:04/mi pace.

On to another 24 hour shift that ended up being really busy. We had some great storms that led to awesome skies all day long.

Thursday, June 30, 2016- Yay!! Thursday was finally here!! And my plan to do the Mt Adams Challenge was falling into place. My friend, Doug Mayer, came up with the idea of this challenge after doing something similar over in Europe. The challenge is to run a certain route up to the top of Mt Adams in under 2:10, and then if you complete it, you get a free latte at the White Mountain Cafe and a free beer at SaALT, both in Gorham. Sounded like a win-win all around. Here's a link to read more about it in depth. Mount Adams Challenge.

I marked the route on my map.
Run up Mt Adams? No problem. I also expected to run it around 1:40. Easy peasy. Well, it didn't turn out that way at all. Haha. I knew I had some Clif Shot Blocks in my pack, so I thought I would have some of those at the start and then a few more on the way up. I got to the Appalachia Trailhead, put on my shoes then grabbed the shot blocks. Only 2! Oops. I had nothing else and 5.4 miles of climbing to the top of Mt Adams. I SO did not anticipate the difficulty of this run on no fuel. It started ok. I felt good. Comfortable pace. Missed a turn less than a mile in, but probably only lost less than a minute here. Back on track. The grade gets steeper and the footing much rougher and technical in the second mile. About 2.5 miles in, the route takes a sharp right off the Brookside Trail onto the Watson Path. There were plenty of warnings to be careful here since it was easy to miss the trail. Well, I still missed it. Some hikers were coming my direction just as I passed it, so I was looking at them and missed the trail. I didn't realize it until I hit the next trail intersection. Dammit! I actually had to stop to look at my map to see how back I messed up. It wasn't too, too far, so I made my way back, and just my luck, the two hikers I had passed were stopped in the trail right where the Watson Path veers off and were completely blocking the trail. Ugh. They moved out of the way for me, but it still lost me some time. In the grand scheme of things, I maybe lost 2 minutes, but they would make not much of a difference in how awful my run up would end up being.

I was still feeling ok and really enjoyed the Scar Trail section. The real climbing would begin after this on the Airline Trail. Just as I got about treeline, I started bonking hard. I was all of a sudden stumbling and falling. I ended up hurting my already hurt hand from Mt Washington's fall. I started watching my time get slower and slower and slower as I climbed on. I was still able to run somewhat on Gulfside, but I stumbled even more and fell 3 times. My body was so depleted. I had zero energy. When I watched my gps hedge towards 1:50, I knew I was going to meet the challenge but with a very disappointing time. Since it no longer mattered, I walked the entire Lowe's Path to the summit. Didn't run a step. I was so done. I was barely moving by the time I reached the sign in 1:55:19. 5.4 miles 4592ft of elevation gain. The weather was cool and absolutely gorgeous, so I enjoyed the cool breeze at the summit. Took the required photo with the summit sign and my watch. A guy who was on the summit offered to take my picture with the sign, and then I proceeded to guzzle water. I was so thirsty and soaked in sweat. Pretty dumb move on my part not making sure I had some sort of fuel and at least some electrolytes.

Because I was so soaked in sweat, the cool wind made me chilled pretty quickly so I didn't stay on the summit long. I even had to put on my jacket to stay warm until I got lower. Because I was so beat, I decided to the shortest route back, the Airline Trail. The first part was so rough, that I barely ran, but as soon as I got down the steep part, I ran the whole way down. 3.8 miles. By the time I was down there, I could barely stay upright. My plan to run easy at the last Great Glen Trails race a few hours later was a no-go. I was way too beat. I changed clothes then headed into Gorham for some lunch and my free latte. I got shot down on the latte, unfortunately, which really bummed me out. They told me I had to get approval first. I'd not heard of anyone not getting their free drink right away, but since Doug had given me a $20 gift card to the place way back when I helped promote Run with the Alps, I was able to use that and still get a free latte and panini. I needed food so bad and scarfed it all down. I was able to reach Doug while I was still there, so he got me on their approval list. I guess I have a free latte next time!

When I left, I still had an hour before the pub opened for the free beer, so I drove back up to Pinkham Notch to fill my water jugs at the spring, then drove back to SAaLT for the beer. This place was great, and the owner didn't even question me on the Challenge. I had a nice Allagash Black in front of me quickly. I talked to him for awhile until they got busier. I struck up a conversation with another woman who was also solo at the bar which is a rare occurrence. I usually get chatted up by men or am able to avoid all contact with the others. Haha. She was cool. We talked running and hiking then wished each other well as I headed out.

I drove back up to the Notch to Great Glen Trails. I was still attending the end of the series party. It kind of hurt not to be running, but on the other hand, I was literally hurting and made the right move. I caught up with Meg Skidmore and Tara Soraghan before the awards and raffle. I saw Margaret there and assumed she got her win tonight to seal first place. Well, she got first place, alright, but she didn't run it either!! Argh! If I had known that, I would have mustered up the energy to run the course easy so that that we would have tied! Of course! haha. Oh well. 2nd was fine with me. The whole event took way too long. I just wanted to go home! Most people win something in the raffle, which I did, but when I saw what I won, I busted out laughing. There are multiple of each raffle item EXCEPT what I got... a Salomon pint glass! Of course! Hahaha!

I bolted out of there as soon as I could. I ate ANOTHER meal that I had taken to go from SAalt when I got home, plus had another beer. I was done in and and this disappointment had started to set in. I know I said no more disappointments, but in this case, I definitely should have done better than a 1:55:19. By far. So the plan is to go back in September and give it another go. It may not be the 1:40 I thought, but I really hope it's about 10 minutes faster.

Friday, July 1, 2016- Woke up to OUCH in my calves. SO sore. I needed a road run with little elevation so I decided on Haley Town Rd in Fryeburg. It had a been a little while since I had done this one, so it was good to go back. My calves were on fire, so I planned this to be an easy run. Maybe I should stop "planning". I ended up running this really quick considering my dead legs. 8.1 miles at 6:57/mi pace!! Even though it has hills, they are gradual, so I tend to run "flat" stuff fast without even trying. I think I only felt the real effort in mile 7, but other than that, it came pretty easily. I really shouldn't have done this run this fast, though. My legs were so sore by the afternoon, and I was starting to think I had fucked up Loon which was 2 days away.

I had a lot of errands to run after this run, including getting John a fish to surprise him. Someone had left a fish tank in the EMS room at the hospital  with a sticky note that said "take me home". I had to follow instructions, so I did. I finished up my errands and came home. John was already there, so I didn't get to surprise him with his fish in the tank. Grr. But he didn't mind. I'll admit that I wanted an excuse to be lazy for the rest of the day. I have trouble not doing anything, but I was SO tired, and as luck would have it, thunderstorms rolled in and it rained the rest of the day and night. Ahhhh. I needed the forced rest.
John's new fish
Saturday, July 2, 2016- I slept in really late then decided to run on the treadmill because I could keep it flat. Only 3 miles at 1% grade 7:05/mi pace. Legs felt ok, but then I took the dogs on a walk up Heavenly Hill to get them some exercise. It was on this walk that I would have my first calf cramp ever in my life! Uh oh. Loon was one day away! Haha. I knew I was screwed. It wasn't extremely painful and only lasted a few seconds, but I would end up having two more during the day. Only in the left leg. Walking up the Hill probably wasn't a good idea.
Me with Chill. He looks so dumb here. Haha.
Since John and I were going to Lincoln for the Loon Mt Race bib pickup later in the day, I decided to take him to the Squam Lake Science Center again. We hadn't been in 2 years; the last time we were there was three days before I ended my marriage, so it was kind of weird to go back in my new place in life where I am so much happier. I think John enjoyed it way more this time, too. I practically had to drag him out of there to get to bib pickup on time.

From there we drove up to One Love Brewery in Lincoln. Yes, I'll admit it. I wanted to do the early packet pickup because it was a brewery. Unfortunately, this was a brewery that only had one beer of its own, a kolsch which I don't like anyway. I felt like I had to try it...and then regretted it when I tasted it. Blech! No good at all. The place seemed nice, and they did have other good beers on tap, so I can't diss the whole place, but they need to do something about that beer. Like get rid of it and start over. According to Untappd, they have had other beers, so if they bring back that Inka Binka stout, I'll try them again.

My beer, front bib, back big and EJ in the background entertaining people. Haha.
A busy day, but we got home before dark. I needed to start thinking about LOON! This would be my 6th Loon Mt Race. I've had so many ups and downs here. I wasn't too nervous due to it being a National Championship year, but I was still hoping I'd run well enough to be happy with it and not cursing my bad choices over the last week.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Falmouth Five & Dime Trail Race and A Lot of Stuff in Between

I am soooooSLACKING on my blog. Oops. Like I said before, I just don't want to sit down at these stupid desktop computers and write stuff. I really need to get another MacBook, even if it's a really old refurbished one. In the meantime, I'll just keep playing catch up. And now that I've gotten a month behind again. Not even sure what I did the day after Mt Washington, so I'll look through my photos and try to figure it out. Haha. I do know that after Mt Washington, I realized that I was beat. Like really beat. I had told Jeff Walker a few days after Ascutney that I would run his race, the Falmouth Five and Dime Trail Race in Maine, but the day after Mt Washington, I realized there was no way I could race the following weekend. I really needed a race break, so I messaged Jeff and told him I was backing out. Instead of letting me be a quitter, he told me to just come run it for fun. I thought about it for a little bit and decided that I would do that. I'm not one of those people who's afraid to have a slow time in their results. I already have plenty of those, so what's one more, right? Haha. With no pressure to race hard, I actually ended up pulling a fairly decent week of running in after Mt Washington.

Sunday, June 19, 2016- I decided to get an easy 5 miles in in the neighborhood. I managed to make it a progression run, albeit a slow one. Up and back 5 times to make 5.1 miles at a 7:53/mi pace. 406ft of elevation gain. Should have felt ok, but my leg injury from the fall at Mt Washington was really painful. The large muscles on the front of my leg were swollen and bruised, so the bouncing hurt. I had to wear a bandage over the two cuts on my feet since they fell right where my shoes hit. I still managed to push through it, but it did bother me. John and I went to the lake for him to swim for awhile that afternoon. And that was pretty much it. Very lazy day.

Monday, June 20, 2016- This was supposed to be my last Monday 10 hour shift and on call shift, but with a crew member out due to an injury, I got asked if I wanted to work the 24. I didn't really, but the overtime was too good to pass up, so I accepted it. I didn't get up early to get a run in, so it ended up being a zero day for me. (I have yet to get myself up on a Monday since, so this has been a recurring zero day. Haha.) I honestly don't remember anything about the day except getting to see the Strawberry Moon. The picture doesn't do it justice since it was definitely amazing.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016- The day had finally come. I was ready to switch gears from all slow mountain/trail runs to bringing back the speed. The one training tool I had been shunning for so many years reared its ugly head and beckoned me to it. THE TRACK!!! The oval from hell designed by the devil himself. (Even though I don't believe in that stuff, it just sounds right! Haha.) I decided to finally break down and start making my way to the track once a week. If it wasn't for the All-Terrain Series, I probably wouldn't be doing it, but it dragged me into the world of track, both indoor and outdoor. It's grown on me a bit. That doesn't mean I like it, and I hope to never do another 10,000m race in my life, but it's not that scary foreign land anymore. I'm now start to see the benefit. So today was the day to start doing it consistently.

Amy Bernard and family were up at their house here for a little bit. Their house is only 3.5 miles from mine, so it's cool to have them close! I mentioned to Amy that I was doing a track workout on Tuesday, and before I knew it, she had invited herself along. Haha. She's one of the few people I enjoy hanging out with, so I was psyched to have her join me, especially since I didn't know what the hell I was doing. She asked me what I had planned. I didn't really know, so I just looked up what other people do and told her 6x800. That sounded official. Amy was all for it, so we met up at the Conway Rec Path to run that for a warm up to the track. It's 2 miles and almost completely flat. We ran easy over to the track and then realized it was hot as balls (as Amy would say). The Kennett track is a black top, so it makes a hot day feel even hotter. I didn't really know how to time splits, so Amy did it for us. I told you I was clueless about this stuff. Who times splits other than miles?! Track runners. Oh yeah. That's me now, so it was time to figure out the watch split thingy. Anyway, we got through that workout, actually running pretty consistently. 6 didn't sound so hard at first, but by the time 4 were done, I was dying. It was so freaking hot, and I just wasn't used to this. Plus my leg injury really started to hurt. We finally clicked off the last two. 6x800 with 400 of rest in between. Splits went 3:00, 3:01, 3:00, 3:03, 2:59, 2:57. I was happy with that. I didn't know if that was actually good or not, but it seemed ok. We finished off the track with some goofball selfies.

We finished off the run with 2 miles back to the cars on the Conway Rec Path. It's the perfect warm up and cool down since it's on the trail in the shade. This would become my track routine.

Amy ended up inviting John and me over to hang out by the lake with her and her kids, so after John got home, we did that. I was joking around and told Amy I'd wear my mom suit, and if it had been anybody but Amy, I would have put my foot in my mouth. Amy admitted she was wearing a mom suit, so I was like what the hell, I own one (I never wear it), so I decided to wear mine, too. I brought beers along, too, so there we were in our mom suits drinking beer while the kids swam. It was a good time.
If you like blueberry beer, this is definitely one of the best I've had.
Looking HAWT in the mom suits
John swam for hours there, and by the time he was done, he was really exhausted. By the time ninja class rolled around, he said he couldn't do it. He was just too tired. We ended up going to the Whitaker Woods Summer Series race. I had missed the first two and really wanted to go, so we did. I had no plans to race it. For me, these races have turned into fun runs. So I literally went out at a very slow place and still ended up first woman. haha. Two minutes slower than my fastest time on the 5K course, just to give you an idea of how much slower I really did run. It was nice. I caught up with Darin Brown a bit during it and really just enjoyed myself. I hung out after and talked to Kim Proulx for awhile before we left. I found John had fallen sound asleep there by the finish. The poor kid.
Pic from the start of Whitaker Woods by Donna Cormier
Roger Marcoux gave me a copy of the video he took of me on Foss Mt last year since I had never seen it all the way through. It was great. I videoed a snippet of it with my phone.

(I was just informed by Kevin Tilton as I'm writing this, that I missed a Kevin sighting photo! He said he rode by here (I'm at work) on his orange bike about an hour ago looking like a goofball. I'm so disappointed to have missed that opportunity, but now I know. Goofball on an orange bike. Got it.)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016- My last 34 hour shift! Yay!! I couldn't believe it was almost over...just had to get through 34 hours first. Ugghhhh. I made sure I got up for my treadmill run early because not running and then working 34 hours really makes me antsy. I surprisingly felt really good and busted out my usual 5 mile progression run with elevation. 35:29. 7:06/mi pace. As far as elevation goes. I run 2.7 miles of it at 1% and 2.3 miles of it at 3%. Never 0%. Using an online calculation for elevation gain, every time I do this particular run, I'm getting about 507ft of elevation gain. I think it's a pretty effective training tool since it's the only time I ever really do a progression run, but I don't really do it often enough this time of year.

Work wasn't too busy so I was able to swing by the track to watch John's practice. I loved watching him put so much effort into running since I've never really seen him do that much before. He came in last, but he was really trying hard. He's in the white shirt.
Conway Rec Youth Track Program. 
Oh, and speaking of Kevin Tilton. I had been holding his Ascutney award hostage for over a week. Cheese and pepperoni! He's lucky I didn't eat it all myself, but Kevin promised me beer in exchange. That was enough to keep me being good. I had been really tempted to pull an "Eric Narcisi's Sunglasses" daily photo blog, but since they were perishable, I decided against it. But oh the fun I could have had with that pepperoni!! Hahaha. :) Kevin let me know he was going to stop by my work to pick up the goods while leaving me with ALL of his beer. He was pretty disappointed with his Mt Washington race and decided to give up beer. Ask him how long that lasted! hahaha. Let's just say that by July 1st, he was back to being a chronic poster on the secret beer FB page. I gladly took the beer, though.
Me awaiting the hand off.

Here comes the blue car! I'm hiding behind the cheese so he doesn't see me taking the photo.

Kevin's car sighting!!
My loot!
Thursday, June 23, 2016- Made my last trek over to Starbucks for my usual coffee run as I travel from my 24 hour shift in North Conway to my 10 hour shift in Tamworth. One technically ends at 7am while the other starts at 7am, but since we have enough crews, the 35 minutes in between isn't too bad. Plus, I always grab one of my coworkers her SBs order while I'm there. While I was waiting, I decided to drop ridiculous $ on one of those Sweet Greens drinks. Left SBs and drove about 2.5 miles when I heard that thud. That same thud the bottle of syrup made before it flew off my car roof after Ascutney. Noooo! My gross green juice! Right after the thud, I watched through my rearview mirror as it flew through the air and landed on the side of the road. I was soooo bummed but just kept going... until I remembered how much that stupid thing cost. Oh fuck no. Banged a quick uey and drove back for it. I was pretty sure I saw it bounce and not explode, and sure enough, other than a dent, it was just fine. Hahaha. When told the story to everybody at the Tamworth base, Jeff told me i needed to install a cup holder on the roof. Haha.

I worked my last 10-hour shift. I was going to miss the Thursday crew for sure, but definitely not that 34 hour shift. I was so ready to have some play time with a full day/night to myself. It was long overdue. I was so excited about it. I was also excited to be finishing up a 58 hour work week!!

I left the base and headed right up to Great Glen Trails for week #7. I was feeling good and decided to really go hard. I realized later that that was pretty dumb since my legs really weren't recovered enough for that, but I ended up running my fastest time of the Series in 23:37. Eli let me actually look at Margaret's time for the day, and wouldn't you know it...23:36. Oh wtf. hahaha. 1 second!!! I had to laugh. I really wasn't that upset about it. I ran as hard as I could, and my legs weren't fresh, so I couldn't expect greatness. It had been a fun blind competition and that's all I could ask for.

Since the Mt Washington Road Race was all done for 2016, I decided to run the short Aqueduct Loop that started up behind the lodge. This is part of the course for There's a Black Fly in my Eye Trail Race they put on every year. I ran slow and easy and even saw a cute little bear that I stopped to watch until it spotted me and ran off. The evening was beautiful so I really enjoyed this run the most. It was only 2.5 miles which made it a short 5.7 miles total for the day. I was so done and starving, though, so I didn't mind the short miles.

I was so excited to get home to see what Amy had brought me from their house before they headed out. Two chaise lounges!! I absolutely hated the couch I had. So uncomfortable. And it was too the point where I was about to just go buy a brand new couch that I couldn't really afford. When Amy messaged me on Wednesday asking if I wanted  two chaise lounges, I didn't hesitate to say yes. I couldn't wait to put them inside the next day.

Amy and Rick were nice enough to deliver them to me and put them in my garage while I was at work. Oh the awesome lamp, too!!
After 34 hours of work and GGTs, I was ready for a good beer. This one definitely hit the spot.
Friday, June 24, 2016- I'm not really sure why I chose the run I did on Friday. I guess it was because I hadn't done the full Center/South Conway Loop since before my injury, and I kind of missed it. It's a somewhat tough run with over 1000ft of elevation gain, and it was pretty warm out. I still felt good from the start though as I ran up Potter Rd and got into a decent groove. I was hitting decent splits for this in the 7:20s and 7:30s. About 4 miles in, I crested a hill to find a cow moose standing in the road eating some plants. I kept running toward her thinking she would run away any second...any second...any second. Ok. So she just stood there staring at me. I realized I needed to stop and try something else. So I clapped my hands and yelled for her to move on. That did the trick, and she immediately started to move across the road when all of a sudden out of the bushes popped a small calf that followed her across the road and into the woods. It was so cute. I continued on my run, still feeling pretty good and moving quickly until I hit the climb up Davis Hill Rd. On the way up, I started noticing signs that said the bridge was closed ahead and to follow the detour. I decided to keep going since I knew I could probably get across it just fine. The climb up Davis Hill was tougher than I remember, but an 8:12 pace really isn't horrible for it. When I finally got to the bridge, I realized that I could definitely get across it, but that it was going to mean bushwhacking through the woods to do it. It was a bad spot for this to happen, since from here the route crosses Brownfield Rd and becomes Gulf Rd which has a decently steep grade for most of it. The bushwhack killed my momentum by the time I got across and started up Gulf Rd. My pace wasn't too far off my fastest when I looked at it later, but it definitely felt far off. I was pretty beat by the time I reached the top and enjoyed the long downhill cruise for the next 1.5 miles before it flattened back out on Potter Rd again. This is where I would be joined by a swarm of deer flies that drove to the brink of insanity for the last nearly 2 miles. As soon as I got to my car, I quickly unlocked the door, got inside and cranked up the air conditioning. I was hot and thirsty and chugged my entire bottle of water. My distance came out to 13.7 miles with my new watch. It had always been 14 miles before, but that's just how it is with GPS devices. They'll never be totally accurate. I ran it in 1:45:25 with an average pace of 7:41/mi. Seems slow, but it's a tough and slower course. I was happy to see that I ran it only 14 seconds slower than the last time I ran it pre-injury on August 3, 2015. I ran my fastest time April 30, 2015 about 1.5 minutes faster. That doesn't surprise me because I was in PRIME shape at that point gearing up for VCM. So all in all, I was very happy with the run. It left me super drained the rest of the day, but it was a good kind of drained.

I went to Frontside Grind from there for a latte and pretzel, then went home. Bryan and John had found the chaise lounges in the garage and taken them in the house for me. That was really nice of them. I had moved the old couch out and cleaned the floor that morning before I left, so it was all ready for them. John and I were SO excited like two kids in a candy store. They were so perfect!! I couldn't thank Amy enough.
Lounging on my lounge

John on his. You can see the old couch was banished to the outside where it belongs.
Even Phoenix loves them. She's the only 1 of the 3 dogs allowed on them, too.
We didn't really want to leave our new chairs, but I promised John Finding Dory at the drive-in in Bridgton, ME. We hadn't been there in a couple of years, and I had forgotten how much fun the drive-in is. We even brought Phoenix with us and had a great night.

Saturday, June 25, 2016- Saturday should have been an awesome day, and it's not like it was bad, but man, I learned my lesson on dragging John along on a long mountain hike when he's in a bad mood. I told him earlier in the year that we had to do Mt Eisenhower at some point this summer. That it was awesome and he'd love it. Boy, was I wrong. Haha. I still gave him plenty of morning time to play his video games. I ran the dogs up and down Heavenly Hill twice. Of course, Spot only did one. I swear she gave the paw as she ignored me and ran home after the first run up and down. Haha. It was only 2.4 miles, but it was also 966ft of elevation gain and took 34 minutes. So it's still decent for a really short workout. I didn't want to do too much so we could get up to the trailhead in Crawford Notch by noon.

It was a beautiful day, but just a little too hot, and that's really what started John off on the wrong foot. It was nearly pure misery for the entire time. Not only that, I forgot about the black flies, so all breaks had to be kept short. That made John even worse. I should have known better and just turned around then, but I really, really thought that once we got above treeline, he would see how awesome it was and snap out of the mood. That did kind of happen, but only to a small degree. He was actually pretty pleasant on the climb up to the summit and then while we hung out on the summit. The walk down wasn't as bad, but he was still glum and too hot. And believe me, I know he was too hot because I think he mentioned it at least 30 times. The hike is 6.7 miles, but what I consider the easiest hikes in the Presidentials, so I didn't think it would be that bad. Oh but it was. He was asking me how much farther literally every .1. Hahaha. Despite his mood lightening a little bit once we were near the top, he still told that it wasn't awesome and described the Presidentials as just a "bunch of bumps". hahaha. Omg. Is he really my kid?! I can laugh about it now, but I was kind of sad to hear him say that. Knowing that he has no appreciation for the mountains here kind of stings a bit. But he's not me and he's allowed to feel the complete opposite as me. He will have his own likes and dislikes. Some of them we'll share. Others we won't. Hiking, running and mountains aren't his thing. I've mostly accepted it, but every now and then, he does have a really great time on a hike, so maybe some day he'll like it. I was really happy to come in second place with this one since he said this was the second worst day of his life. Phew. The worst, he said, was when his dad made him hike up Mt Chocorua. hahaha. So he earned the worst day and not me. :)

So enthused

On top of Mt Eisenhower with a "bunch of bumps" behind him. Haha

Yep. That's my kid. Haha.

So much joy.

He did actually run down this part. He's actually an amazing downhill technical runner.
Although it ended up not being horrible at the end, it was still a trying day. He was in a better mood. I got him some food and went right home, so it all ended up ok. I was really happy the next day's race was a no pressure, fun run for me. I was tired from the hike and a bit drained mentally while trying to deal with John. I didn't stay up too late since we still had to leave early, but I definitely had a good beer to top off the night.

Falmouth Five and Dime Trail Race- The drive over to Falmouth wasn't bad, and we arrived really early before Jeff and his wife even had the registration table set up. He still checked me in, then I took my time getting ready for a warm up. The crowd was small, but there were familiar faces there whom I usually see at the Bradbury trail races, which I'm going to miss all of this year. I went out for an easy warm up on the course, and just as I got started, my watch beeped that the battery was low. It was so low that it shut off within a minute. I happened to have my phone with me so I started it up to record my warm up. I did 1.1 miles, made some Strava art and then went back to the car. I was really bummed about my watch and had no idea how the battery got drained. I still wanted to record the race, so my only option was to carry my phone, and since I didn't bring an arm band for it, I had to literally carry it in my hand. This couldn't have happened at a better race since I wasn't planning to go race pace. So I just said fuck it. I'll carry it in my hand and take race selfies. Haha.

I got John and his stuff up to the starting area where he was going to hang out under a pavilion. He really made himself at home. Brought some Bionicles to play with and his phone. He was in a very pleasant mood....thank god. Haha.

John with his set-up
It was time for the race start so we lined up. I tried to line up in the back, but I was spotted right away and knew I couldn't get away with it without a comment. Haha. But true to my word to myself. I started off easy and never pushed myself for the entire trail race. The trail itself made that easy since it was mostly flat, windy mountain bike trails that were really fun. The beginning and end went through fields that were reminiscent of Pineland Farms; I started having flashbacks! haha. The trails were really nice. Not too technical. Just made running easy. I started out first woman right away and stayed that way. I ran alone for awhile and shot a few race selfies. I even messaged John and another friend as I was racing. John sent me back his own selfie.

Trail through the field

Race selfie!
John sent me a selfie back.
About halfway through, I caught up with Ian Parlin. I thought it would be funny to pass him and snag a photo. Haha. Most came out blurry, and I was bummed to find out that Ian was shooting a bird at my phone, and I didn't get a single shot of it!! What the hell! Haha.

Me and Ian mid-race
I got ahead of them and pretty much ran the rest of the way solo. It was fun since I was running an easy pace and not stressing over winning, since I knew I was already going to win. I finished the 10.1 miles in 1:27:18, a pretty slow time. I hope I don't run anything close to that pace this Saturday at Run with the Beavers Trail Race or I'll be disappointed. Today, it was ok, though, and I still won the RRCA Maine State Championship for the 10 mile. That was cool. I got a $50 gift certificate to Forside Tavern that I've been wanting to go to. It was great. John was in a really happy mood and ended up playing with another kid there for awhile. I caught up with some people I hadn't talked to in awhile like Sue Thompson and her husband and John Rodrigue. Really laid back and good race. Thank you to Jeff Walker for talking me into doing it. Well worth the trip over.

I had promised John a trip to Old Orchard Beach after the race, so we drove right down. The place was really crowded, but we had no trouble finding parking in the municipal lot. I found a spot to sit down and then John headed for the waves. He was only a speck out in the water for pretty much the next 2 hours, since he played in the waves the entire time. He had so much fun. I just lied there and watched him the whole time. He's a great swimmer, but I still didn't want to take my eyes off of him for more than a few seconds just in case.

When he was done, he came over and said he was ready to leave. I was game because I was STARVING by this point. I had hardly eaten a thing since before the race, so we drove down the road to have lunch at Jimmy the Greek's. We sat outside. I ordered a small flight of beers and a calzone, and John got a pizza. The Bionicles joined us. :) It was such an opposite day from Saturday since I had such a happy kid with me. Take him to the ocean or any place to swim, and he so happy. Take him hiking up a bunch of bumps and forget it. Haha. 

John at Jimmy the Greek's

I love beer.
The drive home was tough because it always puts me to sleep. I don't know how I had the energy, but I walked the dogs up Heavenly Hill when we got home. Well, 2 dogs. Spot gave me the paw again and went back to the house on her own. I sat out at the view for awhile.

Me with Phoenix
I think I was finally all done after that and could barely keep my eyes open. My real Monday 24 hour shift started the next day, followed by a 24 on Wednesday, and then it was my first play day on Thursday. I already had a plan and couldn't wait.