Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Thanksgiving Week 2016

Monday, November 21, 2016- After Li'l Rhody, I had to take more days off from running to be ready for the Purity Spring Thanksgiving Trail Race on Thursday. My hamstrings and knee were feeling a little rough on Monday at work, but I still walked 3 miles on the work treadmill. It was super slow because I was kind of hurting. Starting to feel the doom of being injured for real. Not good.

Work treadmill was a little dusty. LOL.
Tuesday, November 22, 2016- Started off the morning with 45 minutes of aqua jogging at the pool. Felt ok, but my knee was hurting. I couldn't walk without limping when I got out of the pool. I chose to ignore this and took John up to the top of Crawford Notch for a hike up Mt Willard that afternoon. My knee still hurt, and I limped the whole way.

It was crazy cold, and the wind was whipping through there like crazy. Once we started the hike, we were fortunate to be out of the wind until the top. John was really excited because this was his first snow of the season. It was beautiful and the snow was fluffy. Mt Willard is probably one of the easiest hikes in the Whites so it's a good one to take John up. 3 miles round trip and only a little of 900ft of climbing. We only stayed at the viewpoint a few minutes because it was COLD and windy.

Excited to be in the snow!

He runs in snow!

Phoenix was a little cold

John decided to do some push-ups. Haha.

Caught in a walk
When we got back to the lot, the wind was SO strong and cold that we were immediately stripped of warmth. In maybe 30 yards, I went from comfortable to frozen in less than a minute. Makes me shudder to think of what Kate Matrosova must have gone through just before she died in the Presidentials 2 years ago. Scary.

We stopped for warm drinks on the way home and then later it was the usual ninja class for John. I also started back a strength training routine that I stayed consistent with... up until visiting my family for a week a month later. Haha.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016- Super quiet day at work. Took another zero day due to the knee and hamstrings, but still walked 2.2 miles behind our building. I worried about the Purity Springs race the next day and decided it was probably going to mean more pre-race ibuprofen. This was going to be my last race for 3 weeks, so I figured if I could just get through it, I could then take some time off... for real. Haha.

Thursday, November 24, 2016- Of course, we got a late call at work around 0630. Ugh. It was a quick one, though. Our patient wasn't doing well, so it was a quick load and go. We actually would have been back to the base 0700, but my partner disappeared while we were at the hospital. I had made up the stretcher, cleaned the back of the truck and restocked before he reappeared with a cup of coffee in his hand. WTF. This meant I was out late and ended up rushing home and then off to Purity Spring in Madison for the 5K trail race. I was sure to pop an ibuprofen as soon as I got home and then another 2 when I got there. I checked in then ran a 2-mile warm up, some of it with Paul Bazanchuk. My knee was hurting, but the hamstrings only felt slightly sore. I struggled to power them up the hills, but all in all, I was happy to see some improvement there. The warm up was good since the knee did start to loosen up a bit, as in less pain. I didn't know if it was from the ibuprofen or just warming it up, but whichever it was didn't matter since it meant I could race ok.

After my warm up, I took off the layers, then walked with Terry Ballou to the starting line. I knew about half of the people there since it was a local race, but I was surprised to see a lot of people I didn't know. Fortunately, none of them appeared to be much competition besides Terry and Hilary McCloy. I did talk to Paul Kirsch briefly (he and his wife, Cat, put on the race) who said the course had been extended to make it a (Suunto) GPS-accurate 5K, which meant it was definitely over a 5K. Haha. I guess that alleviates the complaints by clueless people post-race who claim that the course was short. GPS never works right in a trail race. I really didn't have a previous time on the course to compare it to anyway since the last time I ran it, it was on super soft snow in 2014. That was really fun, but slow.

Terry and I lined up together on the start line and then we were off. I went out fast like I always do. I wanted to get a good lead quickly. A large group of guys was ahead of me and 2-3 others passed me on the first climb. I had no power in the hamstrings, but they didn't hurt. I didn't even feel the knee at all. I ran the first mile pretty quickly in 6:47 and promptly passed 2 of the guys who had passed me. The second mile was hillier, and I really struggled up the one long hill. As it took a quick right, I realized a guy dressed in a turkey costume was right behind me. Oh hell no! I learned his name was Adam just by listening to people cheer him on. I had no idea who this Adam was, but he was not beating me.

First loop. Turkey suit was way too close.
I picked up the pace to pull ahead of the turkey and kept listening for cheers for "Adam" so that I would know how close he was. My main goal became "Beat the Turkey!" Haha. I kept moving fast when I could because the uphills were killing me. Still no power in the hamstrings. 2nd mile was a lot slower in 7:32. Other than the hamstring issue, I actually felt pretty good. The second loop was quick, except for the big hill again, but after seeing Adam on the the out and back, I knew I had a good lead on him. I was still worried he'd catch me at the end, though.

Second loop. Turkey suit in view! Photo by Joe Viger
I decided I really needed to run hard from here to the finish if I wanted to ensure beating the turkey suit. Mile 3 was 7:11. The last .1 (or .08 on my watch haha) was mainly just a run around the tennis courts to the finish, and this was the only moment where I had a twinge in my right hamstring like it was about to lock up. I adjusted my form instead of my pace so that I could keep running fast. Came through the finish in 21:58. 1st woman. 11th overall (and oldest in those 11 Haha). And, last but not least, I beat Turkey Suit by 18 seconds. Mission accomplished. Haha. My Garmin watch came out to 3.08 miles, and I noticed later that the people I knew who had Suunto's all had 3.1 miles. So it was pretty much GPS-accurate, even if not actually accurate. Haha. Fun race, though. I was glad I got to do it again this year. Full Results

I spent some time talking to Terry (2nd female), Hilary McCloy (3rd female), Andy Drummond and Torin Laliberte until I was too cold and needed to put some warm clothes on. Even though I wanted to join a group for a cool down, I wasn't dressed in time and went out solo for a slow 2 miles. I could feel my knee, but it didn't bother me really, and it was mainly noticeable only on the downhill.

By the time I got back and made it to the King Pine lodge, it was only about 10 minutes before the awards. I didn't eat much since it was only Big Dave's Bagels, which I don't really like, AND I was excited about the free Thanksgiving dinner at the 302 Smokehouse in Fryeburg so I didn't want to eat too much anyway. The awards were cool with a lot of different things that businesses had donated for prizes. Terry told me there were Cranmore ski passes on there, and I got really excited since it would mean I could actually take John skiing to Cranmore this year. But my excitement was short-lived when we realized that 3rd and 2nd place males and females overall got called up and were able to pick their awards before the first overall. Of course, the Cranmore passes were taken, as well as some xc ski passes. I was SO bummed. Fortunately, there was one really awesome thing left on the table when I got up there! A one-hour massage by Donna Cormier! Thank goodness! Unfortunately, for the overall winner, though, he didn't have any of the really awesome awards to choose from.

Before I left, Terry invited me to have Thanksgiving dinner with her family since I was going to be by myself. This was actually my second invitation for the day. I declined both. Although it was very kind of everyone to invite me along, I really just wanted to be alone. It's pretty depressing to be the oddball at someone else's family holiday dinner. Even when I was still married, I went to a lot of holiday parties and dinners alone, and it sucked being that odd wheel. I was actually pretty excited about my day alone. I had planned a hike with the dogs, but learned the night before that Bryan and John had taken all 3 dogs with them to Marshfield for Thanksgiving. So a solo hike was in order...until I saw the weather moving in.

As I left Purity Spring, I realized that my knee wasn't hurting at all and thought I could maybe run what was to be the hike and beat the snow. So I hurried home, changed into clean running clothes, then drove to Brownfield to run a loop up Burnt Meadow Mt/Stone Mt. I didn't beat the weather. It was already snowing before I got there. I assumed the trail would be mostly clear, which it was until I got to the top of Burnt Meadow Mt.

Light snow had moved in.

Yep. Not getting shot.
A light snow started falling, and I was shocked to find a lot of snow and ice on the backside of the mountain. Fresh powder and hidden ice underneath it on the rocks. I definitely wasn't expecting this and brought no microspikes, so it was REALLY slow going, but so fun! It was doable without microspikes, but I was sliding around most of the time down Burnt Meadow and then up and down Stone Mt.

I had to follow the blazes to see the trail up Stone Mt since the trail was mostly covered in a layer of fresh unbroken snow. It was funny getting to the top of Stone Mt since the last time I was up there, it was covered in SO many blueberries. I remember stopping to stuff my face with as many as I could, but I was in a rush to get home so that Bryan could go on a camping trip with his (unknown to me yet) girlfriend. Haha. I knew something was going on, but it was after this camping trip and 2 nights later that I knew the full truth and told him I was done. I thought of that briefly while I was up there. Remembering sacrificing my time up there to pick blueberries so he could go camping with her and then feeling guilty when I got back late and he yelled at me for it. Who was that person who let herself be treated like that?! Two years later, I was back on that mountain a much stronger woman who had no one I had to rush back for. And that felt pretty fucking good! This person, two years later, would have told him to go fuck himself. I'll be back when I damn well feel like it. Ha!

Anyway... I always get sidetracked with these stupid memories. I was starting to get cold since I was soaking wet from the snow so I had to keep moving. I made my way down Stone Mt and then continued on the orange trail since I was making a loop. I had heard that the orange trail had been messed up by logging, but I was really surprised to see just how much. Most of it for this stretch until it joined Burnt Meadow Mt Trail again was completely destroyed. Fortunately, I was able to spot distant blazes across each clear cut to meet back up with the trail, but I can see why so many people had gotten lost. It was really sad to the trail obliterated like that and having to run around stumps and fallen trees and over sticks.

Once back on the Burnt Meadow Trail, it wasn't a long run back down to the car. Total mileage is about 5 miles, but I stopped my watch and missed about a half mile. Total time out there with stops was 1:32. So very slow! Elevation gain was decent at 1,892ft. It just felt great to be able to run! My knee didn't hurt at all. In fact, this would be the run when I started to realize this injury may not be as bad as I thought. The ibuprofen would have long worn off. How is it I just ran a second run and my knee doesn't hurt?!

Back at the car, I changed into dry clothes then drove to the 302 West Smokehouse for their annual free Thanksgiving dinner. Since it was free, I wasn't expecting much, but I ended up being blown away. The spread of food was unbelievable! And it was really good!! So much food, too. Good thing I was starving. The only thing I paid for was a beer and tip. An IPA by Saco River Brewing really hit the spot with the best Thanksgiving dinner I've ever had! This might have to be my new annual Thanksgiving.

This pic doesn't even do it justice!
Even though it was a buffet, I only had one plate, one beer, dessert and then left. At this point, I was pretty tired and just wanted to go home. I decided to be super lazy the rest of the day and watch movies. The snow storm hit a little harder, so I didn't want to drive anywhere anyway. I thoroughly enjoyed my Thanksgiving alone.

Friday, November 25, 2016- Woke up to a light layer of fresh snow, our first real snowfall of the season! While I like the snow, I knew this could mean slippery roads for running. I hadn't even planned on running since I assumed I'd be crippled by the knee and hamstrings again, but I woke up to barely any pain in my knee! I don't even know, so don't ask. I decided to make a go for a longish run on the road, but I only made it a few steps past my driveway before I had to admit defeat and walk back to the house. Heading hanging. Realizing it was the start of winter for real and the treadmill would be seeing a lot more of me. Haha.

First snow at my house of the season
Changed out of my winter running attire into summer running attire and hopped on the treadmill for a progression run. The knee ached some so I ran the first 3 miles slowly and easy before beginning to pick up the pace. I wish I could see my splits on the treadmill because this would have been an interesting one. Haha. Once past the 3 miles, the knee no longer hurt, and the hamstrings were much improved. I was able to really increase the speed. Throughout the run, I kept the elevation from 1-3% like I always do and was feeling pretty good. John scared the crap out of me around mile 8 when came running down the basement stairs. He wasn't even supposed to be home yet so I didn't know who he was at first. Haha. I finished up a pretty decent 10 miles on the treadmill. 1:14:59, a 7:30/mi pace. Using a formula for elevation gain, it came out to 1,035ft. So a really decent run and much better than sliding around on slippery roads.

The snow was short lived and soon turned to pouring rain so we skipped a walk and went to the movies to see Dr Strange instead. That was fun. It had been awhile since John and I had gone to see a movie, and I love how excited he gets over them. The movie was pretty good. I was glad we went out. John must not have gotten much sleep the night before because he was out cold as soon as he lied down. I did another strength training workout before relaxing for the night with a beer.

Phoenix and me during the day

Sound asleep

My beer for the night. Good stuff given to me by Michael Crutchley
Saturday, November 26, 2016- What's that you say? Come again? Are you serious?! You've got to be fucking kidding me! I'M NOT RACING THIS WEEKEND?! Get out! Haha! It felt so strange and not just because it was a race-free weekend, but because it was the first of three race-free weekends in a row. (And in my next blog post when I catch you up on those three weeks, you'll see why I race every weekend. Haha!) I'll admit that while it felt weird, I knew that I needed it, and John needed it. It felt good to sleep in both mornings and lazily go about our days. My only issue was how was I going to cope with running back-and-forth in the neighborhood both Saturday and Sunday for these three weekends. I'd go mad! So I finally decided to test out running outside the neighborhood. I was nervous, but John had his phone and my route. I would only be doing an out-and-back for 5ish, so it wouldn't be too long. I was still concerned about the knee even though it seemed to be improving. Yes. Improving with running. Weird. But I was still nervous and erring on the side of caution so I ran the 5.2 miles at a very easy 7:37/mi pace. It hardly took any effort, but I was super excited not to be torturing myself in the neighborhood and to be feeling better all around with what I thought was an injury.

John and I took a 2-mile walk with the dogs at the Albany Town Forest that afternoon. It was nice to just walk easy, and my knee didn't hurt! John didn't complain either, so it was a good day!

I don't why I took this, but when I looked through my photos, I thought it was funny.

Candids by John

Another candid by John. I like his photos since they aren't posed.

John wanted to go to the tree lighting at Schouler Park that night and since we had time to kill, I decided to go to the Christmas Loft for the first time ever. It is SO not me, and I have NEVER been in there. No desire, but I thought John might find it fun, so we stopped in...on the busiest day ever! John said he had been there already with his dad, so it wasn't new to him, but he still wanted to go. Once inside, I couldn't help but have a good time with it. So I posed with every mannequin I could find. Here are some of my top pics. I took more, but I won't put them all here. I cracked myself up the entire time we were in there. Like literally dying laughing. It was actually a pretty cool place the way it's set up like a town, and I actually saw one thing I would buy in there. Shocking!

I'm caroling!

I couldn't help but join in. They're lucky the place didn't burst into flames when I did this.

They had a Halloween section

John was not amused by my antics.
From there we went to Frontside Grind and then over to Schouler Park for the tree lighting. That was ok. John really wanted the free cookies and hot chocolate, though, so as soon as the tree was lit, we hauled ass down the railroad tracks in the dark. I actually tripped and fell at one point. Haha. We made it near the front of the line at the theater where the cookies were. Once inside, we sat in the back, listened to the Night Before Christmas, then went right out the back for the cookies. Haha. We're terrible. :)

Waiting for it to get dark for the tree lighting

How else do you pose when you're wearing 2 hats?
Sunday, November 27, 2016- Slept in again! It was so nice. I'll admit it! And I woke up to ZERO knee pain. Yay! Had coffee, then it was off to do my new stuck-at-home run. I felt so good that I decided to run it faster than the day before. 5.2 miles at 7:02/mi pace. Yay. Here's my Strava comment on the run:

So obviously I was happy with the run. I wanted to be racing, but I was ok with it. And I really was.

After the run, I showered, then John and I had to drive Spot down to Petco in Portsmouth to get her way overdue Rabies vaccination. It's the only shot I do for the dogs, and I refused to pay for a full "wellness check" for Spot when she's 13 years old. Even with the gas $ I spent, going to Petco was cheaper.

Since we got down there earlier than their Rabies hours, we drove over to Kittery to Fort Foster to take all three dogs (and John!) on a walk. John gave me such an attitude today about taking a walk, but as always, once he realized where we were, he ended up having a great time, and I, once again, had to make him leave. Haha. We have yet to be there when the sky wasn't amazing.

I really hate leashes.




John playing on the rocks

Sun about to set behind the clouds

John pretending to shoot something

Captured some birds flying by


The only somewhat decent picture I could get of us both.
The visit to Petco was quick. They even did an exam on her. $19 for that and the vaccine. Can't beat it. And since we were in Portsmouth, I had to finally go to the Portsmouth Brewery. It was so good. Probably the best pastrami sandwich I've ever had. Their Surrender to the Flow Double IPA was also excellent. John loved his meal so much that he ate every bite. A first time ever. It was just pasta and sauce, but he loved it. So we'll definitely have to come back here soon. The drive home seemed quick, and I got in another 30 minute strength training workout.

Surrender to the Flow DIPA

Pasta and sauce
So we had a really good weekend. It was actually nice not to have it focused around a race. Just doing what others do who don't race. Haha. What's that about?! Very relaxed, yet very busy. I was happy to be still running with a knee that seemed to be healing with running. How did I get that lucky... since I have the worst luck ever? Was something finally going my way? I hoped so.

A song I haven't been able to get out of my head for over a week:

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