Monday, August 8, 2016

Cranmore Hill Climb 2016

Cranmore was coming up on Sunday, and I was pretty excited about it and definitely ready for it. I didn't feel like I needed to really take it easy since it's my kind of course. By this week, I was beginning to feel like myself more. No more recovering from the marathons and the June races. I was finally catching up...ok, maybe not my fitness, but I feel that will come. I think I may have to hope for next year for that, but, whatever. All I know is that things are slowly improving.

Highlights from the week...

Monday, July 4, 2016- Not only did I have the misfortune of working my usual 24 on the 4th of July, but I also had the misfortune of spending it at the Town of Ossipee fireworks. I will say it provided immense entertainment, and it was astonishing that with that crowd, we had no incidents. The fireworks ended up being pretty awesome and then we had ZERO 911s the entire night. That could probably go down in the record books because we cover SIX towns here, and the 4th of July usually has the crews up ALL night. So I lucked out big time.
60A6 at the Ossipee fireworks
Tuesday, July 5, 2016- Track Tuesday! 3X1000s. I found these very challenging and was way slower than I thought I should be for them. 3:45, 3:45, 3:46. 2x400. I like these. 85, 85. Usual 4 trail miles for a warm up and cool down.
2nd run for the day was during John's ninja class. I've been completely too busy this summer to make the Whitaker Woods Summer Series. I have good intentions, but John and I have been doing stuff every Tuesday, and we don't want to rush back for that. Plus, the Phoenix and Spot need the run, so I've just been running during John's class. Today, I ran too far and made it back with 2 minutes to spare. A reroute on part of the Outer Limits made the run a lot longer. I didn't even realize I was on a reroute until I was too far into it, so I just kept going. 5.2 miles with a lot of climbing and deer flies. Haha.
Chilling at the lake is way better than sweating my ass of at Whitaker Woods

John's purchase from the Army Barracks. Haha.
Wednesday, July 6, 2016- Same ole, same old 24 hour shift in North Conway, except we sweat our asses off in the base, since we have no air conditioning. We were excited to get out on a call in the truck only to realize the a/c was broken in the front. Talk about miserable. I'll honestly say that that day was one of the most uncomfortable days I've ever had. I don't even have a/c at home, but when you're stuck wearing thick long pants, boots and a teflon-coated shirt in a building without air of any kind, it gets uncomfortable fast. At one point, I leaned my upper body inside the freezer. No lie. I did have a cool thing happen later when I was able to sit outside just at sunset in some decent air. I heard rustling from the woods across the road. Just as I looked at it, this bear came bolting out of the woods, across the road right in front of me. It didn't see me until the last second. I just happened to have my phone at the ready so I took some pictures of it. We both looked at each other. I said hi and it just kept on running into the woods behind the base.

Thursday, July 6, 2016- I had plans that morning to meet up with someone for a run, so, of course, a 911 came in at 0645. Haha. Fortunately, the patient decided to go by private vehicle, and we were back at the base by 0715. Unfortunately, though, the plans still fell through due to lack of time, so I had to come up with Plan B. One of my favorites, the Baldface Circle Trail, except I now go up the Slippery Brook Trail to the Baldface Knob Trail before meeting up with the Baldface Circle Trail to complete the 10 mile loop over South and North Baldfaces. I love this run because of the plethora of open ridge running. I ran it easy in 2:31 and stopped a lot to take in the views. The clouds moved in and the weather was cool, maybe in the low 50s up there. Beautiful day for it. 3,560ft total of elevation gain.

Stance is awkward

Thursdays new thing is food and beer after my run, so I drove over to Ebenezer's Pub. I only had one beer and a chicken sandwich. Hit the spot. The prices have gone way up since my last visit to gouge the tourists, so this will be my last visit here until the off season. Still good stuff, though. My beer (albeit a terrible pour) was fantastic.
Lively Brewing Filthy Rich Imperial Stout
Friday, July 8, 2016- Michael Narcisi was up camping with his dad and wanted to get together for a run. I really wanted to check out the Cranmore course so I suggested a loop of that, followed by the mountain bike trails near Pudding Pond. He was game, so we met up in the morning. Paul Kirsch had already marked the whole trail, so we were able to easily follow the course. I'm so glad I got to see the course beforehand because if I hadn't, that climb would have come as a huge shock on race day. From the bottom to the top had very few breaks in climbing; it was relentless. And THEN you hit that last .4 or so. It was no joke in its steepness. We walked almost every step. Wow. Upper Walking Boss's Rival, especially since we had to do it twice. I was super excited on the way down to find the course was just as I requested. Evil laughter ensued!!! Buwahahahaha!!! I knew that unless someone surprising showed up on Sunday, I would have this race in the bag.

We took a quick break in the bottom and then ran over to the mountain bike trails from there doing a lollipop loop for 7.5 miles for a total of 10.4 miles for the morning and over 2400ft of elevation gain. I was beat to shit, especially doing this following Thursday's run.

Afterward, Michael bought me breakfast at the Sunrise Shack. As always, I had a beer, while Mikey had an... orange juice?? Can't you read? It says, "Breakfast Beers!!" Haha. At least he wasn't using a doilie for his orange juice glass.

I ate every bite.
I got home just in time for John to be there. He wanted to have a sleepover with his friend, so we stayed in the rest of the day while they played.

Saturday, July 9, 2016- Gone are the days when I used to not drink alcohol the day before a race. Now, it's like the opposite. Beer festivals instead! Haha. And it's also funny that I was originally signed up for the Bear Brook Marathon for this day. A beer festival sounded way more fun. Haha. In reality, I chose not to do Bear Brook because it really didn't fit into my training and what I wanted to do for the rest of the summer. I was now focusing on roads and gaining speed and just didn't want to take a step back by having to recover all over again from a long distance race. The terrain I would have been fine with, but I felt like I would struggle to recover since I was still not 100% anyway. I didn't want to take 10 steps back, so I backed out of the race. And when the pouring rain woke me up at 6am, I didn't regret that decision one bit. Plus, I had tickets to the Allagash Street Festival, and beer needed to be tasted. :)

I asked John's friend if he wanted to come with us; I thought it would be more fun for John if he had a friend there. Plus, we were going to Get Air Trampoline Park after so I thought he would have fun. Before we left, I got on the treadmill for an easy 5 miles. For some reason, I can't run anything slowly and that isn't a progression on a treadmill so it was still a 7:04/mi pace. I even ran it with elevation which surprises me, but oh well. I guess I felt good.

Off to Portland we went on a rainy, cool day. Stopped at the Bier Cellar to pick up my 5 orders that I had on hold, then it was off to Industrial Way for the Street Fair. The beer festival ended up being alright. There were a few things that could be improved since some food vendors ran out of food with over 3 hours left, and almost all of the guest breweries ran out of beer starting from 1.5 hours into it. I was lucky to hit the one I wanted to hit the most, though. Odell Brewing!! I first found Odell Brewing in 1997 on a ski trip to Breckenridge. Yes, I was even into good beer then (just don't count the years I was slumming with Meister Brau in the early 2000s) and filled my carry-on bag without about 5 22 oz bottles of Odell beer to bring home. I hadn't had it since, so I was happy to get to try the Jolly Russian Imperial Stout before they ran out. Hands down, the best beer I tried that day was Geary's Igneous Porter. I like spicy beers, but not all. This one was CRAZY spicy, but it was also SO good.

After I had had enough, we walked over to Get Air so the boys could have their time. The hour seemed to fly by. We were back on the road and home pretty early so that I could recoup for Cranmore the next day.

Cranmore Hill Climb- My favorite mountain race of the Series was finally here! Yay! Even though this was a local race which meant sleeping in, I still didn't because I had offered to volunteer for registration. I usually do volunteer at this race, and in my 6 years running it, I think I only haven't helped out twice. 2011 and 2015... but I still ended up jumping in with the ambulance crew to help in 2015 due to so many injuries.

So, John and I arrived early. I brought all 3 dogs, too, so I left John in the car with them to sleep more until closer to start time. I worked the day-of registration with Josh Fields which was fun since I got to actually see and/or talk to everyone coming in. Great to size up any competition. Haha. With about 45 minutes to go, I stepped out and went to my car to get dressed for the race and get John out so that he could hang out in Zip's Pub during the race. I did a really short warm up solo. For a race like this, I don't do long warm ups. I think I might have gone a half mile. What I needed was to run UPHILL for it, so that's what I did. My legs needed to be ready for that climb.

Just before the start, I chatted with Kim Proulx and Kyla Brustin (whom I was so excited to see back out running after nearly 2 years of being out with injuries) then we lined up. Jamie Woolsey was there right up at the start line as expected. A few younger girls near me looked pretty focused and serious, so I thought I could have to race this first climb a bit to stay ahead of them. My plan, however, was to hold back a bit from Jamie on the climb and let her get to the top first, but with me really close behind, so that I could take the lead quickly on the downhill.

The race started fast, and just as I thought, a younger girl got ahead of me quickly. (Jamie was already ahead). Just watching this young girl, though, I could tell she was going too fast. I really didn't want to race at this point, but she was moving, and I had to stay with her. She stayed just steps ahead of me until about 2/3 of the way up the first climb. The trail's grade eases up slightly here, so I was able to blow past her and start working my way closer to Jamie. She wasn't a great distance ahead, but the gap was too wide for my comfort level. Maybe 30 yards, but when you're on a steep incline, time-wise, it feels farther.

We finally hit the base of the steep climb, and I immediately started power hiking. I actually felt strong and fast for the first time this year and actually started gaining on people. I quickly closed the gap on Jamie, and by the time we hit the top of the steepest part, I was only about 5 yards back. The trail goes slightly downhill for a very short distance before climbing up to the meister hut where Chris and Karen Dunn were cheering. I was excited to see Lisa Carper taking pictures there, so I smiled and said, "Hi, Lisa!" She got a pretty good pic of me at that moment.
At the Meister Hut. Photo by Lisa Carper
By this point, I was only 5 seconds behind Jamie and could have passed her, but I decided to hang back since this wasn't the end of the climbing. At the top, the course takes a short dip down the backside on Easy Street before turning left to climb back up to the top on the service road. My plan was to stay behind Jamie until we crested out on the top of the Service Road, so I took the Easy Street downhill really easy. As soon as we hit the service road for the climb back up, though, Jamie all of a sudden slowed significantly, and I easily went past her. I would later find out that she had nearly blown out her knee at Loon and was trying to be careful with it. That short downhill had caused her to slow up.

We hit the top of Cranmore for the second time which meant the start of my fun. Hahaha. The downhill back to the base. This is when I put it into high gear and just flew down the ski slope. Scott Mason was there just as I was picking up momentum. Only loop 1, but I was smiling because I knew this race would be mine...FINALLY, on my 6th try. And I LOVE downhills that are steep. I've trained myself well for this over the years, and I was finally going to use it for the ONE win that I've really wanted but have failed to achieve. So, yeah, there are a lot of people who could beat me on this course, but not today. They didn't show up.

My plan was to go all out on the first downhill. Not save a thing. I wanted a really good lead before the second climb since I knew I would naturally slow down. I ended up passing 3 guys on the way down. Might have been 4 since I did pass two people right at the top, but I can't remember. I was laughing by the time we got to the base to start the second loop because I fucking loved that downhill. Thank you, Paul Kirsch, for taking my request to heart! Haha. I hit the first loop in 31:51.
Start of the 2nd loop. Photo by Roger Marcoux

Feeling EXCELLENT at the start of the second loop. Photo by Gianina Lindsey
And back up we went. As expected, I slowed a bit, but there was absolutely no woman in sight, so I wasn't worried about it. I expected all of the men that I had passed on the way down to pass me back, but surprisingly only a few did, and even then, I hung onto them closely through the climb, though. I took a look back on the steep climb and could see the young girl pretty far behind, but no sign of Jamie. I was surprised. I wasn't taking any chances, though, and pushed pretty hard. It was tough this second time around. My quads were on fire, but I still felt really good. As I neared the stop of the service road, I saw the young girl and Jamie just starting down the back side on Easy Street. They weren't a huge distance behind me, but I knew I was about to widen that gap because I once again went all out on the downhill, only running it 11 seconds slower than the first. I passed those guys all over again and just kept on trucking until I was down with the finish line in view.
I came through 1st woman, 22nd overall in 1:05:24. Nearly 4 minutes ahead of the younger girl, while Jamie fell back farther due to her knee to finish 5 minutes behind.

I was elated to finally have a Cranmore win and another 100 points towards the Mountain Series. Two more to go. Greylock will be a close battle with Jamie, for sure, but I think I can take the upper hand at Bretton Woods...unless I choose my course poorly which has happened to the best of them. So it's really still all up in the air from here.

I did a short cool down with all 3 dogs. Michael Narcisi joined me. The awards were quick after that, and then John and I headed out. A great way to end my racing streak before taking a weekend off and starting it all back up again with Run with the Beavers and then nothing but road racing. I'm starting to feel more like I did this time last year, even if I don't have that speed back yet. So it's a good sign.

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