Wednesday, December 7, 2016

2016 L'il Rhody Runaround

Tuesday, November 15, 2016- Even though I had taken Monday off from running, my hamstrings and knee were still really bothering me on Tuesday morning. That didn't stop me from going for a run, though. I figured I would just run some trails at the Moat Mineral Site at a very slow pace, and slow it was. The second I started running both hamstrings were SO tight and sore that I had to creep along at a snail's pace. Surprisingly, though, the knee didn't bother me much, but looking back, it was probably because the pain in the hamstrings overshadowed it.

I started the run from the main trailhead instead of by the High School Loop because I didn't want to run that far. That would have added 4 miles onto my run, and I was in no shape for that. And I'm so thankful I didn't. It ended being a pretty terrible run in the end. Any time I tried to run uphill or pick up any speed, both hamstrings were in agony, and the right one nearly seized up every time. Plus, the trail was completely covered in leaves, hiding the many rocks and roots below. It started off ok as long as I ignored the pain. I ran a loop starting on the main trail and then down to Thompson Falls, then up, up, up to the top of Whitehorse Ledge. En route, I would take a huge digger. Just tripped over a hidden root and down I went. Fortunately I caught myself with left hand and my left knee just ended up getting a good scrape. It started bleeding immediately, but I had no choice other than to just let it bleed. It stung, so now, I was dealing with two bum knees and hamstrings.

Thompson Falls. Once again, not getting shot by a hunter.
I had decided on a loop run so I ran down the back side of Whitehorse and onto the Red Ridge Connector Trail. I was starting to feel the right knee a little bit more by this point, and I think that left my running super sloppy. I ended up twisting my left foot so bad that I almost went down again. This twisting is something that I've been doing constantly all year. It's not the ankle, but the middle of the foot. I just step wrong and the whole thing twists. It was pretty painful this time around, so I actually had to stop and take a breather until I could run again. The pain dissipated and I had no other foot issues the rest of the run.

I continued on to the Red Ridge Trail until I hit the Forest Service Rd and took a left to run on it briefly before turning onto the Tent Boulder Trail. By this point, I was pretty much at a jogging pace. I just wanted to be done with this run. With only about a mile to go back to my car, I took another huge digger ONTO THE SAME KNEE. Ugh! Even though, this time, I fell directly onto the knee cap. It hurt so bad, but I actually laughed as I hit the ground because I was in disbelief that I was falling onto the same knee. Ugh. I had to lie on the ground for awhile with that one. My left knee really hurt by this point and a huge contusion appeared immediately on top of my kneecap. Plus, fresh blood joined the old dried blood, and I had a cut on my other hand. Leaves and dirt were stuck in both wounds, but I had no way to clean it until I got back to the car. Haha. It was actually kind of funny because I was a complete mess! I don't think I've ever had a run where I've finished it in such bad shape. Two strained hamstrings and now two bum knees. (What's also funny is that I fell in almost this exact same place on the trail nearly 2 years ago to the day when I slipped on some ice hidden under leaves.) I'm lucky I made it back to my car. 8.4 miles at 11:12/mi pace, which is slow for that run. 1,410ft of elevation gain. The craziest part, though, is that I beat one of my own Strava course records by 1 second. How after 12 times running this particular segment, I managed to beat my course record on a disaster of a run like this, I have no idea. But it was at least the one brightside to the run!

Doesn't look that bad, but you can't see just how swollen it was by this point.
John took this. haha.
I definitely didn't feel like this was worthy of the Trail Carnage Facebook page, though, because I think you need a lot more blood and damage to post on there! The knee would end up being really swollen, even though it didn't look bad once it was all cleaned up. But just walking in my work pants the next day hurt it from the pressure.

All cleaned up, but still visibly swollen
The rest of the day meant a trip back over to the Children's Dentistry of the Lakes Region in Gilford for another appointment for John. This was probably the best experience I've ever had at this place, and it definitely changed my opinion on them. John even said he had a good experience this time when he was back there, so I guess we'll keep going to them.

It ended up POURING rain the rest of the day, so we didn't do anything else until John's ninja class. The dogs kind of got the shaft that day on exercise, even though that wasn't the original plan. Oh well. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016- My legs were just junk. There was no way I could run this morning on the treadmill, so I skipped it. I didn't even walk at work, and we had NO calls. I spent most of the day on the computer doing one of these blog posts. Haha. I almost always write every blog post on Wednesdays at work. I think I mentioned that before. The chair is comfortable, and I love having a full keyboard to type on. I'm actually really good at typing, so that makes it easier.

Someone had told me about The Roster on Strava Labs, so I took a look at that at some point during the day. I thought it was pretty neat since it gives you your top training partners either for all-time or by year and also with just those I'm following on Strava or with those I'm not following. I don't even know most of the people on the lists of people I don't follow since they're mostly pulled from races. The funny part is that my own name comes up as my top training partner for those I'm not following. I have no idea why, but I guess it's accurate in a way! Haha. I can't get a screenshot of the entire lists with the way it scrolls on the website, but it does give the first few. The first one is a graph of my runs with others since 2013.

All time top training partners of people I'm following
2016 training partners of people I'm following
Top all time training partners of those people I'm not following.
I thought that was pretty fun to look at. In reality, I rarely ever run with other people except at races, so most of these are from races.

Thursday, November 17, 2016- I don't know what possessed me to do the run I did this morning since my hamstrings were still strained and both knees were hurting. The one I fell on was hurting on the outside from the bruising, but the other one felt injured. And yet I still decided that a 10 mile mountain run sounded like a great idea. It's a loop I've done many times in the Green Hills. Started at the Thompson Road Trailhead and ran up Black Cap via the Black Cap Connector Trail, then down to Cranmore and down the service road, back to the Black Cap Connector Trail and on to my car.

It didn't start out so bad. The climb up felt ok. I had a few twinges of seizing up in the hamstrings, so I keep my stride short and my pace slow. It was my second slowest time ever up there since 2013 which is pretty bad. 1:01:16. 4.3 miles and gaining 1,842ft until the top of Black Cap. So I wasn't exaggerating on the slow part. Haha. Whatever, I didn't care. I was just happy to be out running...until half way down the Cranmore Service Rd. I was all of a sudden in SO much pain in both hamstrings, but especially the right, and my right knee was in agony. If I could have, I would have quit right there, but I sucked it up through the pain and got back down close to the trailhead. Once I exited the woods with only about .2 miles to go, I stopped. I couldn't go on anymore running. Only .2, but I couldn't do it. I HAD to stop. I couldn't believe I was fucking injured and right before L'il Rhody Runaround, too!! The one Fall race I was so excited about because I had to miss it last year...due to being injured!! ARGH!! I was pissed as I walked the rest of the way to the car. But I just kept telling myself that I was running L'il Rhody no matter what! I didn't care. It could be my last race for the year, but I was fucking doing it.

My shadow on Black Cap
I decided to forget about it for a bit. I had a free Starbucks drink so I went there after my run and then onto the nail salon to get my nails done. After sitting down in there, I couldn't even bend my right leg without pain in the knee so I was limping around. I still refused to believe it, so I just kept thinking about Sunday's race and how much I was looking forward to it.

I went home, showered then drove back out to the Moat Mountain Smokehouse with the two growlers that Kevin Tilton had given me. I owed beer to a lot of people who were going to be at L'il Rhody (since I was still racing, of course) and couldn't find anymore cans of Call it a Day IPA. The manager at the Moat told me he had just tapped the last keg of it, so my only option was to fill my growlers to bring along.

While I was there I just had to have a Square Tail Stout and a huge bowl of their awesome brussel sprouts. The place was super quiet so it was nice to be in there for once and not be surrounded by a million people and screaming kids. Yeah, I know. I have a kid, but I have ONE kid who never ran around screaming in a restaurant. And other people's kids...

I was ready to be home for the evening after that and spent most of the evening on the couch with my dog.

Friday, November 18, 2016- No way was I running this morning either, but I couldn't get into the pool at The Mill until 10am when the water aerobics class ended, so I slept in and then took my time having coffee and started cleaning my desk. I got to The Mill early and lucked out to find the water aerobics class ending 10 minutes early just as I walked in there. Yay! I did my usual 45 minute aqua jog. The knee was fine in the pool but still hurt to walk on it without limping, so I limped on a short walk of the trails behind The Mill with Spot and Phoenix before going to Tuckerman Brewing.

Tuckerman had a collaboration beer with Red Hook call the Cogwheel Porter that they were offering samples of so I wanted to try it. Unfortunately, I was only able to try half a taster since they technically weren't supposed to be serving it at the brewery. I was bummed because it was so good, but I settled on a small flight and then had two crowlers filled with the Doublehead DIPA to bring down to the Rhode Island with me...since I was still racing dammit!

I picked up eggs from the farm on Tasker Hill, too. haha.
I spent a huge portion of the evening continuing to clean my desk of horrors. I had so much junk on it that I couldn't even keep track of what was what. It just kept getting worse and worse so that I had less and less motivation to clean it! After all was said and done, I had a HUGE bag of recycles and an organized clean desk! I don't know why I didn't take a before shot!

Twizzler man that John made after a trip to the grocery store

Great beer that Steve Brightman gave me
Saturday, November 19, 2017- I got up pretty early to load up the car and have time to get a run before we went back down to Rhode Island. This would be our last trip down in 2016. Boo! Before 2016, I hadn't been to RI since 2007. This year, I made 10 trips down there! Crazy! Obviously, I love to travel and see new places, and that's what RI has been for me this year. As small of a State that it is, I still haven't hit all of it. And I would realize on this last trip down for 2016 that I actually have more friends there than I do here. Some close, some not, but still people I enjoy hanging out with. The same could be said for Massachusetts and Southern NH, but for some reason, I really like Rhode Island. Maybe because it's still new to me, but it doesn't matter why. I plan to be down there just as much in 2017 for races and definitely another day trip to Block Island.

This trip wasn't only special for being the last trip down there for the year, but it was also the last race John would have to go to for the year! Yay for him!! He needs the break. To kind of make it special for him, I decided to get a room at the nice La Quinta in Conventry since it had an indoor HEATED pool. John has been such a trooper through my racing, and he's not always keen on it, but like I said, I try to keep a balance so that we're both being taken care of.

So anyway, I decided I would jump on the treadmill for 3 miles. I was hoping it would go well, but it didn't. The hamstrings were surprisingly better, but the knee was killing me. Great. So here I am going all the way down there, and I have no idea if I'll be able to finish the race, let alone even run a step. I ran a mile very slowly then called it quits. Looked like my plan for Sunday would be to go against my belief in not taking Ibuprofen before a race and hope it helps. I was still nervous about it, though.

In the car ready for our last 2016 trip to Rhode Island
The drive down wasn't bad at all. John had forgotten to get a new library book so we made one stop at a Barnes & Noble to see if they had the Anime books he likes. And did they ever! A whole aisle of them. His eyes got huge when he saw all of his favorite books. So many to choose from that it took awhile. I realized that he hadn't been in a Barnes & Noble since the day after the 2011 Boston Marathon when he was only 5, so this was an amazing experience for him. He keeps asking to go back! I hate paying for books at a bookstore, but I think it might actually be worth it. It made me realize how much he misses out on by living where we live. Granted there are Barnes & Noble's everywhere, but we don't have that type of place here. The Valley is greatly lacking in resources for kids outside of schools and skiing.

The books he likes are called Manga.

We actually stepped out of line after I took this since he changed his mind on which volumes he wanted. Haha.
From B&N, we headed for our first planned destination: Foolproof Brewery! Of course, right? Haha. They were having their Lab Series release, and I was lucky to be meeting some people there. No being alone this time like I was at their Augtoberfest in August. Yay! The funniest part was when I walked in to see that Tony Wild and I were both randomly wearing Texas shirts. Haha.

Tony and me repping Tejas!
It was beautiful day out, so we hung out at the window table in the sun. I grabbed 2 packs of the Lab Series, a pack of the Federal Hill Ale and a pack of the Peanut Butter Raincloud, then had some drinks. John grabbed lunch from the food truck and sat with us.

Our group: Tony, Scott Mason, Rachel Flaksman, me, Chris Jasparro and Mike Radz. Sarah Chapin joined us later.
Had to include the picture John took. haha.
Before leaving Foolproof, I took the dogs up the hill to the small park there to use the bathroom and run around quickly, then we went to the hotel. What a step up this La Quinta was from the other one. Wow. It was 10x nicer than that Holiday Inn I paid double for in Hartford. It was THAT nice. The rooms were huge and had a refrigerator for all of the beer I brought to share the next day. Haha.

Nice WARM pool
We went right to the pool for John to swim until it was time for dinner at the Tiogue Tavern (fka: Doherty's Lakeside). The place was pretty much Doherty's; the beer list and part of the menu were the same, as was the glassware. I was starving by this point and fortunately the place wasn't too packed so we were in and out pretty quickly then it was back to the hotel. This hotel had the best place to walk dogs, too. A dirt road that went through a large field, so I was able to let them off-leash.

John at Tiogue Tavern

I ate the entire burger

John really liked this place.

This La Quinta was just awesome, but it's too bad we'll have to go back to staying at the other one the next time we're down for 2 races in January (no camping in January!). I can't justify the $30 extra dollars for the night.

Sunday, November 20, 2016- L'il Rhody Runaround

Finally! The race I had so looked forward to since 2015 was happening. I was still going down there to make an attempt at racing. I had no idea if I could even finish, but I would have been really upset if I hadn't tried. The race didn't start until 11am, so we had plenty of time to sleep in and then lay around until it was time to go. I grabbed coffee for myself and food for John from the Continental breakfast. I realized looking at that food that I couldn't eat any of it before the race and that there was nowhere in between the hotel and the race to get anything. I hadn't brought any food along, but I remembered my leftovers! I had a huge amount of sweet potato tots left. Those would be perfect. I ended up eating them cold since my only heating option was a microwave, and I don't use microwaves (yes, I'm weird like that). I didn't care. I was just happy to have something to eat. Haha.

I took the dogs out separately for short walks on that road through the field. My knee was definitely bothering me to the point where I had to limp. I was thankful that the hamstrings didn't seem to be bothering me at all, though. I had NO IDEA how I was going to race with my knee like that, but I did what I planned and started on the Ibuprofen as soon as I woke up. I only took one. Then when we left the hotel, I only took one more.

The drive down to Burlingame was about 45 minutes. I had planned to get there an hour beforehand, but for the second time going to a race there, I ended up in the wrong place. I had no idea I wasn't going through the main entrance, and when I did, I found a locked gate. Eek! Fortunately, an employee came out of the gate and told me he didn't know about the race, but that it was probably over at the picnic area and then he told me how to get there. We arrived a little less than an hour before the start.

As soon as I stepped out of the car, I was met with a frigid, gusting wind blowing off the pond. Man, was it cold!! It was nice to be met immediately with familiar faces when I walked into the log shelter to pick up my bib number. There were two fires going so I stood around one of those talking with a few people until I realized I needed to get ready for a warm up. When I got back to the car, I took 2 more Ibuprofen (reluctantly!) and then a beer swap ensued with Mike Crutchley and Beth Lazor-Smith. Haha. By the time we were done, I hardly had time to warm up! I grabbed Chill and ran a mile. I realized right away that I had zero knee pain, but that the hamstrings were super sore and felt like they had no power going up even the slightest of inclines. I was glad this race was generally flat!

By the time I got back to the car, I had 10 minutes until the start. John was perfectly comfortable and warm in the car. I hated stripping down into my sleeveless shirt and shorts because it was still freezing, but I had been told that once we were away from the lake, it was actually warm. It ended up being a good decision, but I was freezing as I ran up to the start. I saw Paige Ethier whom I raced against at Brrr-lingame and Run 4 Kerri so I lined up next to her and chatted for a minute. We were just behind Jeff Walker, Seth Acton and Jonny Hammett which was a good place so that we didn't get caught in the crowd. Even though the first mile-ish was on a dirt road, I noticed during the warm up that the rain from the night before had left huge mud puddles all along the way that I didn't really want to run through at the start. I needed to be in a good position to be able to avoid those.

After Jeff Walker made his pre-race announcements, the race started and everyone took off fast. It starts with a decent downhill that I was warned about. Paige took off moving way ahead of me immediately. I didn't bother following since I immediately felt some tightness in my right hamstring that slowed me down until it flattened out. A younger girl immediately came up on my right trying to hang with me, but I could tell by her breathing in just the first quarter mile that she was going way too fast. I ended up losing her quickly when I moved to the left of a puddle, forcing her either into the puddle or behind me. She chose behind, and that's where she stayed. Haha.

When we finally hit the single track, we were mostly spread out with Paige a good 50 yards in front of me and Seth Acton right behind her. I had no intentions of catching Paige at this time. I felt the pace was fast enough. I also knew she was a cross-country runner at URI, so her racing distance was typically around the 5K distance. So instead of trying to catch her, I hung back with intention of passing her around 3 miles.

So for the next 2 miles, I ran with 2 other guys, one who got right in front of me so that I couldn't see the trail ahead. I finally had to pass him. The other guy followed. The ground was a little wet from the rain, so some of the turns had to be taken more slowly, but for the most part, it stayed quick. This section was mostly flat so I kept up the pace as best I could across all of the bridges. I knew that the "hills" after mile 4 would actually be more difficult for me with the hamstring issue so I wanted to bank time. Right around mile 2.6, I noticed I was narrowing the gap between Paige and me. I still wasn't quite ready to move ahead, but Paige just all of a sudden slowed after the last bridge, and Seth Acton passed her by. That was my cue to do the same, so I did. The guy I was with followed suit. With no more bridges, I actually picked up the pace for mile 4. I ended up passing Seth at this point, and then the guy behind me passed both of us. The three of us would run close together like this until mile 7ish. I was surprised when we came off the trails for a short road section; I guess I missed that when I was looked at the course. It wasn't long, though, and it gave me a chance to peek back. I saw no one.

Once back in the woods, the hills would start. My knee never hurt me one bit during the race, but it was here that I felt the strain in the hamstrings. The hills were fortunately very short, but everyone of them was a struggle. I slowed significantly through this section. I knew Scott Mason was hiding somewhere in this section, and sure enough he was!

Shortly before we exited the woods for the last mile on the road, Seth Acton passed both me and the guy in front of me, and that's the order we would finish. The last mile on the road was pretty fast. I was watching my time and realized I'd have no problems finishing under 54 minutes, so I didn't really haul ass the last .1. I should have! After I came through the finish, I was talking to Jonny Hammett and Jeff Walker, and Jonny asked Jeff what the women's course record was. I didn't even bother looking it up since I wasn't even sure I'd finish the race today. Jeff didn't know, but he found out. The 13 year old course record is 53:31. I finished in 53:37!!!!! NOOO!! Haha. If I had known what it was, I would have beaten it, but oh well. I still finished first woman and 12th overall. With what I was dealing with in my legs, I was more than happy with it, but I'll admit that those 6 seconds stung for about a week after and now I'm planning to come back and crush it next year. :) It was such a fun race. I loved it. Thank you so much to Jeff Walker and the rest of his team for putting it on.

It was no surprise to see Mike Galoob take the win, followed by Matthew Walker, Muddy (Justin Bentley) and Steve Brightman. Jonny and Jeff were up there in the top 10 as well. Full Results

I talked to Jeff, Jonny, Paige and then Chris Jasparro after he came in until I realized I was starting to get really cold and had to go to the car. John and the dogs had steamed up the car. haha. He was excited to go down to the shelter for food, but I had to do a quick cool down with Spot and Phoenix first. My knee still didn't hurt at all, but my hamstrings were tight. Once back at the car, I changed clothes, then John and I headed down for food and the awards. I had soup while John attempted to make himself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. When I got over to him, I could see that the bread was just ripping apart as he tried to put peanut butter on it. Haha. He got it somewhat put together and stood by the fire, only to have most of it fall apart in his hands. Hahaha. I helped him make a new one, then it was back over to the fire with the Brightman's while we waited for the awards. Jonny came over and invited John and me back to his house for a post-race get together. I was floored to be invited. It's been a long time since I've been invited to something like that. Like years. I accepted of course and told him I had beer to share!

The awards were pretty quick so we made our way back to the car. Steve and Jennifer Brightman weren't coming to Jonny's so I gave them one of the Tuckerman crowlers and a few can of the Foolproof  Lab Series. Then it was off to Jonny's. And what a beautiful home and spot they live in. They don't have a huge house, but it was SO nice. A lot of windows and a great deck with a view. It was like being in the middle of nowhere. There were quite a few people I knew there. Beth Lazor-Smith, Scott Mason, Mike Crutchley, Jeff Walker and his family, Mike Galoob and his family and Seth Acton. There was another couple there I was introduced to, but I can't remember their names. I knew I liked her immediately when I told her that I had come down to RI from NH just for the race and she responded with a smile, "So you're crazy then?" Hahaha. Yes. Yes, I am. There were quite a few kids, and even though it took John awhile to join in, he finally did and had a lot of fun playing with them. I was relieved. It was a really nice time. Jonny's wife put on a delicious spread of food, and my beers were a huge hit, especially the Call it a Day IPA. All of the bottles were empty by the time we left. We stayed for awhile, but with our drive ahead, we had to hit the road. We had a great time, and it meant so much to be included.

 The drive was long, but not bad for the most part; I've gotten used to it. We stopped briefly in West Warwick to get Five Guys for John and a Starbucks coffee for me, then we only stopped once for gas after that when we hit a snowstorm in Wakefield/Ossipee. The roads were somewhat slick, but we drove completely out of it fairly quickly and made it home before 9pm. I never looked at my award until we got home and psyched to find a Block Island Sports hat. My new favorite. And some nice bluetooth headphones. Yay! Ones meant for running.

Logo from the very first L'il Rhody Runaround 25 years ago!
All-n-all, we had a really fun weekend. I was so glad I was able to race and WIN when I was genuinely not sandbagging when I thought I might DNF. It was after this race that I noticed my knee may not be as injured as I thought. I didn't have a bit of pain for the rest of the day...even after the drive home. I played it safe for a few days after and would have some pain, but then it would go away. I told people I was out with a knee injury only to find that I wasn't officially "out". The more I ran, the less pain I had in the knee. So I'm not really sure what's going on. There's zero instability in the knee, but I can feel something there, but it's as if I've possibly torn some cartilage in there that keeps drifting under the kneecap on occasion causing pain. I've heard of this happening to other people. I'm not trying to self-diagnose, even though it's hard not to. I got a referral to Orthopedics from my PCP, but time is running out. My insurance is gone on 1/1/2017. I haven't even gotten an appointment yet with Orthopedics, so there's no way I'll get an MRI in before the 1st. It really sucks, because I'm not considered a parent in 2017 as far as Federal Income Tax and the Healthcare Marketplace are concerned. Therefore, my rate and coverage (>$7000 deductible) reflect that of a single person (Never mind that I live where I live and work the low-wage job I do because I'm a parent!). I'm poor as shit, but not poor enough for the subsidy, but I can't afford the monthly premium either. I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place, but it is what it is. My point is that I may not be able to get a diagnosis for the knee. I could end up having to go the whole next year with the unknown, possibly being out from running off and on during the next year if it continues with this pain to no-pain cycle. I have no idea. All I know right now is that I'm lucky to be mostly pain-free and able to run on it. How long this lasts is anyone's guess.

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