Wednesday, September 14, 2016

2016 Millen Mile

By Monday, I had moved on from the disaster that was the NH 10-Miler. Whatever. I screwed up. I know I'm fit. I can feel it, so I wasn't going to worry about what had happened at the 10-Miler. Bad day because of bad choices. Nothing more to it. Time to focus on the next ones. And by "next ones", that meant an upcoming weekend double! The 6th annual Millen Mile here in Conway on Friday night and the return to the Mountain Series on Sunday with the Mt Greylock Trail Race. I didn't take it easy early in the week either, so it ended up being a pretty good week mileage-wise. You'd think I would have been wanted to take it easy after the NH-10, but after a zero on Sunday, I was ready to get back at it. I ended up getting decent rest, too, so that helped.

Monday, August 29, 2016- There was no way I could take another zero day, so I actually forced myself to get up at 4am. Since I let John's dad camp in the driveway on Sunday night (so that he's there in the morning to be with John when I leave for work), I wasn't tied to the treadmill like I am on Wednesdays. It was pitch black dark and reminiscent of winter running with the headlamp, but the weather was pretty amazing. A cool-ish, quiet morning out on the roads. I decided to do an out-and-back through Cranmore Shores and then up Tasker Hill Rd past where I smashed my face in 2015 until I hit 4.5 miles on my watch and turned around. I was surprised to feel awake so early in the morning, but my legs had other ideas and felt sore and heavy. Still a decent 9 miles at 7:26/mi pace. 780 of elevation gain. Definitely not anywhere near my fastest time doing this run, but I wasn't even trying. Just wanted to get something in before my 24 hour shift.

Work was really busy. My "new" partner (I only say new because up until July, we hadn't worked together since 2011; now we're permanent Monday partners) is a shit magnet. I've always been a white cloud, hardly ever getting shit calls. It seems to be balancing out that we're not getting anything too crazy, but we are always getting the ones that need transport, while the other crew always ends up with fire alarms and sign-offs. It's pretty funny because it's so true. Luckily, after 3 back-to-back-to-back 911s early that night, it was quiet all the way until 0430, so we actually got some sleep. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016- Another rushed morning due to John having a dentist appointment over in Gilford at the Children's Dentistry of the Lakes Region, so I had brought along my running stuff to run right after work. I was opting out of the track due to the Millen Mile, so I drove from work to the Silver Lake Railroad where I parked and ran a pretty quick loop via High St, North Division Rd, Washington Hill and Rt 113. My legs were still feeling heavy, but the run ended up being ok. 8.2 miles at 7:16/mi pace. 766ft of gain. The heavy legs were starting to make me a bit nervous, so I decided to make sure the rest of the week's runs were pretty easy. 

I got home, showered and then John and I drove over to Gilford for the dentist. I have to say that this dentist's office has irked me more than enough times, and today was no different. They told me that I was half an hour late, which I would have believed had this not been the SECOND time they've told me this. I knew for a fact that I did not have the time wrong. I put it right in my calendar when I stood there making the appointment, AND the time they said it was for is a time I never would have made because John wouldn't have been home in time for us to do that. Plus, this happened to us the year before. They said we were half an hour late, but I believed them that time thinking it had to be our mistake; now, I'm not so sure. I was pissed, and I'm not usually a bitch mom like that, but I had just driven over an hour to be there; this was their mistake, not mine. I've had other issues with that place before. I love the two male dentists there, which is why we keep going; they're also the only pediatric dentists in the area. They told me they could "fit John in" for his filling so I was happy about that...until the filling fell out that night. After this round of treatment, we aren't going back there. So if you're considering this place for your kid, I honestly can't recommend them.

Blah, blah ,blah. Anyway, I was starving and stopped at Burrito Me in Laconia for some food before I passed out then we drove to a park in Meredith to take a short walk with Spot and Phoenix. 

By the time the walk was over, it was ok for John to eat something so we picked him up some food and drove home. We had a few hours to relax before ninja, so I sat outside in the great weather and had a "summer" beer. I opted for a second run with Spot and Phoenix during John's ninja class. Not sure where I got the energy from, but I think a lot of it had to do with the evening light fading fast into winter darkness and me wanting to take advantage while I could. We did the trail run loop from the gym into Redstone then up over the Outer Limits and back mostly via Corridor 19 and the powerline trail. I kept is super slow since these were just bonus miles without any other purpose. Ran 5 miles total with another 505ft of elevation gain for the day. I caught the last 20 minutes of John's ninja class then we went home. We ate dinner. I had a shower beer, then called it a night.

Stopped because I stopped.
Wednesday, August 31, 2016- Last day of August. Holy hell!! How did that happen? The only thing I cared about was that it wasn't September 1st. Being September 1st would have meant we'd have to do the monthly truck check! And I hate doing those. I was sure to get the paperwork ready for the next day's crew, though. Haha. 

Usual Wednesday treadmill run, but I kept it slow as I said I would. And kept it at 1%!! I hardly felt this run at all, and that was the point. 5 miles. 7:20/mi pace. Really just getting in some exercise before my second 24-hour shift. Ugh. 24-hours is a long shift, but when I start to whine about it, I remember that I have the other 5 days of the week off. If only this were sustainable for the long term, but it's not. The pay is just too low, so as soon as John is old enough to be left alone during some of the day, I'm going to have to get another job. The schedule works great in the meantime, and I love the actual job, but I'm going to be forced to make a big change in the near future which will probably mean moving somewhere else, as well. Plenty of jobs here in the Valley... if you like getting paid no more than $10/hour. Buttttttt...I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. In the meantime, I'll enjoy working two days a week and playing the rest.

We were busy enough, but lucked out again with getting sleep which made me feel better about the upcoming weekend. 

Thursday, September 1, 2016- Just like I opted out of the track workout, I also opted out of the long road run. It would have been a pretty dumb idea for sure with the Millen Mile the next day and Greylock 3 days later. Even though the Hartford Marathon was only 5 weeks away, I still felt like I had time to pull things together without that long road run this week. I feel like I have the distance all set, just based on the few long runs I have done. Granted it's 3 months since VCM, and I've only done maybe 2 long runs, but I've felt like more of my training really needed to be speed-based. That's where I was lacking through the Spring. I just feel like I'm ready for Hartford, and I'm not nervous AT ALL. My only goals are a sub-3, to finish top 3 master and to beat Mary-Lynn Currier. Mary-Lynn will be the most difficult to beat as far as masters go, so I'll probably end up running faster than "just a sub-3" in order to beat her. Not saying I will beat her, but she will definitely help push me to a better time. But seriously, I'll be happy with anything under 3, even if it's a 2:59:59. I'm going more for the awesome experience of being a part of "New England's Finest" since this is not something I would ever have envisioned being a part of just two years ago. I never would have believed it even if Marty McFly had come back from the future to tell me. So, for me, that's the biggest deal. I definitely want to run well and not embarrass myself, and I feel like I'm due after the heat torture of Boston and VCM, but I'm not setting myself up for disappointment with an unrealistic goal and then getting worked about it. I know I'm back and better than 100% of what I was a year ago. It took almost a year!!! But I am back and feeling good, so I'm expecting it all to fall into place. (Leslie's Blog Post 10/10/16- "Had to DNF Hartford due to an injury." Haha.)

And wow, where was I going with this? Oh yeah...Thursday, Sept 1, 2016. :) So anyway, to make up for the road run, I decided to do a fairly easy-graded long mountain run. I know! Crazy, right? Ok, it's not, believe me. Slow mountain runs are my thing, so it might as well just be a recovery run. I FINALLY decided to do Mt Isolation. All of these years, and I've just never made the commitment to it. But today, I was. View or not. The run out is 7 miles to make about 14 total. Sounds hard, but, other than the first 3 miles, the climbing is very gradual and easy on the legs. The only downside is that it's pretty technical for most of it, but that keeps it slower so that I'm not killing my legs. 

I parked at the Rocky Branch Trailhead just north of Jackson  and ran the 3.7 miles on the Rocky Branch Trail which takes you up over a ridge and then down to the Isolation Trail where it follows a mostly technical, but very gradual climb along the brook, crossing it numerous times. This part was very enjoyable, despite being wet and muddy. As the trail nears the Davis Path, it goes through a section of trail that was heavily damaged during Hurricane Irene. 100s of trees just blown at an uphill angle. You can see where the USFS had to cut through a mangled mess just to get the trail back in there. It was pretty neat, I have to say. After hitting the Davis Path, the trail continues its gradual climb for just under a mile to the top of Mt Isolation. And what a fantastic view of the southern Presidentials. They loomed so large about Mt Isolation that it was hard to believe I was over 4000ft. 

View of the Southern Presidentials

Clouds briefly left the summit of Mt Washington behind me.
I couldn't stay long at the top since I had an appointment at 2pm in Conway for the second half of my Midlife Crisis present. Hahaha. (I crack myself up every time I say that; I made it up to be funny.) At this point, I was going to be pushing it to make it back in time to shower before the appointment, so I booked it down at a quick pace. According to my GPS, I even made a new trail!

The brand new Isolation GPS Trail
Call me crazy (oh wait, people already do!), but it looked like the same trail to me, and I don't recall bushwhacking. But, hey, it was a 3/10 of a mile shortcut so I'll take it. Haha. Funny how off the GPS can be, since the total distance of the run is actually 14.4, but I only ended up with 13.7 miles by my watch. Anyway, once I had completed making the new Isolation GPS Trail, I continued down at a fairly quick pace until the last 3 miles when the trail got a lot more technical. I slowed it up a bit for this section all the way to the parking lot. The entire run, including stops took just over 3.5 hours. Elevation gain was over 3800ft, and total mileage was somewhere around 14. Haha. I quickly changed into dry clothes and booked it home. I realized I had time for a really quick shower. I was really happy, I had packed a small cooler with a recovery, not a beer...even though that's what I wanted...soooooMUCH....droolllllllll. Nope, it was just whey protein drink with almond milk that I added glutamine to. Not really food, but it was something that would keep me full enough until after my appointment at....White Mountain Tattoo! Yep, the other arm. I know some of you are cringing, and that's fine. Remember? I hated tattoos a year ago! Haha. But I have to say I LOVED my tree tattoo, and I was finally ready to do the other arm. 

It took me awhile to come up with something. I searched the internet for ideas, and then there it was! I showed it to John, and he said, "Definitely that one!" Doesn't everybody let their 10 year old pick out their tattoo? At least it's not a tattoo of Jaden Smith!
If you don't know what this is from, you're totally missing out.
So anyway, I was back in the chair next to Albie Rock in all of his glorious tattoo mastery. He took my idea and made it into his own work of art. Due to the intricate detail of this one, it took right around 2 hours, but he wanted to make each tree different and the inner circle unique, as well. I won't lie, it was definitely starting to feel pretty sore towards the end, but I would never say it was actually painful. So worth it. 

Yeah, it's definitely odd, but I wanted something with trees for this one.
Albie was pretty excited about it, and I was, too. I love it. And don't care if anyone else does or not. It's not like anyone cared about how my arm looked before I got the tattoo, so why the hell not. Haha. So my Midlife Crisis present to myself is complete. No other tattoos on the horizon. I won't say never again, but it would have to be for a good reason, like matching tramp stamps with someone I just met at a bar. Haha. Obviously, I'm kidding, but I'm making ME laugh, so...

I ran one more errand, then went home for the night. I was pretty beat by this point and just wanted to be home the rest of the night. I needed to get a good amount of sleep overnight so that I was ready for the Millen Mile on Friday. I finally had that beer...or three, watched some tv, then went to bed. 

Friday, September 2, 2016- I slept in like I usually do, had coffee, then took Spot and Phoenix on an easy 4-mile trail run in the Albany Town Forest. I just wanted to get something in for all 3 of us and still have time to kayak. I decided to check out Lovewell Pond in Fryeburg since I had never been there. It is absolutely beautiful, but it was insanely windy when I pulled into the lot. That didn't stop me since I have a sea kayak, but the couple in the canoe didn't make it very far. Haha. I paddled all the way across the pond battling a crazy headwind and ocean-like conditions. No joke! I had waves coming over my boat. I was SOAKED. But it was so fun. Made it hard to drink my beer, but I have mad beer drinking skills. Despite getting drenched, it was a lot of fun, and the paddling was tough. The paddle back took 15 minutes less than the way out! It was 4.2 miles total, so it's a decent-sized pond. I took the pictures on the way back when it was calm.

I made it home right on time for Bryan to leave John, and we hung out at the house the rest of the afternoon. I needed to rest up for the Millen Mile, and John had already taken a walk with his dad. 

I couldn't believe it was time for the Millen Mile again! I feel like I just ran it. How did a whole year pass so quickly? And how was it the 6th annual Millen Mile?! I realized after this race that I'm the only one who has done the race all 6 years. And it's crazy that I've improved every year. I watched Roger Marcoux's 2012 video of the race and was taken aback. I see that that's me, but my run is so different now! I was first woman in 2011 and 2012, second to Meg Skidmore in 2013 and second to Terry Ballou in 2014 and 2015. My times from 2011-2015: 5:48, 5:45, 5:35, 5:32, 5:31. So major improvements every year, but with ZERO track workouts. Not a bit of training. Since I finally added the track in to my regular routine, I was hoping I could finally catch Terry in this one. I wasn't so sure because track is her thing, but I was hoping I had done just enough.

I got myself all dolled up. Made hair ribbons for my hair and put on make up. Just trying to make this event fun to offset the nervousness it brings on every year. The Mile is at half time of the first home football game at Kennett High School. It's under the lights and in front of a crowd. I'm definitely not as nervous as I was the first two years, but it was still there to some degree. 
My hair ribbons that I made
John and I got there a little before 7pm and made our way down to the end of the track where we wait for the start. John walked around a bit on his own and then came over. I decided to go ahead and get a warm up in instead of standing around nervous, so I hit the Conway Rec Path for an easy 2-mile warm up. When I got back, I saw that the second quarter of the football game had just started! Ugh. That meant I warmed up too early. Everyone else was just starting their warm ups. Oh well. I would get in a few strides right before the race. My goal time for the race was really something close to 2015. I felt like I could be faster, but then I just didn't know really where I was fitness-wise. I just planned to follow Terry for as long as I could hang.

The other racers started to filter in. The women's field was smaller than usual since Meg Skidmore was injured. It was me, Terry, Hilary McCloy and Kathleen Maynard. Terry and Hilary are regulars and Kathleen was a new addition. The men's field was also small since it was missing Tim Livingston (injured), Darin Brown and a certain person who drives a blue Subaru with the Mt Goat license plate. Kevin Tilton stood us all up! Not that I would have wanted to compete against Zach Switaj either, but I think it would have been a good match between Kevin and Jim Johnson, who FINALLY showed up for his first Millen Mile ever. It was about time. Andy Drummond was there, as well as Marcelo Maiorano and Todd MacDonald. Other than Zach, we probably just looked like a bunch of old people to all of those kids in the stands, but I'd like to see those kids come out and compete with us; they'd realize we're no joke. 

The end of the quarter was nearing. We all got in a few last strides, and I was starting to feel nervous. Terry was looking serious and intimidating as always, but I decided to match her this year by wearing spikes. I trained in them all summer, so I was used to it by now. Funny, last year I made a comment on Terry's FB page during our pre-race trash talking: "Spikes=blood doping". Well, it looks like I had succumbed to the pressure. Haha. We all got together at the end of the track ready to be introduced and then quickly started.

It was finally time. We were quickly introduced, stood on the line and then Bernie started us. As planned, I let Terry take the lead, while I fell in line behind her and Hilary right behind me. 

Cool shot that John took of the entire field at the start
Terry, me and Hilary on the second lap
I really liked Terry's pace for the first lap. It felt easy and conservative, so I was surprised to come through in 79 seconds (this was the only lap I remembered the time for; I wasn't going to mess around with my watch for this one). Seemed quick, and I was surprised to see Terry all of a sudden pick up the pace. Yikes. I honestly wasn't sure I could hang on. It felt significantly faster, but I just hung on and matched her pace thinking there was NO WAY I could maintain this. But I did. I was hurting, though, and from behind it looked like Terry was taking it easy. Hilary fell back at this point. Not too far, though. Nearing the end of the second lap, Terry and I caught up with Tom, and, I only learned after the race when Terry told me, Terry pulled a little race strategy on me. She waited just a little bit to pass Tom and then hung in the outer lane just before we crossed for lap 2. I was right behind her in the outer lane which meant I was stuck out there at the start of the turn. I laughed later when she told me she did that on purpose and was hoping I would stay behind Tom for that point, but I didn't. I actually quickened my pace just long enough to get around Tom and probably almost cut him off. I wasn't letting Terry get any sort of lead on me yet. Third lap continued much like the second. I stayed right on Terry's heels and felt like I was going to lose it at any second. I have to say that after two years of running behind Terry at this race, I had learned how she ran the last lap. I've always been able to match her through 200m until she puts on this crazy kick and leaves me in the dust. I was ready for it in 2015 and didn't let her get as much of a gap on me, so we only finished a second apart. This time was exactly the same, and I was even more ready for it. She picked up the pace for the first 200m and then right at that line, I could feel her start to pull away. My initial thought was, "There she goes," but then I immediately got some sort of crazy kick that I've never had in my life just as we passed the next 100. As we came around the bend with 100 meters to go, I realized that I was hanging on, and then all of a sudden, it seemed like Terry slowed, and I just gave everything I had. I could see that I was about to be dead even with her, and then just like that, steps before the finish line, I pulled a step ahead to WIN! It was amazing. And not only did I win, but both Terry and I had beaten her previous course record of 5:27.8 from 2014 by over a second. 5:26.1 for me and 5:26.4 for Terry. It was just an amazing finish. The only time I've ever beaten anyone like that was at the Bretton Woods Winter Wild when I caught Bridget Ferrin-Smith just steps before the line after nearly destroying myself on the downhill to catch her. But that was on snow. This was totally different. I've never had a kick in my life, but something was there tonight, and I pulled it off. I couldn't believe it.

The awards ceremony was quick. Zach Switaj had also broken the men's course record in 4:23. We both needed the redemption after the NH 10-Miler since he had had a pretty bad race, too. To go from that place of defeat just 6 days prior to this sweet (although small) victory was a boost we both needed for the upcoming big races. We did the awards quickly since halftime was about to end. We all socialized briefly. I was starving by this point and wanted to get to the thai place before it closed, so I skipped the cool down. John was ready to leave, too. 

I walked out of there with a new sense of where I was fitness-wise. I was back. And I was faster. And I was ready for Greylock. I may have a bad race here and there, but that's par for the course. At this level, we ALL have bad races. I took what I learned from the 10-Miler and moved on. And here I was on this super high from the Millen Mile. This podunk little race, I know, but it was what I needed at that moment. Hoping to continue in that general direction as much as I can.

Jamie Gemmiti captured a great shot for the front of Wednesday's local paper. Pretty awesome.

Everyone who raced

My third bowl win and a Stoneface Porter to celebrate
Here's a link to the Conway Daily Sun about the race. There are A LOT of errors that make me cringe, but they are minor for the most part. I didn't win the 2010 Millen Mile because it didn't exist then. And Terry's course record was from 2014 not 2015. There are others, but those are the only significant ones.

And if you feel like watching the race unfold, Roger Marcoux took a video of it that you can see here:

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