Wednesday, November 23, 2016

2016 Manchester City Marathon- USATF-NE GP #7

Less than a week to go before the final USATF-NE Grand Prix Road Race, and I was dreading it. All I could think of was just getting the Manchester City Marathon over with. I was SO done (a month ago!), and I was kind of worried that this one stupid race could be my downfall and push me over the edge to injury. Just with some of the odd stuff that was happening, I felt like my body was done, and I had a bad feeling in my gut. I didn't even know how I was going to get through it and really tried not to think about it too much. I still read Dave Dunham's course description a few times (only to learn the day before that there had been a major course change; a change that probably ended up screwing me over for a better time), but I didn't know the roads of Manchester at all, except Elm St and the road around Derryfield Park, so I gave up on that. I just couldn't focus on it, and I wasn't feeling 100% at all. I made an attempt all week to take it easy except my traditional fast run on the rail trail, and I got A LOT of sleep. The slow season has meant less calls overnight at both bases, so that was at least a positive. I did actually feel ok by the time race day rolled around. No leg pain. No soreness. But I was still feeling the fatigue in the legs. I decided that maybe I could actually pull off a sub-3, but I wasn't holding myself to it at all. I wasn't going to be upset if I didn't get it. On a course like that, dealing with fatigue AND just not mentally into it, I knew it would be much slower than Hartford. I planned to run between 6:50-7:00 min pace for the first half. I expected the splits to be all over the place with the hills, but I was still shooting for that. And then based on what I had heard for the second half, I planned to bring it down to around 6:40-6:45 pace. "The best-laid plans of mice and men/Go oft awry." Nothing would shape out how I expected it to.

Monday, October 31, 2016- Halloween was surprisingly slow. I got a 2-mile walk in around the ambulance base. I did have to go with my ambulance partner to a fire station in Freedom to hand out candy, and that was torture. Still trying to cut weight, and I was surrounded by candy and cookies. Bad timing. I ate a few pieces of candy and one cookie, but was mostly good about minimizing it. I was happy we had a 911 in the middle of it, but it turned out to be a patient refusal, so we went back to the fire station. I stared at the bowl for another hour.

During the day, I made an appointment for Friday for a routine eye exam. After the dizzy spell the day before at the Ramble race, I thought maybe it could have something to do with my eyes. Plus, over the previous two years, during any long run, my left eye has been getting blurry. It happened at Hartford; not really bad, but enough to be noticeable. I wanted to rule out eyesight as a potential issue. I've always had good eyesight, but I'm starting to notice changes as I've aged. Normal I suppose.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016- From my Strava for today in regards to my 30 minutes of lap swimming at The Mill after I got off of work: "Last ditch effort at some sort of recovery/taper before Sunday's shit show." Haha. That actually makes me laugh now. The swim felt good, and it was nice to be in there just for tapering and not for an injury like last year.

When I got home, I found the Salomon shoes I had won from the Granite State Mountain Cup had arrived. I wasn't sure about them in my hands. Very stiff. But other than that, they seemed totally different than the Speedcross 3 shoes I won last year, which I refuse to run in.
Salomon Sense Pro 2 
Once I put them on, though, I really liked the feel and couldn't wait to get them out for a test run on Friday. The only problem I noticed was that the pocket in the tongue where you tuck the laces was actually covered up by the laces (you can see this in the pic above), which made it impossible to use the pocket. I'm thinking these were probably factory 2nds, but it didn't bother me. I just thought it pretty funny and then found another way to secure the elastic laces.

I went right to work on my trails to clear the leaves. For such a short distance, it still took me 3 hours to clear them. I never even got to the trail up Heavenly Hill, and I don't know if I will. Spot and Phoenix followed me along as I raked, and then John was dropped off when I was about 2/3 of the way through. I can't remember what we did the rest of the day except ninja class that night, but we must have done something because I don't let him sit around the house all day. Must have been errands of some kind. Haha.

Phoenix disappeared. I found her sitting in the sun. 
Since I don't normally taper, I've never had that antsy need-to-run NOW feeling until tonight when I had my first taper tantrum. It didn't help that I ate 4 of John's mini Snickers from his Halloween candy bag, especially after not really eating all day. I was sitting on the couch completely antsy. I couldn't really sit still and just wanted to go for a run. So at 11:09pm, I put on my running shoes, didn't even bother changing clothes and ran out the door. I only ran 1.1 miles. That was it. Nothing crazy. 7:17 pace. I just needed to run something or there was no way I was going to sleep. I even almost broke my own Strava title rule with something other than the course description. I called it: "I have problems". Haha. I may have problems, but I sure as hell fell asleep fine after that.
I couldn't help it! 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016
- Just like I couldn't help eating 4 Snickers bars, I couldn't help banging out a fast 5 miles on the treadmill before work. Running fast all the time, sugar and beer are my weaknesses!! Ok, and coffee and pizza and hamburgers and racing and travelling and tall, younger men and.... are, too, but back to the running. Hahaha. It had literally only been 5.5 hours since my mile run, but I still felt like I hadn't run for days, which I really hadn't. It felt great. 5 mile progression run with the usual elevation changes. 7:11/mi pace. Although it felt great at the time, after I was done, I did feel the same remorse I would feel after eating an entire pizza.

I still even got antsy at work by the afternoon and fit in a 1 mile walk on the railroad tracks before dark. I had to laugh when I looked up and saw all 5 of the mechanics from the auto repair shop next door outside together looking at me. I had a feeling I was being talked about and I actually started laughing. I'm sure I look like a weirdo walking back and forth on the tracks.

Kevin Tilton stopped by work in the morning to drop off two growlers from the Moat that he was trying to unload from his condo, but he brought more than the empty growlers! One was filled with Square Tail Stout and some other stuff was thrown in there! Thanks, Kevin!

My horoscope for the day in the Conway Daily Sun was interesting. Were they talking about Manchester?!! I doubted it, since they used the word "fun", so I just blew this one off. LIES!

Thursday, November 3, 2016- Not having a long run to do on Thursdays is tough since I have to figure out what to do with myself all day. I had at least planned my marathon week traditional run for this morning and drove over to Fryeburg as soon as I got out of work. The rain had started, but would only be a drizzle for the run. I was super nervous about this one because it would tell me whether not I was going to do ok on Sunday or not. That nervousness made me go off way too fast. I usually run the first mile around 7min pace to warm up, but not this time. 6:32 for the first mile. I was surprised because I didn't feel that fast, but I decided to see if I could keep this thing going. I actually stayed really consistent through to the other end. Mile 5 is always a bit slower than the rest since I have to run back up 302 for 0.1 miles after turning around, and then it's a gradual climb anyway. Then I bring it back down in pace from there. I couldn't believe the pace I was holding and realized that I was being kind of stupid when I hit mile 6. For the next mile, I decided to talk myself down. Rather than kill myself through 8 miles, I needed to stop at 7 and then use the last mile as an easy cool down. Three days pre-marathon, and I did not need to be running that fast. So right at mile 7, I actually stopped. Maybe I did still have a brain cell or two under that blonde hair. Haha. 7 miles. 6:35 for an average pace.

Mile 8 actually felt great, so I think it was the right thing to do. The legs needed a cool down from that and before I got in the car to drive. Exactly a mile in 8:21. Perfect. So even though I thought I was dumb for running that fast, it actually gave me hope that I might do ok on Sunday.

As soon as I got in my car, the pouring rain started and pretty much never stopped all day. It wasn't the kind of rain I really enjoy being out in, so I followed through on my plan to drive to Bedford/Manchester to pick up my (and Amy Bernard's) bib number and shirt at Millennium Running. It would save the hassle of getting it Sunday morning, and it gave me something to do on my free Thursday. And I won't lie. It was also an excuse to hit Milly's for lunch in Manchester after.

I was in and out of Millennium quickly. I brought along the $10 gift certificate I won at the NH 10-Miler and got a pair of Balega socks (my favorite) and a GU Waffle. I didn't eat after my run, so I was starving and needed something to hold me over until I got to Milly's. I stopped at park up the street to walk the dogs, but I kept it short since it was pouring rain and cold. In the meantime, Facebook had to remind me AGAIN of the sufferfest coming up. Haha.

This is what happens when you live in Albany, NEW HAMPSHIRE. 

Phoenix at the park 
Despite eating those few candy bars Monday and Tuesday, I pretty much ate next to nothing for those 3 days. Only enough to not pass out. I know, I know. So bad, but I had 3 more pounds to lose before Sunday. But I couldn't do it anymore by midday Thursday and had to get something REAL for lunch at Milly's. Milly's has actually changed its name to Stark Brewing Company, but they still use Milly's on the beer can labels. I immediately ordered a John Stark Porter and followed that up with the best sandwich I've ever had. Pulled pork, bacon and coleslaw. ERMAHGERD! I ate every bite, had 1.5 more beers (half because the keg kicked on the Blueberry Pumpkin Ale, and thank goodness it did because it was disgusting haha) and then made my way back home. I wanted to stop to see a movie, but the times didn't work out. Yeah, kind of a long drive just for that, but between the pouring rain and no long run, I really had nothing else to do.

I spent the rest of the night at home watching the season finale of my favorite show, snuggling with my dog and made sure to have a stout since it was National Stout Day!!

Friday, November 4, 2016- My final weigh-in to see if I had hit my goal. And boom. 118. I never looked at it again. I felt lighter and knew I was good to go. It had worked. 5lbs in 11 days. I had to eat like a normal person on Saturday, but I wasn't worried about it at all.

I took Spot and Phoenix on a really easy, slow run on the mountain bike trails in the Green Hills. I parked on the south end and made a loop from the quarry over to the Middle Mt Trail and then back via Pillar-to-Pond. I was excited to test drive the new trail shoes finally, and I have to say that I really liked them. Once I had a mile or so in them, they didn't feel so stiff. The grip was pretty good for what appeared to be minimal tread, and they were wider than the Speedcross which meant I didn't feel like I was going to break an ankle the whole time. So definitely impressed. I most likely wouldn't race in them ever, but regular trail running, definitely. I'm pretty attached to my La Sportiva Mutants for racing. Got in 5.7 miles in 53:21, so nothing crazy. Only 500ft of elevation gain. I didn't want to mess up my legs for Sunday and felt I did this one right.
My eye appointment was right next door at Walmart so I did some quick shopping for wood pellets then showed up 15 minutes early for the appointment like they asked me to. I guess that meant nothing because I literally waited almost 15 minutes before I was even acknowledged. I was kind of annoyed, but they were super nice and professional, so I got over that fast. I was happy to hear after the exam that, although I was far-sighted, it was only just enough to need basic reading glasses. Phew. The only thing it didn't explain was the left blurry eye during long runs. Hmm. I bought a pair of reading glasses there, and it is pretty amazing how much better I can see to read! Who knew?! Haha.
I tried to get all of my little errands run after that before John came home. I needed some stuff for the race Sunday. I was staying with Amy and Rick Bernard in Hampstead the night before, so I had to come prepared with everything I needed which included race morning food.
These are the BEST. Power bagel bars from Bagels Plus in North Conway 
John came home, and we stayed in for the rest of the day. His friend, Dylan, came over again for a sleepover so they kept each other occupied.

Saturday, November 5, 2016- I slept in a little because we had all day before we would drive down to Hampstead. I got in an easy 3.1 miles on the treadmill in 7:32. Only 1% elevation. Felt super easy, and my legs felt alright. I couldn't believe Manchester was only a day away. I didn't want to believe it because I really didn't want to run another marathon this soon! The 5 weeks between Boston and VCM seemed like the perfect amount of time to recover, but 4 weeks between Hartford and Manchester was a whole other story. This was the end of the competitive season, and I had really beaten myself up. Not only that, I didn't allow myself to recover at all the first two weeks after Hartford. And now, I was walking that fine line. I could feel it. Manchester could be the straw that breaks the camel's back, but I had to do it to complete the Grand Prix. I set out to be an Iron Runner from An Ras Mor on, and I wanted to complete that goal. And could I have completed that goal without killing myself? Yes, but HA! No way was I not going all out. I wanted to be 1st female master. I also hoped to be in the top 10 women. When you're so damn competitive, it's dangerous. "Just this last one, then I'll take a break." Sounds like an addict who fails to stay clean because that's pretty much the same thing. You know what's right in your head, but you tell yourself that it's ok to just push it a little more. And that's what I was doing. I knew it. I was taking a risk, but 2016 HAD become my year. 4 months prior, I wrote that 2016 would be a wash, but I managed to pick myself up my bootstraps and made it a really good year. I had to finish it off on a high note whether it took me down or not.
The first step on Saturday morning to get my head in the game for Manchester was a nail polish change. I know that sounds ridiculous, but the dull purple I had going on was boring. I needed something glittery and fun for Manchester, even if they were under gloves the whole time. It's just a weird mental prep thing I have. So I dragged John to the nail salon to change my polish to sparkly gold. I felt SO much better. Haha.

From there, John, the dogs and I took a walk down to the Saco on the Audubon Society trails.

He made it.
It was home from there to pack up the car and off we went towards Amy's. I even brought all 3 dogs. We stopped in Barrington at this great Italian place called Dante's for dinner. I had to go basic with the food since I didn't want to eat anything I wasn't used to, and I even ordered only water instead of a beer! That's right! Stop the press! Haha. Now, before you think I've wised up, don't be silly. I had my specific pre-race beer in the car that I would break out at Amy's. Their beer menu wasn't good enough for me for a pre-marathon beer. Haha. The food was good, though. I couldn't eat it all either so John ate about 1/3 of my spaghetti and meatballs. I ate a few pieces of his chicken fingers then watched him eat the ice cream that came with his kids meal. Why the hell don't adults get ice cream with their meal?! Haha.

When we got to Amy's, I took the dogs out in the woods and then left them in the car for the night. Amy's family has major dog allergies, so I kept the dogs away. Amy and I hung out on the couch talking for awhile. She had had a stressful week and looked really tired. She wasn't expecting much out of her race the next day (but she would end up doing way better than expected!). I broke out my pre-marathon beer while we talked. Neither of us was feeling the next day's race.

We stayed in Amy's daughter's room for the night, and I actually got a good night's sleep.

Sunday, November 6, 2016- Manchester City Marathon

I got up pretty early since I needed time to take all three dogs out, make room for Amy in the car and then have coffee. I wasn't sure if they did coffee in the morning so I brought along my cone filter and my own coffee. I heated up water on their stove and then had time to sit and enjoy it before we left. Rick and Amy's daughter came down early, too. I left John asleep since he was going to stay behind with Rick. I was trying not let the nerves get to me, but I was really nervous. I still didn't even know what to wear for the race. It was pretty cold, but the forecast only called for a light wind and partly cloudy. I decided to just put on my CMS sports bra and short sleeve and have my singlet ready. I actually decided to wear shorts for this one which is unusual for me. The funny thing is that they are supposed to be small, tight-fitting shorts. I own the same pair in mediums, and they fit that description, but over the summer, while at the Adidas outlet, I found the exact same pair in extra large. With the waistband folded over, they would be my ideal race shorts!! Comfortable, short, and loose in the butt and thighs. They were so comfortable the entire race. Never moved an inch or caused any chaffing. I can officially say I wear Extra Large. :)

Amy rode with me and the dogs, much to her chagrin since she doesn't like dogs. Phoenix didn't help by barking at her when she got in the car. Poor Amy. Haha. We got about a mile down the road when Amy realized she forgot her watch; there was no way we weren't going back for it, so we did that then made a quick stop at Dunkin Donuts for Amy to get coffee then drove into Manchester. First thing we both noticed as we were driving was that the wind seemed a bit stronger than had been predicted. The sun was out at least which was the reason I chose to park in the parking deck in the shade. I had to leave the dogs in the car, and Chill would have been too hot had it not been in the shade. This ended up being perfect, though since we were going to hang out in the hotel upstairs anyway. Amy knew about the secret bathrooms in there, so we were all set with that. Most of the teams were hanging out in the hotel, so I knew pretty much everyone in there. Haha. We actually didn't have a ton of time before the race, so I went out for a mile warm up. I literally wanted to get warm so that I could decide on what to wear. Plus, I also wanted to know what hurt. Haha. So I ran down some streets and back to make a mile and realized it was actually super warm out. I was going with just a sports bra for sure. I decided to keep the gloves on since I needed a place to put my gels. So talk about being super spoiled. How was I supposed to have my gels without the elite tables along the course?! Haha. This was seriously something I didn't even think about until a month earlier when Christin Doneski brought it up at Ellen and Tom's wedding. I knew I wouldn't be wearing anything with pockets, so I opted to put a gel in the middle of my sports bra, creating a third boob, and one in each glove. It wasn't ideal, but I had no pockets. I want my elite table, dammit. POUT. Haha.

I quickly ran my drop bag over to the drop bag area because I knew I would be freezing as soon as I finished and would need clothes. Then I ran to towards the start. I made more quick pee break in a Manchester alley because I'm classy like that, then walked to the start line. Manchester isn't a huge numbers marathon, so I knew most of the people lined up at the start. I was lined up next to Amy on my left and Dave Dunham on my right. I was ready to get this shit over with. I needed this race to be done. And, finally, we all stepped across the starting line.

The race started out fast with it being downhill. I ended up running most of the first mile with Kevin Tilton. We chatted which is usually a good thing the first couple of miles because it typically keeps me from going too fast, but it didn't help this time. 6:29 first mile. GULP. Fortunately, mile 2, even with its steep downhill, made up for that with some decent short uphills to slow me down. Kevin had moved on ahead, and I let him go. Meanwhile, I caught up with Mary Klene. As far as I could tell, the only other women ahead of us were Megan Nedlo and Kelsey Allen, so I felt a little nervous. Mary and I talked about what we were shooting for which was the same, right around 3:00. That was actually my realistic goal. I wanted to go sub-3, but I was thinking nothing less than 2:59. I was thinking this would be great to have someone to pace off of. I was happy to have Mary there, and we hit miles 2 and 3 in 6:58 and 6:59, respectively. Amy caught up to us around this time and told us we were going too slow. Haha. I felt she was probably right so I decided to pick the pace up, which, unfortunately, meant I would lose both Amy and Mary by mile 3.5. I would end up running 3rd woman from this point all the way until just past mile 24, when Julia Huffman would pass me, so it was a little bit like no man's land for the whole race. I did end up running with a guy named, Carlos, the entire first half, which helped somewhat, but after he fell back, I was really all alone the rest of the race.

I had dreaded the first half of this race because of how hilly it was supposed to be, but I found myself in a really good groove for most of it. The short dirt path around mile 8 threw me off a bit, but I was able to regain well after that. I realized that this first half was like Seasons; it was my kind of race. Hilly, but no crazy long climbs other than the climb up through Derryfield Park. Mostly rollers. The only thing that caught me off guard was when we returned onto Elm St at mile 4.5, the insane blast of a headwind. What?! That was not supposed to be there, but it was. Strong as hell every time we ran north. But there were enough turns and direction changes that it didn't really affect me in the first half. I was loving this part of the course and felt great. I was actually really happy with my splits, too. I hit the half quicker than I had originally intended, but I felt like I ran the first half really smart. I STILL think I did. I came through 13.1 in 1:28:05.

Photo by Lisa Plante 

The next 2 miles would end up killing my momentum. Not only was it a decent climb for miles 14-16, almost ALL of it was into an extremely strong headwind. I lost it right there. Between the wind and the climb, I slowed way down. I didn't feel bad, but the conditions hurt and I could never regain. I only ran 3 miles of the last half under 7:00min. I wasn't worried at first, though. I still felt good, but knew the bike path was coming up and expected to dip down back under 6:50. Little did I know that this bike path would be more like running on a trail. It was NOT what I expected. The footing was rough and the headwind was brutal. So, needless to say, I never regained my momentum here either. The worst part about it, though, was that damn blurry left eye returned just after I got in the bike path, and I couldn't see. It was SO bad. I had taken my sunglasses off because of it. I couldn't focus on the ground at all. I don't know if it had anything to do with losing my pace here, but I honestly was nearly blind in one eye. No exaggeration. I would stay nearly blinded in that eye the rest of the race. The only way I can describe it is that it was like running with a white plastic grocery bag over one eye. No lie. It actually took over 3 hours post-race to go back to normal. I still don't know the cause, but I've read that low blood pressure and/or low blood sugar could be a cause. Not worrying about it right now.

Photo by Mike Giberti 
Anyway, I was so happy to see John at mile 18ish. I gave him my glasses. I pushed along until we finally hit the end of the trail, did this odd loop around a building, then returned to the bike path for the run back. I had been catching up with Kevin Tilton this whole time and caught him around mile 20ish. I uttered something probably indecipherable. I didn't want to be passing Kevin. I knew that if I was, he was having a bad race. He would drop out shortly thereafter. Such a tough race that day. I was bummed to be back running on that bike path. Even though, we were now going away from the wind and with a slight downhill, the footing just sucked enough for me to still not be able to regain. Dave Dunham passed me by around mile 21 looking completely fresh. He gave some words of encouragement which was nice and sped off ahead. I was SO happy when we hit the pavement again. I was able to finally bring my pace back down for mile 22 to a 6:40. Unfortunately, I couldn't maintain it and the pace creeped back up over 7s over the next 2 miles. I still never felt bad per se. I just couldn't regain.

The struggle is real. Photo by Lisa Plante 
As I came down off the footbridge just before mile 24, I took a look back to see Julia Huffman closing in. I knew she was about to pass me. As I hit mile 24, it was great to see Tammie Robie and Jen Mortimer there cheering me on. I told them I was so done. Haha. We turned to climb the hill back to Elm St, and Julia passed me with ease. Dammit. It sucked to lose my 3rd place spot after 24 miles, but I just had nothing left. The turn onto Elm St was brutal. The headwind was absolutely insane. I was psyched to see John there just as we passed by the finish line, so I slapped his hand. The course was odd here, since it ran up Elm, then took a left to do an odd out-and-back on West Bridge St. We went across the bridge on one side then back up to Elm St on the other side. The one good thing about this was that I could see who else was behind me, and, fuck, if Melanie Schorr wasn't closing in fast. I really didn't think I would be able to hold her off, but the tailwind and slight downhill to the finish probably gave me that edge when I turned onto Elm. The wind was so strong that it blew me sideways at one point. John Mortimer rode by on a moped just as I neared the finish and told me I had it, that I was way ahead of her. I hoped he was right. I heard Andy Schachat announce my name so I knew I was done. 3:02:17 (clock), 3:02:13 (chip time). 4th woman. 1st master. The relief. There was no smile. Just a closing of the eyes in relief to be done. Mike Giberti captured this beautifully. He really did. It's my new favorite race photo.

The last part was 6:42/mi. 
As soon as I finished, I was really out of it. I actually started hyperventilating and had to stop and bend over to catch my breath. Kelsey Allen came over to talk for a minute. She ended up holding her 2nd place spot. Amy came through right after me surprising herself with a really good race. I really happy for her in how well she did. That was a tough race. I don't know if many of us finished in times we originally hoped for. Elevation gain was tough enough at 1,268ft, but adding in the wind and that damn rough footing on bike path made it even harder. I am not disappointed in my time at all, though. I am perfectly happy with it. On that course and on that day, it is a good time. I hit my goal as 1st master. And 4th woman for the second year in a row at the GP marathon is pretty damn awesome. I'll take it.
Full Results

Rick brought John to the finish, so Amy and I found a place on a wall to regroup. I couldn't see shit, but I was slowly starting to get my mental capacities back. Haha. John was happy as he climbed on one of the statues. I pulled my phone out to take a picture of him multiple times, but for some reason, I never got a photo. Post-marathon brain. Rick helped me get my drop bag, so I changed clothes right there using my special "dressing room" skirt method. Haha. Once I had warm clothes on, I walked over to the awards to see if I got one. I got a coaster and $20 gift certificate to the running store. I'll end up with $300 in prize money that they'll mail later.

I met back up with Amy and Rick and the kids, then we all walked back to my car to get Amy's stuff. Amy was super lame and bailed on me for post-race beer. Haha. Kevin did, too. I still didn't realize he had DNFed. So it was just John and me. I took all 3 dogs out first, then we walked to Strange Brew. John actually really liked it here, so that was a relief. Who doesn't like free popcorn? If you don't like free popcorn, then there's something wrong with you. ;) Haha. First thing was first. I needed a good dark beer. What was more perfect than a Wake Up Dead Nitro Stout by Left Hand Brewing. I also ordered some sweet potato fries that I had to force feed myself. Like I said before, I hate food after a marathon. Beer is the only thing I can stomach. But this time I had to actually drive home after so I had to have food with the beer. John got nachos and a rootbeer. I finished off lunch with one of my favorites, Foolproof's Peanut Butter Raincloud Porter.

Wake up Dead Nitro Stout 
John watching Monsters, Inc 2 behind me. Haha. 
The worst part of the day came after this... the 2 hour drive home. Driving a long distance after a marathon has to be the absolute worst, and I think it's why I ended up so sore after this one. I stopped at the market in Center Harbor to get food for work the next day and pizza for dinner. I was so stiff from driving that I was limping around the store; people were literally staring at me. Haha. Once we got home, I was starving and scarfed down the entire pizza and then broke into the Square Tail Stout growler that Kevin had given me. It was time for it! I didn't drink the whole thing, though! Haha.
Mike Giberti took some video of Manchester. I'm at 4 places in it. Roughly 6:03, 13:18, 22:07 and 36:08

I was so relieved to be done with Manchester. I could finally think about the upcoming fun races on my calendar and the much needed days off and recovery period. I was happy to see the real competitive racing come to a close, even though I really enjoyed doing the GP this year, especially with Amy Bernard and Christin Doneski. The 3 of us ended up finishing a very close 1, 2, 3 for the Iron Runners. The crazy thing is that Amy and I were only 1 second off each other's pace. We run SO close, even though we tended to have opposite races this year. If I ran well, Amy didn't. If Amy ran well, I didn't. So it's really interesting just how close we were by the end of all 7 races. My total time for all 7 races was 8:24:26, and Amy's was 8:25:18. Less than a minute off!!! Here's a link to Dave Dunham's spreadsheet with the Iron Runner stats: Iron Runners. As far as the GP standings go as a whole, I ended up 2nd for the 40-44 age group. Only 3 points behind Diana Bowser. I didn't count for the first 2 races since I was still 39 or else I would have won the 40-44 age group. But that's ok. We each actually counted for 5 races, so it ends up pretty even overall. I'm happy I was able to come in and take 2nd. 2016 Full Grand Prix Individual Results. As far as my women's team, the Central Mass Striders, we tied the BAA (Boston Athletic Association) for 5th in the Open and finished 2nd in the 40+. Not bad considering our pretty inconsistent showing as a team.

So, was Manchester the straw that broke the camel's back? Well, yes, probably. My gut feeling was right. Pretty sure I've injured my knee, but I'm working on getting a referral to orthopedics to find out for sure. If it's what I think it is, then it might not have even been caused from running but from falling down my porch steps the Monday before Manchester. Manchester probably just sealed the deal, even though I didn't even know it was an issue until after. But we'll see. It is what it is. This is the best time of year to have an injury if you're going to have one. I've still been able to run/race because it doesn't seem to be getting worse, and it actually feels better once I start moving it. I am running very minimally, though. I'm getting in the pool to aqua jog. I'm walking and hiking. I had started strength training the upper body again 3 weeks before Manchester, and now, I'm adding in the lower body. I had planned to take time to recover and cross train anyway since my body needs it. I just didn't realize I would need this much. My hamstrings have been a bit strained since Manchester, too, but I don't feel like that's serious at all. After Thanksgiving Day, I don't have anymore races until Dec 17th, so I'll take that time to heal and hopefully find out the damage done to the knee. I've never had knee problems in my life other than soreness at the end of winter from running on so much ice, but never an injury. All I know is that I'm going to find out what it is this time around. Just hoping I can get an MRI in before my insurance changes on Jan 1st. But anyway, right now, I'm doing ok with it. It's always the coming back part that's hard. I'll cross that bridge when I get to it...if I have to get to it. I'm not stressing yet. Haha.

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