Wednesday, January 18, 2017

2017 Whitaker Woods Snowshoe Scramble

Front page photo in the Conway Daily Sun 1/17/17. Photo by Jamie Gemmiti
Another interesting week running-wise. Not so much the conditions like last week, but with most runs on the slower side. A lot of that had to do with terrain and/or snowshoes. I still got in a solid 61 miles for the week. 5,854 ft of elevation gain, which is pretty decent without doing any mountain runs. I got the Whitaker Woods Snowshoe Race out of the way. I'm always nervous about that one since it's the first race of the season, and I never quite know where I am fitness-wise beforehand. But I ended up with the women's win! Woot! And the fastest time ever on the course...which isn't saying much since conditions vary from year to year, but it's still pretty neat. Kevin Tilton put together a spreadsheet of the times from the last 7 years. I only missed the first year (2011), but had some SLOW finishing times as Leslie Beckwith. Haha. WW Snowshoe Scramble Times.

Other exciting news from this week... I'm now part of Team Hoka One One New England for 2017! I can't take credit for pursuing this on my own, since it's not something I would have done. Seeking out sponsors isn't really my thing. I was told I had to give credit where credit was due so people didn't think I got this because of my speed or my photogenic qualities. I see his point since this is so damn irresistible...Haha.

No, I have Bob Jackman to thank for this one. When I heard he was on the team, I told him I was interested, so he passed my name along to Jack Pilla, the team manager. The next day, I was welcomed to the team! Pretty cool. So add the new uniform to the ever-growing collection! Haha. I'm really looking forward to trying out more of their shoes. I've owned 3 different pairs and have been training in them for over 2 years now. The models I have are on the heavy side, so I only raced in them once. Looks like I'll be racing in them almost exclusively here pretty soon. Obviously, being a part of Team Hoka One One New England means I'll be writing about Hoka on here a lot more in the future! I'm still running for the Central Mass Striders as my USATF team, but I'll have to find another way to get the CMS logo visible at races. New tattoo?

Monday, January 9, 2017- Opposite of the week before. Not a single call all day...until midnight. Then we were out for 2.5 hours. Made for a rough rest of the week trying to catch up on sleep. And it was for basically our ambulance "taxi" service. I'm amazed how some people have managed to make it as far as they have in life. The more I do this job, the more jaded and unsympathetic I become. Not good qualities to have in the long run.

I had planned a zero and would have been fine with it, but after sitting around for so long, I decided to get on the work treadmill. I did bring clothes just in case I changed my mind, so that made it easy to get on there. I'm actually liking that the treadmill won't go any higher than it does since it forces me to have an easy day. I planned 3 miles. Ran 4. 29:19. That treadmill isn't the most comfortable to run on and feels like running on a hard board, but low miles and a slower pace make it tolerable.

My dog, Coy, who died in 2011 has been coming up in my Facebook memories a lot lately. She was the best dog. Love her.
Tuesday, January 10, 2017- I also brought clothes to work for Tuesday's run. I really wanted to get out on Corridor 15 in Ossipee for a snowshoe run. Since no snowmobile trails opened last year, I've missed them. This was one of the runs I did 2 winters ago, but longer. I wanted to get in 10 miles for the day. This was a tough 10 miles, too. A lot of elevation gain on snowshoes left me junk by the time I finished. Not to mention that it was -4 degrees F when I started. It literally took 3 miles for my toes to warm up. I was thankful that I just happened to have a pair of hand warmers in my car. I picked up Corridor 15 right at the end of Gilman Valley Rd. in Tamworth. A small parking area is plowed out which makes it easy to park. Corridor 15 is right on the other side of a snow mound there, so I was on it in 30 seconds heading south to just beyond Marble Rd for an out-and-back. It climbs nearly 800ft in the first 3 miles, then has a decent descent followed by constant rollers to where I turned around. I saw the Bayle Mt trail had been packed down at some point, so I started to go up it, but it was only about 20 yards before the footing became sketchy, so I changed my mind and kept going on Corridor 15. I never saw a single snowmobile, but I wasn't expecting to with it being below zero.

Corridor 15 near Marble Rd in West Ossipee

The long downhill at the end felt great at first, but by the last mile, I was ready for it to end. I was beat. Finished with 10.1 snowshoe miles in 1:33:08. 9:10/mi avg pace and 1,407ft of elevation gain.

I was so beat that it was awhile before I got John and me out to King Pine for our weekly downhill ski day. Weather was better than last week, but still on the cold side. Not much else going on except John's ninja class and errands. 20 minutes of my upper body and abs work with Zuzka Light. Finally took the Christmas tree down that night and then I was in bed earlier than usual since I was so tired from the lack of sleep the night before.

She always misses me after my 24 hour shifts
Wednesday, January 11, 2017- As always, up at 4:30am for my treadmill run before my next 24 hour shift. Once again, almost took a zero, but got my ass up for the usual 5 mile progression run. 36:05.

I was interested to look at all of these Wednesday 5 mile treadmill runs as a whole over the last 6 months so I looked at my data since the first week of June to 1/18/17 (34 weeks), I've run this exact same run on a Wednesday morning 19 times. 10 Wednesdays were zero days, and 5 of those days were other runs. My fastest run was 34:50 on 8/3/16, and my slowest was 36:47 on 1/4/17. My average time came out to 35:52.1 which makes an average pace per mile of 7:17. Doesn't really mean anything, but it's a pretty decent pace overall for early Wednesday mornings. Each week fluctuates with how I'm feeling, but as you can see, all runs fell right around within 2 minutes of each other. Most were close to the average time. Pretty much useless data, but I just felt like looking at it. Haha.

Another work day the opposite of the week before. Very, very quiet. I had some work done on my car next door at Johnson's. I actually only wanted an oil change but asked them to check the air filter. $168 later... Haha. And then my check engine light came on the next day. WTF. Oh well. The Hamster Mobile is nearing 100,000 miles. Eek!

Thursday, January 12, 2017- Woke up to icy roads everywhere, but with temps getting above 40 later that day, I had hope for a long run on dry roads. So I decided to go home and relax for awhile before heading out. Even though I had probably slept 8 hours the night before, I still woke up dead tired and nearly fell back asleep on the couch. This has become a theme over the last 2 weeks. Not sure what's going on. Started back up with my usual Vitamin D supplement that I take in the winter, but that hasn't seemed to help. I should probably have my blood work done to see if low iron could be a culprit, but that's not something I've ever had except when I was pregnant with John. But, now that I'm back to being uninsured, I don't want to pay for a CBC. The fatigue just seems excessive and very unusual for me. Could just be that I'm having more difficulty recovering from the late night calls, but there really aren't enough of them lately to make such a difference. I don't know. Resting heart rate is higher again than usual, too, but I don't think I'm overtraining this time. I don't have any health issues and take no medications. Beats me. I'll just have to see how I continue to feel over time. Maybe I just need to increase my burger intake. Haha. ;)

As tired as I was, I have no idea why I followed through on the run I had planned around Eaton and Freedom. I've run it many times, and even on a really good day, it's kicked my ass. It's definitely one of the hardest runs I do here which is why I don't do it often. It's normally 16 miles, but when the shoulders of the road are icy, I park at The Mill at Purity Spring (where I swim), so it cuts off about .6 miles of total distance. It still felt like 16 miles, though. Actually more like 30. Haha. As soon as I started, I noticed Horseleg Hill was still covered mostly in ice. I almost turned around right then, but told myself to follow through and get the run done. I brought microspikes along just in case the dirt road section was slippery, and as soon as I hit it right around mile 1, I had to stop to put them on. The road was nothing but an ice sheet with very minimal sand, so microspikes were a must for three miles. At the top of Rice Hill/Swett Hill Roads, the pavement returned for a wonderful 8 miles of dry pavement and warmer temps. I continued on Rice Hill for 1.5 miles to the Maine State Line where I stopped briefly after hearing my phone ding from a message from John; I always stop and reply to his messages. It was just a quick question asking me where something was, and I also sent along this picture. Haha.

I'm actually standing just over the Maine line where the roads were suddenly covered in ice.
The State Line is right around 600ft, and I had just run DOWN a steep-ass, long hill that I had to turn around and run back up. 485ft in one mile. It hurts. It does. It really does. Haha. Once back at the top, there's another super steep drop down Swett Hill Rd. It's SO steep that I really can't just go all out down it. It's always covered in a lot of sand, so I have to hold back just enough to not tumble down the thing. It drops about 100ft over .3 miles. Then the run turns into a gradual descent/flat for the next 2.5 miles to Cushing Corner Rd where it climbs steadily to Watson Hill Rd, another dirt road. Watson Hill was covered in so much sand I didn't need microspikes, but it was almost like a thin mud until I stayed straight onto Burnham Rd. Burnham was a little icy, but only the last half mile of it could I really have used the microspikes. Instead of stopping to put them on, I just slowed it down a little. Didn't seem worth it for a half mile. I was finally back to where I had started, and it fortunately ends with a nice downhill for the last .8 miles back to my car. 15.4 miles in 2:09:10. Slow as hell. 8:23/mi avg pace. Splits are really all over the place with this one. 2,154 ft of elevation gain. So never an easy run. I never felt better than blah for this run so it was a struggle. Link to my Strava run for this. The last time I did this exact run was in 2015. My Strava comment says, "Felt good," and I only ran it 2.5 minutes faster. So, all in all, not bad since I didn't feel good. It's a hard run every single time no matter what.

Elevation profile gives an idea of how hard this run is
As soon as I finished, the rain started. Like within less than a minute of finishing, so I at least lucked out with that. I had no plans to leave town this Thursday, so, instead, I went to Starbucks where I cashed in my reward drink for a Venti Flat White with 5 shots. Haha. I actually stayed there to drink it then got some more wood pellets at Paris Farmers Union. The pellets are now cheaper there than Walmart AND the dude loading up my car threw in an extra bag. He wasn't sure if one of them had gotten moisture in it, so he gave me the extra bag just in case. All 3 bags are fine. Score!

I was feeling a little bored so I finally decided to go to the Oxford House Inn in Fryeburg for their Pint & A Pound. I've had a $10 gift certificate that my old boss gave me to there for over 2 years! I really had nothing else to do, so why not? The place is normally packed and reservations are recommended, but since it was just me, I sat down in the pub at the bar. And WOW, this place is awesome. I can't believe I've never been in here before. So quaint and comfortable. And not to mention, good beer on tap!! Since it's in Maine, it had Bissell Brothers Umbra and Foundation Burnside Brown, two Maine beers. And also the Moat's Call it a Day IPA, their latest beer and one of their best. I was wowed from the get-go. I had the Umbra and enjoyed talking to the bartender and the server for awhile until 5:30 hit and the place was immediately slammed. I ordered a pound of muscles with a side of sweet potato fries. So good! I was joined at the bar by two really young guys from Rhode Island who were up to snowmobile so I talked to them for awhile then left. So it ended up being a nice night out. The hype for the Oxford House is legit, and I plan to go back there for sure. I went home from there. Did 20 minutes of my upper body work, then watched Office Space. 

Bissell Brothers Umbra

Full moon over Fryeburg as I left
Friday, January 13, 2017- Super lazy getting up this morning, then drove over to the trailhead behind Walmart with plans for a short snowshoe run on the trails. My venture on the trail didn't last long before I had to turn around. So many bare-boot-bastards had destroyed that trail that it was impossible to run on, even in snowshoes. Frozen boot prints covered the trail. So I turned around and ran a super slow 6 miles on Corridor 19 instead. Phoenix and Spot joined me. It was a beautiful morning and not too cold, so the run was enjoyable. 1:01:48. With the Whitaker Woods race the next day and after Thursday's run beating me up, I needed to take it easy today. I still got in a 22 minute upper body workout that evening, but John and I did nothing else. He had already walked before his dad dropped him off in the afternoon, so we just stayed in most of the night, only going out for a quick errand to the Moat to fill a growler for Amy Bernard's birthday the next day.

John in his rain gear and slippers. 

Poor Spot. Haha.
Pre-race beer. Can't get over how good it is.
Saturday, January 14, 2017- Whitaker Woods Snowshoe Scramble

A rare local race! Yay! I was able to sleep in then take my time getting ready to go. The first race of the snowshoe season for the Granite Snowshoe Series was finally here, and while I love this race, it makes me SO nervous! The first snowshoe race always hurts, and I always dread that initial shock to the system. Plus, I expected Amber Ferreira to be there, so I knew I would have to be on top of my game. I know I can't beat her, but I don't want to finish that far back from her either. It's been a long time since I've really competed at a snowshoe race. Not saying there aren't some fast women out there that have me running scared, i.e. Abbey Wood and Sarah Canney, but it's not quite the same as trying to keep up with someone like Amber.

I got John in the car and went by Big Dave's to get John a piece of coffee cake. John fell asleep as soon as we started driving and never woke up again until it was time to leave the race hours later! I tried and tried and tried, but he was really tired. Now, I know he was coming down with a bad cold, but at the time, I was kind of frustrated that he wouldn't get up.

I purposely got there early so that we could snag a parking spot in the main lot. I didn't really want John hanging out in the car over by the school. I got one of the last spaces then walked inside. As always, it was a huge reunion. I wanted to get in a decent warm up, so I made sure I got out quickly after checking in. I ran 3 miles through North Conway at a pretty decent pace. It was really cold out, so it took awhile to warm up. By the time I got back to Whitaker, the little house was packed with people. I think it took me at least 5 minutes just to make it from the door to my stuff with all of the catching up. It was great to see everyone. The only problem is that there were so many people and so little time. I would have loved to catch up with more of them, and hopefully, I will as the season progresses. I changed shoes, ate a gel and then took my snowshoes outside. I decided to leave my fleece (the one I won at Whitaker last year) on and ditch it at the last minute. Even though the sun was warm, it was still too cold to strip down to just the nordic top. The top is perfect while racing but cold on the skin beforehand. And speaking of the nordic suit, I just couldn't bring myself to wear the bottoms. If they were black, maybe, but I'm just way too self conscious in them. I wore them last year when I was bigger and still trying to get my weight back down from the injury, so the pictures of me in it then just won't get out of my head. Bad self-image. I know. Blah blah blah. I can't help it. I don't have a great body. I just don't. So grey tights really don't do it for me. But my wicked loose Pearl Izumi tights do! Yay! Haha.

I put on my snowshoes outside and subtly looked around to check out the competition. No Amber. Sarah and Abbey were there. There were two other women who looked potentially fast, but the rest I all knew wouldn't be competition. Abbey is fast. She was 3rd at Snowshoe Nationals in 2014. I was 16th! Granted, I'm a lot faster now, but she definitely has the potential to kick my ass at any time, so I'm just waiting for it. I ran a very short .4 on the snowshoes to warm back up and use the woods then ventured over to the start line. The men's field was stacked. Nacho was there, so he was a shoe-in to win, but after that, it was going to be close for the top 10 or so. I lined up behind Jeff Litchfield and next to Jonathan Miller. It was nice to be back on the line with Jonathan. We ran really close to each other in 2015, and I always liked him there to pull me along. We would end up running this whole race really close the entire way. He was a huge help in pulling me along.

Kevin Tilton made race announcements quickly, then jumped in the pack himself before another guy started us. And we were off. The start is always the danger zone of potential falls since it's tight and people step on each other's snowshoes, but as far as I know, no one went down. I actually ended up lining up exactly where I should be. By the time we hit the woods, I was already pretty much in the position I would stay in for the duration of the race. I had a few back and forths with people, but for the most part, there wasn't much passing or getting passed going on. I was in a group the whole time with Jonathan, Kyle Northrop, Jeremiah Johnson and Mike Townsley. Sam Wood was just ahead of us the whole way. I was told the course was going to be fast today, so I was surprised to find all of the groomed sections to be soft. Not as fast as they made it seem. Definitely not fresh deep snow slow, but it was enough give to feel like a real snowshoe race for those sections. Haha.

The nice thing about this course is that I've raced it 5 times and run it many, many more prior to today's race. I know it by heart. I know that the first climb is going to hurt, but it's short, so I pushed myself up it. Probably harder than I ever have. That feeling every year of my lungs popping out of my chest was there as I turned down the next hill. Caught my breath on the flat and then proceeded up the hardest climb of the race. It's not particularly steep, but long, climbing about 140ft over a half mile. This first mile is a beast, but if you can get through it, the rest is easy. By the time we hit 1.1 miles at the top of the vista, I looked back to see no woman in sight. Only Paul Bazanchuk. That was a relief. I passed Kyle Northrop here then hauled ass down the icy single track to our next decent climb. It's another one that hurts, but it's short enough that you make it to the top just before you're all done. It was right to another icy and narrow downhill. Jonathan and I got stuck behind Mike Townsley at this point. He was reluctant to pound down the hill. It was a bit frustrating, and I asked Jonathan if he wanted to go around. He didn't make a move because the sides of the trail looked sketchy to run on, so we hung behind Mike until we came out on the double track again. I made a move and passed both of them right away; Jonathan followed suit and passed me back. This was another short uphill (and pretty much the last) that I powered up to the top of the powerlines. A long stretch of fast downhill ensued, so I fell into it and ran quickly down it. Jeremiah Johnson had passed me on the down, but he knew I was a bit better on the single track, so he let me go ahead of him for this next single track section. I chased after Jonathan through here and back out to the power lines. This is the one place where you can really see who's behind you after you make a u-turn. No women in sight. I saw Paul Bazanchuk and then Paul Hammond, who was just coming out of the woods, before I re-entered the woods on the other side. Jeremiah caught up with me here, and we ran side-by-side until he was able to move ahead. Kyle Northrop was saving something for the end and once out of the single track flew by me, Jeremiah, Jonathan and Sam. Very impressive kick. We made one last turn before coming out to the field and then as I entered the field, I immediately wanted to throw up. But then I heard someone yelling, "Go Sarah! Go Sarah!" I was like oh shit! Thinking Sarah had caught up to me, I put on a little kick, still feeling like I was going to barf. As I rounded the field and looked back, I realized that whoever was yelling for Sarah thought I was Sarah. Hahaha. Too funny! Just as I realized his mistake and felt relief, I came up on Sam Wood who was doing what I wanted to do. Throwing up! He threw up three times, and I caught up to him just as he finished. He started running again very slowly and stepped aside to let me by, but we were just about at the finishing chute. I slowed down and told Sam to go ahead, that I wasn't going to pass him. He had already lost 2 places, and I just couldn't do it. It didn't matter. I knew I had the women's win. So Sam crossed in 21st, in 30:30.2 and me, 22nd, in 30:30.8. Full Results

Photo by Joe Viger
Photo by Gianina Lindsey

Photo by Gianina Lindsey

Photo by Gianina Lindsey
As soon as I finished, I stayed at the finish area and talked to Sarah and Maureen Gillespie and my old friend, Kyla Brustin. After about 10 minutes, I was getting cold and needed to get my sweatshirt on and into the house to warm up. I was trying to get out quickly for a cool down, but I ended up chatting with a few people. Once I was finally heading out the door, the two guys I loaned my 2 other pairs of snowshoes to were right there just coming in to return them to me. Perfect timing since I was stopping at the car anyway to wake up John. Once again, a fail. I left the snowshoes and went back out for another cool down. Bad choice taking Kearsarge Rd because the shoulder was ice and the tourists were flying down it. Kind of scary. Still got in 3.1 miles at a faster pace than the warm up. So I got in a total of 10.3 miles for the day, hitting my goal of 10.

When I walked in the house from my cooldown after once again failing to wake up John, the place was jampacked and really warm. I went right to the bathroom to change into my sexy Six03 sweatpants, pullover and hippy hat. I was stylin'! Haha. Awards weren't much longer after this. Kevin was funny since he mentioned that he'd better get my name right, going back to 2015 when he announced "Leslie Beckwith" as the winner. Haha. He wasn't allowed to live that down, but in his defense, I had only officially been "Leslie O'Dell" again for 2 months, but I enjoyed poking fun at him for it. Haha. As usual, the edible awards were made by Jess Tilton and were super yummy. She also painted a cookie jar. Very cute. We also got a choice of gift certificates. I decided to be all fancy and take the $50 to the Stonehurst Manor (where I once worked for one night as server then said I was never coming back). The food is excellent, though. Not a place I would choose to go normally, but it will be nice.

Kevin giving me my award

Cookies by Jess!

I also won Best Dressed! Haha
Once the awards were over, I packed up the car and FINALLY got John to wake up. He was seriously really tired, but like I said, he was coming down with a cold; we just didn't know it yet. The post-race party for acidoticRACING and Six03 was at Tuckerman Brewing. John didn't want to go so I drove him home first. I only live a mile from Tuckerman, so I was close by. Tuckerman was fun! I got a flight of 8 that I sipped on over the next 3 hours. The pizza was from Pizza Hut, so I only ate a few pieces. That coupled with being dehydrated caused the beer to go right to my head! I probably talked to way too much to Roxanne, Liz and Cammie before it was finally time for me to head out. I needed to get home, shower and then head back out to the Moat (it was originally Flatbread or else I wouldn't have gotten the growler filled the day before haha) to meet Amy and Rick Bernard, Chris and Heather Mahoney and their friends from the lakehouse, plus all of the kids. It was Amy's 39th birthday.

Roxanne and me at Tuckerman. I look pretty awful. Haha.
I showered quickly, then John and I drove over to the Moat. They lucked out and got the front private room which is a huge score. You can actually hear what people are saying when you're in there. I got nachos like I always do and only one beer, the Square Tail Stout. Rick ended up paying for everybody's meal! That was fun...and we continued the fun at their vacation house, just down the street from me. Chris and Rick watched the Pats game while Amy, Heather and I gabbed. It was SO late by the time we left. I took the dogs out when we got home and by the time I was in bed it was 2am! Long ass day! Hmmm. Maybe I know why I'm so tired. Scratch all that stuff I wrote above. Haha.

Sunday, January 15, 2017- I slept in super late. I had to after going to bed so late. Took the dogs out then lounged around, drank two cups of coffee, worked on my previous blog post then finally decided to go running. I started with an attempted run up and down Heavenly Hill with all 3 dogs. While I did the whole thing, it was pretty terrible. The trail conditions had turned similar to the ones I ran into on Mt Roberts the previous week, and I was post-holing like crazy. Once again, it hurt like hell and I was throwing out expletives left and right. Needless to say, we only ran one of those. 1.3 miles.

I still needed to get in 8.7 more. Without even trying, I ran just past SOLO and back, stopping at my driveway at 8.7 miles. Damn, I'm good. Haha. Nothing crazy fast today. 8.7 in 1:05:35. 7:31/mi avg pace. 670ft of elevation gain. Gave me 10 for the day. Woot.

John and I took a walk around Pudding Pond with the dogs later that day. John never complained once and as usual seemed to really enjoy himself. I love those walks with him.

John running down the trail

When we got home, I cooked... yeah, I actually cooked lentil soup and had my planned Sunday beer that Chris and Heather had given me the night before. Treehouse Single Shot. Really good!

I got in another upper body and abs workout after that making 4 workouts this week. That's exactly what I'm shooting for. They're so easy to get in usually so there's really no excuse for me not to get in 4 days. Definitely seeing results. Other people may not, but I definitely do. I can do 3 pull-ups in a row now without stopping. It's super hard, especially with the weight I carry around, but I can do it. :)
Next up...3 double race weekends!! Sounds crazy, but 4 out of the 6 are short distance snowshoe races. And the other two are Old Mountain Trail 5K (the second race in the 4th Season Series) and 3 events at the Masters Indoor Track meet in Providence. I signed up for the 5000, 3000 and 1 mile. Ouch. That is going to hurt. But all in all, none of these races will really beat me up. I can do the double weekends no problem. Once mid-March rolls around, though, the longer stuff will start, and there will be no doubles. Right from snowshoe into New Bedford and beyond!

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