Sunday, August 21, 2016

Run4Kerri 2016

Run4Kerri wasn't on my radar at all, even though I knew about it, but after Michael Crutchley brought it up with me via Facebook, I decided to look more into it. It only took me a few minutes after reading the meaning behind the race to decide that I was in. Run4Kerri is a 4-mile road race that was started in memory of Kerri Bessette, who died after contracting bacterial meningitis in 2001 during her freshman year of college. Her family started up the race and created a scholarship fund to help two South Kingstown, RI female athletes attend college. Check out the website here: Run4Kerri. While perusing the website, I noticed there was an elite field option, so I inquired about being a part of it. After submitting a list of requested PRs, I got an official invite from Scott Bessette to the elite field. Along with that was a free entry code. While I always love free entry into any race, this one didn't sit well with me with my knowledge of the reason behind the race, so when I registered, I used the free code for the registration and then gave a donation of entry fee amount directly to the scholarship fund. I'm not a super awesome person looking for a pat on the back, but I felt like this was the right thing to do here. And maybe this will encourage others who sometimes get comped race entries to consider what the race is for and also make a donation. Anyway, I was in. And excited about it. Another new-to-me race in Rhode Island. I had to get through the week first, and it ended up being a rough week for me personally. Left me pretty off mentally. I realized later on that August has been really tough for me now for the 3rd year in a row. Obviously 2014 was because of the divorce, but for the second year since then, I've had shit come up that's just been tough mentally. Maybe I can turn this around in 2017 because I don't like the trend. But even as I'm sitting here writing this, I'm feeling really blah. Not depressed or anything like that, just blah. I don't know how to describe "blah" really, but I guess it's kind of a numb feeling. Anyway, despite the rough week, I managed some pretty decent runs which left me feeling better, as they always do.

Monday, August 1, 2016-  Typical zero day. I needed it. I was actually sore from the 10K. Definitely no surprise. And I couldn't get myself out of bed anyway. I wasn't ok mentally. And to top it off, it was the 1st which meant the monthly ambulance check. I walked out of the house leaving my coffee on the table to start and then walked into work with our usual ambulance out of service and A12 in its place. AND we had to do the monthly on the day following the biggest slob working on it. Monthly checks involve thorough cleaning of the entire truck, as well as an extra thorough equipment check. The dirtiest part of an ambulance is the cab, since we spend a good amount of time in there. I usually start on this, and it almost always takes me an hour and a half. And just as expected, I find a fucking chocolate chip cookie right by the driver's seat, as well as a bunch of food trash shoved in the door and coffee and some sort of red sticky juice spilled all over the container in the center holding the gloves, map book and protocol book. WTF.
Cookie after I threw it onto the bay floor in anger. That's also old muffin trash that had to be over a month old. 
After I was done with that cab over an hour later, it was spotless. My partners (we had a third) finished up the rest in the back, and then we finally headed out for coffee. I ended up with gross Dunkin' Donuts, but it was better than nothing. I made my breakfast, drank the coffee and then started to feel better, gradually feeling like myself again by the afternoon. We only had a few calls, but it ended up being a good day, and my usual happy mood returned.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016- Tuesday ended up being a good day. Usual Track Tuesday! Coming off the 10K and with Run4Kerri coming up, I didn't want to do anything crazy. I had the plan to do 12x400, but track-smarter friend suggested 8x400 instead. I was happy with that. Still ran the 2 mile trail warm up at a quick pace and then had a pretty decent workout. I like 400s and find it easy to be consistent with them, even though I was a bit off today. In seconds: 87, 84, 86, 84, 86, 85, 83, 82. Two mile trail run back to the car.
The black top at KHS. Sizzling, as usual.
That afternoon, John and I went to Storyland. It was crazy crowded, so we didn't do as much as usual.
John waiting in line for the Turtle Twirl
I made just enough time to drive up to Pinkham Notch to get spring water since it wasn't too far of a drive up from Storyland. John was sound asleep the whole time. Ninja class for John, as usual, after that, while I ran Spot and Phoenix on a trail run in the Outer Limits, shortened, of course, since I don't have much time. 4.3 miles.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016- Got my ass out of bed to find my calves really sore from the track workout. Funny, when I'm not always feeling 100%, I tend to have good runs. Busted out my fastest Wednesday morning 5 mile treadmill run feeling really good. 6:58/mi pace. Progression run. 1-3% every half mile. Really happy to see my fitness level increasing.

The only downside to getting my ass out of bed so early is that I am junk most of the day at work. SOOOOOTIRED. I rarely nap, but after spending hours working on the billing stuff, I lied down for hours. Not sleeping, but just resting in the quiet. I was back in this week's slump and couldn't eat all day until I forced myself to eat a salad around 9 after we got back from a call. Lying down did help with my mood, so after that call, I felt ok again. This whole week would go like this. Up, down, up, down. You could chalk it up to PMS, but the timing was a tad off for that. Haha.

Thursday, August 4, 2016- Woke up feeling good. Yay! And Thursday ended up being a good day, even though I was tired as hell. I drove over to Franconia Notch for the short loop of the Franconia Ridge Run. I was originally planning the longer loop, but I barely had the energy for the short loop, and it was HOT. The last time I did this run it was with Kyla Brustin, almost 2 years ago to the day. I didn't plan it that way; just realized it after the fact. It was an absolutely picture perfect day, just like when Kyla and I ran it. I was hoping to run it faster this time, even feeling beat. I felt great at first, then once again, bonked SO hard in the last half mile. I had to power hike almost all of it. I still made it up there a minute faster than last time. Don't look at Strava; I must have stopped just a few feet off of the segment's end this time since I had 1:03 on my watch when I got to the ridge. I took a 5 minute break to drink water and refuel then moved on. The Strava segment says 1:08, so I must have been just shy of the ending point. Anyway, I continued on, definitely lacking in the energy I had the last time I ran it .
View from where I reached the ridge.

Looking back from where I came from

Weird face, but I couldn't see what I was taking. Lafayette behind me.

Back down below with the ridge I just ran behind me.
The trail was so crowded, but I expected that. It was a beautiful day to be up there. Just makes it hard to pass people. I love this ridge run, though. Just so amazing. I still remember the first time I made my way across it during my 1998 AT thru-hike, my first time ever in New Hampshire. It was amazing! And it STILL is! I just went through my 1998 photo album. Such a shame that we still used film cameras then because the photos are terrible, but I found this gem of a photo (DORK! haha!) from my first time every on Mt Lafayette.
Love my oversized men's Gore-Tex jacket. Those Leki poles next to me have travelled over 7000 hiking miles with me.
I didn't spend long on Lafayette. It was super crowded. The run down the ridge to Greenleaf Hut is beautiful, but technical. Past Greenleaf, the trail gets super technical. I had forgotten just how technical, so I had to really concentrate hard to keep up a quick pace. I even amaze myself sometimes with my skill at this. The quick coordination between my eyes to my feet took years of practice, and it's pretty awesome to be able to move through that stuff so quickly. That doesn't mean I don't choose poor steps at times, but I have learned to quickly offset poor step choices, too. I still fall and still hurt myself, so I'm not perfect, and I do wonder at what point my reaction time will slow only for me to realize it as I'm tumbling down some rocky trail onto my head. Hopefully, I still have time! Haha.

Finished up the 8-mile loop in 2:30:50, nothing impressive, but 12 minutes faster than 2 years ago, so I'm happy with that. I was tired and bonking, so I'll take it.

It was right to the Woodstock Brewery for lunch and beer. I sat at the bar outside. The food took like 5 minutes, so I was in and out of there quickly.
I love dark beers year round!
I SO wanted to get out kayaking that afternoon, but after the drive home across the Kanc, I could barely keep my eyes open. I went right to the couch and lied down for an hour. I doubted I would have the energy to get up again, but the lake was calling. I had saved a beer Michael Crutchley gave me at Run with the Beavers race and decided to bring it along for this kayak paddle since I was bringing Spot and Phoenix along. The beer is Dogs & Boats and beats Heady Topper in my opinion. Getting a shot with the beer and both dogs on my kayak took a lot of tries. Haha. Spot fell in twice. I ended up just getting more individual dog shots. I decided to paddle Chocorua since it had been awhile. It took forever with the dogs, and Spot literally almost got attacked by a loon. There was a loon in the middle of the lake with its baby. We weren't close to it, but Spot was swimming along behind the kayak. I saw the loon dive under from a distance, and the next thing I knew, the thing popped out of the water right next to my kayak!! I've never seen one that up close before. She then turned and started swimming and yelling behind me going after Spot. Poor Spot; it would just be her luck to be the only dog attacked by a loon. Spot was just swimming along and never went near the loon, and the thing finally backed off and swam back to its baby. Here's a series of fun shots I took with the dogs and the beer. I have way too much fun. Too bad no one can keep up to join me. Haha. Ok. That's a lie. The people who actually get to know me realize eventually that I'm no fun at all. So if you're thinking I'm fun, run far away! Haha.

Friday, August 5, 2016- No rest for the weary because I've got shit to do. Haha. Ok, I wasn't that excited when my alarm went off at 6am so I could get to Portland for an early morning appointment. Nothing medical. All "beauty". Haha. Some things you just can't get done in the Valley. I had just enough time to swing by the Holy Donut for a power breakfast. The last time I had a Holy Donut before a run over the winter, it was the best long run I had. It has to be those Maine potatoes. :) I got a donut for me and one to give John later, hit my appointment, then drove down to Scarborough to run on the Eastern Trail. As always, I planned an easy run, but since it was SO flat, I ran it a little quicker than that. I still kept the effort low and tried to keep the first half of the run on the slower side.

This was my third try on running the Eastern Trail, and I guess the third time is the charm. Even though it was SO hot out, most of the trail was in the shade. Probably 95% of what I ran, anyway. The only open parts were the short sections through the marsh. I ran an out-and-back for 8.1 miles. Averaged out a 7:04/mi pace which is quick, but on a flat trail like that, I would normally run it all under 7s, so I was happy to reign it in somewhat.

I had just enough time to get lunch before driving home and went to the Little Tap House in Portland. This place was great. I sat outside even though it was really hot out because I smelled and was pouring sweat. Haha. The beer hit the spot.

When I got home, I found this in my mailbox...

Yikes! A reminder at how close this is getting! Pretty cool, though. Went right on my car. I've started to add more and more stickers to my car again. It's almost looking like my Jeep in college. I so wish I had a picture of it. My ex husband HATED stickers on the cars, and every time I put one on, he would take it off. So I take great pleasure in putting this shit back on my car knowing that it makes him cringe every time he sees it. Haha.

The rest of the day/night wasn't so fun. John and I just hung out at the house. We had to get up REALLY early the next morning to get him to the Cape before the traffic, so I wanted to get into bed early.

Saturday, August 6, 2016- Woke up at 4am, and we were on the road by 5am. I was dropping John off at the Cape with his dad's family for over a week! It's their annual 2-week vacation to Truro, and John and his dad always go down for part of it. Since I was heading to Rhode Island anyway, I decided it would be easier to just drop John on my way. We barely beat the traffic, too. It was starting already before 8am. Those people are crazy! John's grandparents met me in Yarmouth. I was pretty sad to say goodbye to John for so long, but I knew he was in good hands, and it's good for him to hang out with his extended family. He hardly ever sees mine, so I'm grateful they are so close and so good to him.
It was hard to leave him for so long. I felt like a piece of me was gone and immediately felt lonely. I have plenty of days without him during the week, but this would be the longest I had ever been away from him. He's the only person I have in my life, so it's no surprise I felt this way. I was in store for a very lonely week. I still had fun at times, but in general, it got old.

I said goodbye and then drove over to West Barnstable Conservation Area for a short run. I only planned 4-5 miles and didn't have time for much more. The trails at this place are insane. So many of them, and unless you have hours to kill, a map is a necessity. If I hadn't printed one off, I would have gotten so lost. I picked a loop that looked like it would be 5ish miles and would also take me over the high point of Barnstable. It was nothing spectacular at just over 200ft, but still cool to hit. Haha.
Highest point in Barnstable, Ma.
The loop landed me back in the parking lot right at 5 miles on the mark. Not bad! I made it a super easy run since I didn't want to be tired for the next day's race. Kind of a fun place to run. I would definitely stop here again.

It took me awhile to stop sweating so I hung out in the parking lot until I could change into my dry clothes that I wouldn't sweat all in. Then I headed to Providence. I needed food badly at this point, and in my Google search for the best breakfasts in Providence, I found homemade corned beef hash at the Elmwood Diner. Sounded worth a try so I drove there. And wow, what a breakfast (even though, it was noon by this time)! It did not disappoint. The waitress seemed to hate me the whole time, but she still gave me good service, and the corned beef hash was amazing. I highly recommend it! Ignore the neighborhood and the run down look of the place. It's worth the visit. I did end up sweating buckets while I was in there, so I changed clothes again and put my nasty, sweaty hair up in my hat. Make-up, earrings, and I almost looked like I had showered! Haha.

I had gotten a ticket to Augtoberfest at Foolproof Brewing in Pawtucket and since I had nowhere else to go in the meantime, I just drove back up there. I was a little early, but it worked out for parking and getting a beer right away. I brought my chair and tried to set it up so that I wasn't too obviously the only loser there alone, but that didn't work. There was another loser there alone who of course spotted me right off the bat and tried to make small talk. Yeah, no. I don't think so. I was friendly enough, but he got the picture and moved on. Smart guy. I wasn't in the mood. I felt like a total loser and wanted to just leave already, but I tried to enjoy the band a little and got another beer.

The Pawtucket Times photographer, Ernie Brown, took my picture there, so that was kind of fun for a few minutes talking to him. He asked why I was in RI, and I told him Run4Kerri. He said he used to cover the race years before when he worked for the paper down there and asked me to tell Scott Bessette hello for him. I did end up getting a chance to do just that, and Scott remembered him. It was nice talking to Ernie, however briefly (and no, my picture didn't get in the paper; no one wants to see a pic of a a single loser at a brewfest). I was really missing my buddy at this point and texted John for awhile to see how he was doing. He had already been in the waves and said he was having fun. I do almost everything alone, but sitting in the middle of a crowd all alone made me feel so exposed, like they could all see right through me. The sun all of a sudden came out in full force, so I moved over to the shade by the building. I decided that after I finished my second beer, I was just going to leave. Use my $5 food voucher on the way out and just go down to my campsite at Burlingame. But all of a sudden... I heard, "O'Dell!!"

Who the hell would know me here?! To my shock I looked up to see Tom Hooper and his girlfriend, Camie, standing in the line for beer! I had told Tom I was going to this the day before. He actually said he might come down because his stepbrother, Chris, does sales for Foolproof, but when I saw that he had run a race in NH just a few hours before, I doubted he would show up. So I was definitely surprised, especially since they only came down for this and were headed right back to NH after, and so relieved that I had people to hang out with. They have no idea how much they made my day. I was able to hang out with other adults! Yay! Haha. Chris took the 3 of us in the brewery to check it out and then we hung out outside. I ended up using my extra token that had been sitting in my car since Big River Half and had four beers instead of the three. Kind of a mistake on my part since I had an hour drive down to the campground, but at the time, it seemed worth it. The drunk texting I regret doing was not worth it, however. Haha. We ended up staying until the next session people started to show up. I didn't want to stick around for that, so I bolted. I made a stop at Whole Foods and Starbucks on my way down and made the drive down.
Camie, Tom, me and Chris. 
I checked in and drove to my campsite which turned out to be super nice. I wanted a shower and walked up to the bath house only to find a long line and that they were pay showers. Nevermind. I walked out and right over to the pond and got right in the water. I was wearing what I'm wearing in the picture above and would have preferred to skinny dip in there, but there were a million people around. So I just said fuck it and got right in. I had to wash off the million layers of sweat I had put on during the day somehow.

I walked back to the campsite and ate the empanada I had gotten from a food truck at Foolproof then crawled in my tent for an early night.

Run4Kerri 4-mile Race, August 7, 2016

I ended up getting some great sleep, and since I was close to the race site, I didn't have to get up too early. I felt refreshed, but slightly shakey. I fired up my stove to make myself coffee and then ate some stuff I bought at Whole Foods. I felt so much better and started getting into race mindset. I left and drove the 20 minutes over to Matunuck to the middle school, getting there pretty early. I went right to the elite room to pick up my bib and leave my things. I knew a few people in there, but not too many. I talked to Dave Principe and Paige Ethier, whom I remembered from Brrr-lingame Trail Race. Most of the other women looked super serious and intimidating, so I just stuck to my part of the room while I put my shoes on and then headed out for a warm up.

I wanted to check out a post-race swim at the beach so I ran that direction. The beach looked perfect, so I continued on down the road, turning around at a point to make the warm up 3 miles at an easy 7:50/mi pace. I went back to the elite room after that. The fire alarm ended up going off, and I tried to hang out in there still, but it started to get to me, and I went outside. It was time to get serious, so I went out back, did a few strides and then tried to focus a little bit on the race ahead. I had only run one other 4-mile race, so this was going to be tough. It was super hot out. The last one I ran in 24:29 in March and thought for sure I would be able to beat that. But, that was completely flat and the weather perfect. The heat and I don't mesh, so I didn't know what to expect from today.

About 15 minutes before race start, I ran up there and spotted Aileen Cole (Cow Print Shorts from Run with the Beavers) so I hung out with her chatting and then we lined up together at the start. I wasn't expecting to finish high on the podium, but I WAS expecting to finish as the first master, so I did have some goal. The race started and off we went.

I watched 4 women get ahead of me and quickly made my way around all of the kids who had lined up at the start. I went out fast, too fast. As in WAY TOO FAST and hit 5:48 for the first mile. What was this? New Bedford all over again? It was hard not to go out fast since it's mostly a downhill for the first mile. I ended up right behind Jeff Walker and figured I was in a good spot and would try to hang with him. I actually felt good after the first mile but made an effort to slow it down a bit. I passed Scott Mason who was riding in the Smart Car. Obviously, I still felt good because I smiled for the photo.

I passed mile 2 in 5:58, and it all sucked from there. You'd think the course was flat, but oh no. It's not flat at all. I crossed mile 3 in 6:11. Ouch. At the end of mile 3, there's a steep hill that nearly took everything out of me. By the time I got to the top, I wasn't sure I could even finish the race! I was still with Jeff at the top of the hill, but I couldn't hang after that. I lost it. I was so done. Damn 4-miler. It took everything I had to finish this race. It FINALLY crested the final hill (where the start line had been) and went downhill towards the finish line. I was in a world of hurt by the time I made the turn into the school. Scott snagged a picture of me that I love. I look awkward, but I love the pain face. The constant smiling comments can be damned. I do NOT always smile. I do try hard, even when I smile. I never take it easy. And this picture shows it all.

This had to be the longest straightaway ever, and when I saw the clock, I was definitely disappointed. I knew I was going to finish slower than I did in March... when I think I was in worse shape. But it's ok. I was close enough. 6:26 for the 4th mile, though, so that was a yikes. Haha. I finished with a chip time of 24:32. 3 seconds slower. Ughh!! My pacing was terrible! But I finished what I thought was 5th woman and definitely the first master so I was psyched about that. Little did I know that Steph Reilly had been directed off course and ended up with a DNF. Being the awesome race director that he is, though, Scott Bessette gave Steph the prize money for 3rd to make up for the mistake. He did what he could to make it right, and I think that's awesome. So I ended up 4th woman and walked away with $100. No double dipping was allowed, so I wasn't acknowledged as 1st master, but the woman who was is 49 and fast and very deserving of the honor.
I also got a nice coffee mug that has replaced my NH XC Festival mug from last year.
I talked to some of the people I knew there at the finish, then headed back to the elite room to put on a shirt, then headed out for a short cool down to the beach. I thought the beach would be filled with runners jumping in the ocean, so I was surprised to find myself the only one there from the race. People were staring at me, but I didn't care. I walked right out into the ocean in my clothes. It felt SO good. And omg! An ocean I could swim in! The temperature was perfect! Not too cold like Maine and NH, just absolutely perfect. I could have stayed in for much longer, but I didn't want to miss the awards, so I headed back. I was soaking wet, but I felt refreshed. 1.9 miles for the cool down, since I stopped at the finish line to talk to Scott Mason and watch the last finishers come in. I went to my car to grab a change of clothes then got cleaned up just in time to walk out of the door to hear my name being called for 4th woman. I hung out with Michael Crutchley after I got my award. He asked if I was going to Mews after the race. I knew about it, but hadn't planned on going, but he invited me along so I changed my mind and decided to go.

We had a huge group at Mews, and I'm so glad I went. It was such a good time. George Ross and his wife were hilarious and had me in stitches the whole time. Then Rachel Flaksman from the FB beer page showed up, so I finally got to meet her. I think we were there for 3 hours or so.
Group at Mews Tavern
I had a long drive ahead of me, so I stopped at the Starbucks down the street and then made my way home. It ended up not being so bad. When I got home, I took all 3 dogs on a walk up Heavenly Hill for the sunset. And then broke out one of my take-home beers from Augtoberfest.

Despite the rough week, it ended on a high note. I had placed well at Run4Kerri, had a good time at Mews and then got home in one piece. Reflecting back, I can't say enough good things about Run4Kerri. If it works out with my weird race plans for 2017, then I'll definitely be back. It was such a great race. It had that hometown race feel that I used to love about the races I did in Athens, Ga growing up, but I loved how they brought in the elite field with it. Everyone was so nice, and I appreciate all of Scott's efforts to put this on in honor of Kerri and for the future young women in the sport. I honestly can't say enough nice things about it. Highly recommended to anyone looking for a great event for a great cause.

I don't know why I like to add songs to the end of some blog posts and not others, but I am to this one. After hearing of the tragic death of Jim Soroka last night and thinking of Kerri Bessette's short life, I feel it's a good reminder to live life while we have it. Obviously, we don't always follow through and have down times (this blog post is a case in point), but Jim definitely lived a full life and died training for an Ironman. Kerri died so young, but based on her bio on the race page, she did so much in her short life. This song doesn't quite fit since it's not really about that, but the title itself says it all,  Born to Die. We are born and then we all die. It's just a matter of when and what we do before then. We have to make the most of it. I definitely try... and fail... and try again.


  1. Nice that you donated directly to the scholarship! I've never run that race, it conflicts with my obsession with torturing my butt bones to the point of bruising for nearly 200 miles. Crutch is a good guy, glad he looped you into the after race stuff. Your August sounds like my February. Fucking suckiest month ever, if shit is going to hit the fan, it happens then. Only another week and it's over!! It is all about the dash between birth and death, make the most of it, there are bad days and good days, focus on the good as much as possible. I am going to recommend this song to a friend, sounds like it is right up his alley. Thanks!

    1. Thanks Beth! I'm glad you get it! Haha. I'll back down your way for at least one or two more races this year, so hopefully, I'll see you back running the trails.