Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Double Snowshoe Race Weekend

This was a good week mileage wise and racing wise. Although, I struggled big time in the Bradbury Squall Snowshoe Race on Sunday, I still ended the week well. 66.3 miles. Not a lot of elevation gain for this week, which was something I'd hoped to keep up over the winter, but the day I had planned to do a mountain run just didn't work out. And since conditions have been so iffy with the snow, I didn't want to hit any higher summits. The weather has been crazy! Snow, followed by rain, followed by warm temps. It's a like a cycle. I feel like we're back in the 2015 winter when we got a lot of snow early on (Nov and Dec), then just icy gross conditions most of January only to be hit with an onslaught of snowstorm after snowstorm all the way to April! We lucked out this week, though. Both snowshoe races, Moose Mountain Runaround and Bradbury, were able to go on and actually have challenging snowshoe running conditions. So all-in-all, not bad. I have a feeling more snow is coming.

I spent half of the week on snowshoes, the other half on the road or treadmill. The snowshoe running wore me out. It's pretty taxing on the body after awhile because it's so much harder than running on the road or even a dry trail. I'd like to hope it will help me with the road races I have coming up in March and April, i.e. New Bedford, the Boston Tune-Up 15K and a few more road races thrown in there before it's back to trails for a bit. I was in super shape after the snowshoe season in 2015, so I'm hoping that will go my way again. I know I'm not as fast as I was at this time in 2015, but I still hope to do well.

Monday, January 16, 2017- Another holiday I don't receive. Haha. I try to avoid Strava because it seems like everyone else lives a normal life and gets to do epic runs on Monday holidays. But, I work 2 days a week. You really can't beat that, even if it means you're just above the poverty line. I still got a run in, though! Very thankful for the really old treadmill we have at the Tamworth base. Seriously, it works and gives me the option to run during my 24 hour shift. So I got in a 5 mile run in 36:10. Actually a decent pace.

Relatively quiet day work-wise, although we had one serious call. Overdose. With the stuff opiates are now laced with, Narcan really isn't lasting long. This is just going to get worse. I don't get it, and it makes me scared for John to be living in a place where these types of drugs are so rampant. I know they're everywhere, but it's easy here for people to be "bored" and/or unemployed and/or uneducated that so many young people are trying it and then addicted.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017- This was the day I had originally planned to run up Mt Chocorua, but since I wasn't sure about conditions, I decided to do a long run from home. Well, that didn't work out either. I had planned to do a 19-mile run around that Valley that I had done last year. By mile 5, I just wasn't feeling it and decided to cut it short at 10. Granted the run I did up Bald Hill Rd, down the Kanc and home is always a difficult run. It has a lot of climbing the first 6 miles with a few downhills here and there, so it's pretty slow. I felt like I was putting in way effort to maintain the pace I usually do, so that's when I decided to bag the long run. I was still able to throw down sub-7s for miles 7, 8 and 9 which were pretty flat along the Kanc and 302. Mile 10 is a climb all the way up to the top of my neighborhood which almost 100ft over .4. So the pace for that sucked. Haha. 10.1 miles. 1:16:16, which was actually my second fastest time ever running this route, so I wasn't disappointed after I saw that. And it ended up working out that I cut it short. Since Bryan dropped John off early. I was just getting to the lights at the Kanc and 16 when I saw them go through headed towards my house. So, yikes. Had I gone on another 9 miles, it would have been another hour! Not that John can't be left alone now for that much time, but the route I was going to take would have had me pretty far away. So in the end, I was satisfied with the run I did.

Waiting for John to go to King Pine

The day was warm and sunny for once (never is on a Tuesday!) so ski day at King Pine was awesome. We skied for about 3.5 hours. John was really enjoying it since he decided to go on the terrain park. I eventually gave the easy jumps a try, and, yeah, super fun. We took a break in the middle at the bar. John got a hamburger, and I got a beer, of course.

John taking a break in "Spring" as he called it. The sun felt so nice. Didn't realize my camera lens was covered in something yet.

Trails End Pub
As I mentioned last week, John was coming down with a bad cold. Today was the worst, but he seemed to have a lot of energy to ski. As soon as we left around 4pm, though, he fell asleep and didn't wake up until 10pm! He only woke up to walk from the house to the couch.

I had planned a second run during his ninja class, but since he obviously wasn't going to make to that, I decided to just run 5 more mile in the neighborhood. My legs were junk after skiing, so it was crazy slow. 42:43. It was insane how difficult this run was for me. I was glad to get in the extra 5, but seeing it that slow made me a little nervous. #hasbeen! I did 15 minutes of Upper body and Abs when I got home. Really seeing a difference all of a sudden in my arms, back and abs. My ass is still fat and gross, but the upper body is coming along.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017- 5 miles on the treadmill before work just like always! 35:40. 7:08/mi avg pace. I was SO close to not getting up and running, but I was glad I did. I always am. Long, sedentary 24 hours. Had a middle of the night call for a lift assist that turned into an hour. Couldn't get any help after 3 tones for fire and rescue for this heavy guy stuck on the floor in an awkward spot for lifting. We just needed one more set of hands. Luckily, on the third try and a lot of difficulty, we just barely got him on the edge of a chair, 300ish lbs of deadweight because he refused to make any effort at all. I felt that in my back afterwards. Miraculously, after we got him on the chair, he was able to get himself to a standing position and walk just fine on his own with his walker. People who can help themselves even just a little bit, but refuse to, irritate me. Not to mention, he was yelling at us the whole time we were trying to get him up. He was definitely in rough shape; no doubt about that, but he could have made an effort. A Rescue guy finally showed up after we got him up and stayed with us just in case we needed more help. By the time we got back to the base, I was wide awake, and it probably took me 45 minutes to go back to sleep.

Thursday, January 19, 2017- Woke up surprisingly not tired. I guess it helped I went to bed early, so even with the overnight call, I got a decent amount of sleep. Overnight, we got about 3 inches of fresh snow, and the roads were still covered so I decided to do a snowshoe run as my long run. This would up being an ass kicker of a run. I wanted to do a loop on the snowmobile trails in Fryeburg and Brownfield, so I drove to the Maine Visitor's Center to park at the start of the Mountain Division Trail...which is a snowmobile trail in the winter. I went inside to see if they had any maps for the Burnt Meadow Snowmobile Club. The volunteers in there were two older ladies. They were very nice, but I don't think they could hear a thing. One told me to go to the Citgo to get a map of trails in Denmark, ME, and the other gave me a map for bike riding in the Fryeburg area. Haha. It looked like the teeny tiny map I had found online would have to do.

The first mile and a half on the MDT was great. Enough snowmobiles had been through that it was quick running. That was the only 1.5 miles that it would be like that. I turned off at an intersection to find the trail hadn't been touched since the day before, so I was breaking trail through about 2-3 inches of fresh snow. It wasn't too bad at first. More of a workout, but still doable...and then I hit the trail in sun. Temps were rising, and I was all of a sudden in sticky snow that immediately began forming snowballs in my cleats constantly. I was begging for some snowmobiles to come through, and then I heard it. Their sound! Yay! But, no! It didn't help at all. In fact, the trail was worse, but I kept going. I guess I just expected it to get better, but it was hard, slow running. I got to an intersection at the end of Farnsworth Rd about 5 miles in and decided to change my plan since it was so slow. I was hoping to do 15 total, and just going off where I was and one previous run on the trails there two years ago, I figured changing my route would still bring me close to 15 miles. My goal was just to get up Peary Mt. All I changed was the route. This direction took me down Farnsworth Rd which was plowed and quick running. As I approached the Peary Mt trailhead, I was stopped by an active logging operation. Of course!! This is Maine, right?! The trail up Peary from the north side was temporarily closed. Like I said, I have shit luck. The guy I talked to was super nice, though. Apologized left and right. Haha. I told him it was no problem as I knew another route up Peary from the East I thought. I continued on Farnsworth, and at 6.5 miles came across my planned route up Peary, only to find the snowmobile trail thick with unbroken snow. I don't think a snowmobile had been on it in weeks. I stopped. Debated. Decided to go for it. So I was trudging through breaking thick snow uphill. I got to the fork for Frost Mt and Peary Mt. I still don't know why I didn't just go up Frost at this point since it was closer, but I didn't. Instead, headed towards Peary. I went up, up, up, and then all of a sudden down, down, down. I started crossing many sections of trail that had melted out with brooks running across it. I kept going and got hopeful when the trail started back up again, but it was to no avail. The snowmobile bypassed Peary Mt on this side and whatever snowmobile trail normally cuts across the summit (I know it exists because I saw it two years ago), wasn't apparent. I realized I had to make a decision at this point to either turn around or continue on to where the trail crossed Haley Town Rd, take off the snowshoes and then run the 6 or so miles back to the car on pavement. I looked at the distance and realized that the pavement route would be a lot longer, and I didn't really want to carry my snowshoes for 6 miles, so I turned around. Continuing to break trail, since I couldn't follow my own path exactly. Got back to Farnsworth, crossed over and continued to break trail. By the time, I got back onto the main snowmobile trail, I had broken trail for the last 3 miles.

The only picture I took on the run. This was where I came out after 3 miles of breaking trail. Those are my snowshoe tracks.
I was happy to see a snowmobile had gone through, but the trail was still SO soft. I was also SOAKING wet from all of the snow I had kicked up. I had actually been soaking wet since mile 5! I was at the point where I just wanted it to be over, but I knew I had at least 5-6 miles to go. I headed east, crossed 113 and then followed the RR tracks for what seemed like forever. Snowmobiles had gone through, but it didn't help at all. The snow was just churned up mush. I kept seeing cars passing by up ahead at the next road crossing. They seemed so close, but I never seemed to make progress. Felt like forever.

I finally crossed 113 again and hit the bike path for what would be 4 slow miles of running on giant snowballs in my cleats that just slid out from under me as I ran. I kept kicking them off, but only a few steps later they were back. I couldn't run fast enough to keep warm at this point. The sun was super warm. Temps in the 40s, but I was soaking wet and my toes just got more and more numb as I ran. I've never been so happy to see that Visitor's Center. I only had to run past it about .1 to reach my goal of 15 miles. No idea how I calculated that one exactly in my head, but I did. Crazy when that happens. So 15 miles in 2:40:45, even though I was out there for just over 3 hours (stops to look at the map and talk to the logging guy and some snowmobilers early on).

I was thankful for the warm visitor's center where I could change. Dry socks haven't felt that good since my last thru-hike. Went right to Starbucks for a coffee and then onto the nail place to have my nails done, then home. Got in 15 minutes of upper body and abs.

Lounging with Phoenix before going out
I was so beat and nearly fell asleep on the couch, but somehow, around 8pm, I got myself up and drove to McGrath's to watch Paul Kirsch's band, Diana's Bath Salts. I had only intended to stay until 10pm or so, but I ran into people I knew, and a third beer was bought for me which meant I had to stay even LONGER so that I could drive home. Good thing I stuff my face with Reuben Skins. Of course, as soon as Pam and Mike left, I swarmed by out-of-town guys, one of which was a huge douche. Without fail. I can't go out here without getting hit on my some guy from out of town. I've had one beg me to come back to his hotel with him. Looking for a little local trash, I guess, but that's not me. Try Club 550 next time, boys. I was actually so disheartened by this that I would be hard pressed to ever go out again late night here. It was just very uncomfortable by the end. I really enjoyed the band, though, and danced some. They were REALLY good. I finally left around midnight and didn't end up getting to sleep until close to 2am. Ugh!!

My beer and Paul when they were getting ready.
Friday, January 20, 2017- I slept in really late. I had to. Procrastinated with two cups of coffee, then drove down to Sandwich to run and fill up my water jugs at the Spring. I brought Spot and Phoenix along to walk them after my run. I parked at the Spring and then ran an out to Wonalancet and back on the road. I had decided 8 miles was my magic number today and ran them pretty hard. There were a few long hills in the beginning that made for a slower pace, but the rest, I ran pretty hard. I felt good, but the whole time I was doing it, I could feel the soreness in my quads from the previous day's run. I had two snowshoe races over the weekend, so this probably should have been an easy run instead. 8 miles. 57:31. 7:06/mi avg pace.

I talked to this really nice 84 year old man at the Spring as he filled up his water jugs. He said he moved to Florida after 44 years of living in New Hampshire, but that he had come back because this is where he wanted to die. He loves it here. I kind of felt guilty for how much I don't love it here, but then I do remind myself that I do, in fact, LOVE it here. I just don't love living here, but it truly is a beautiful place when you can take away all of the stress of it. I love running in the mountains. I love my house and living in the woods where I don't need blinds or curtains. I like the peace and quiet and the ability to be alone. But I'm lacking my city fix. The stuff, the different people, progression, friends! So anyway, I've beaten the dead horse with this topic.

I filled my jugs then took Phoenix and Spot on a short walk on the Flat Mountain Pond Trail which is also a snowmobile trail, then went home.

John's friend, Dylan, came over that night and stayed with us until Sunday morning. I was happy Dylan was coming along the next morning to the snowshoe race so that John would have someone to play with for a change. I ended up in bed early due to my late night the night before.

Pre Race Beer
Saturday, January 21, 2017- Moose Mountain Runaround Snowshoe Race-

I only learned the week before that Moose Mountain had a new location which meant a new course, so I was a little nervous. I always am with a new course. This new course would be two loops starting at a farm in Milton Mills, NH. It was only about 10 minutes farther south from the old course, so the drive was about the same. With a 10am start time, we didn't have to get up that early. I love that.

Once at the race, I checked in, talked to some people I knew then went out for a 3 mile warm up. Ouch. Soreness. I was feeling Thursday's run. Not the brightest thing I've done. Jonathan Miller joined me for my last mile of the warm up. He had also done a crazy snowshoe run (far more difficult than mine) on Thursday, so we were both a little beat up. When I got back to the car, John and Dylan were having building a fort in the car. It was SO nice for John to have the company. They ended up having a really good time...spending most of it in the car. Haha.

The start with Tom Hooper, Sarah Canney and Scott Mitchell. Can you see what's missing?
I changed shoes then carried my snowshoes to the other side of the road where I put them on, then took my first steps onto the course. And wow. Thick soft mush with only snowshoe prints. Nothing was packed. I didn't go far, but I knew right away this was going to hurt and be slow! When I got back to the start, I ditched my fleece and talked to some people. I didn't even realize Brandon Newbould was there until he walked up and asked me what the course what like. I told him that it was new, and I didn't know, but that it looked soft. We all lined up. I got in a good position, so I thought. Well, it would actually be about the position I finished in, but there were quite a few guys who went out way too fast who passed me. Since it was two loops, and these were 100% legit snowshoe racing conditions, I knew right away I was taking this first loop easy. The loop was probably 2/3 single track and the rest snowmobile trail. The single track was tough. Even taking it "easy", I was dying. I stayed right behind Jonathan and Warren Angel. The three of us would end up passing about 6 of those guys who went off way too fast. I don't know what they were thinking. All I knew was that I wasn't running fast through that sloppy, thick snow. The course was also pretty hilly. They were short hills, but a short hill feels like a long one in conditions like that. It's funny because I don't usually run that smart, but since I didn't know the course, I really wanted to just get a feel for it before the second loop. But like I said, I already felt like I was dying after the first loop.

Can you spot what's missing?

Once back on the second loop, the trail was completely packed down by all of the racers who had gone through. That, coupling with now knowing the course meant a much faster second loop. I really picked it up, and when we came out of the single track onto the snowmobile trail, I passed Jonathan and Warren.. That would make 8 people I passed by mile 3. I pushed myself hard on this second loop.  At mile 3.2, I wanted to puke. Snowshoe races just bring me to that point. It helped having Jonathan and Warren there to push me along from behind since I never actually got far ahead of them. The last part of the loop is on snowmobile trail with two decent climbs before the descent to the finish. I was so done and had absolutely no kick in me at all. I heard Jonathan and Warren closing in on me. I had nothing. They both passed me about .1 from the finish. Another guy had caught back up, but I wasn't letting a third person pass me and held him off through the finish. My mileage came out to 4.3 miles, so it was probably closer to 4.5 or so. I ran the second loop about 30 seconds faster than the first which is just not some I ever do, so that was cool. Results STILL aren't posted. I stopped my watch a few seconds after the finish. 37:25. I believe I was 7th overall. Damn, getting passed back at the end. But I was first female again, which gave me another 100 points for the Series. I expect Amber to show up at some point and school me, but maybe I can squeeze another two wins. Doubtful, but maybe!

I was hurting. Haha. Notice anything missing? I didn't.
As soon as I finished, I took off my shoes then went to my car to see if I could get the boys to come out. The word "food" was enough. Haha. I decided to go ahead and change back into my road shoes since my feet were soaked from the race. I finished tying the second one, then looked up and saw it....

My race bib! Right where I left it after I checked in and came back to my car! Hahaha! So funny. I never had it on during the race. This is when it pays to have people know who you are! :) I had no idea until I saw it sitting there that I had forgotten it. Too funny.

I walked the boys over to the food and the fire, then went out on a 2-mile cool down. I had already stiffened up, and my legs were sore, especially the upper quads. I started to question my sanity at signing up for the Bradbury Squall the next day. As soon as I finished the cool down, John and Dylan were walking back to the car. Haha. Oh well, at least they were out for a few minutes.

I grabbed chili...ate two bowls in fact and talked to people while we waited for awards. The awards took forever so the crowd left was small. I can't believe that when it came time to choose my award that I picked a hat over a taproom gift cert. I just have a thing for hats. Of course, it's a little too big for my tiny head, but I still like it. I took off the New Hampshire thing when I got home. I kind of regret that, but it just didn't go well with the hat.

Bad pic of me, but whatever. I give up on trying to look good most of the time now. Haven't had my hair done in almost 6 months. Just don't care.
Instead of doing anything post-race like we usually do, we just drove home. Before they got into the games, I sent the boys with sleds to the Waldorf school behind our neighborhood to sled down the big hill. I gave them the option of taking a walk or sledding. They chose sledding. Haha. I got in a short upper body and abs workout while they were gone. That was it for the day and night, too. I was still tired and went to bed early again.

Sunday, January 22, 2017- Bradbury Squall Snowshoe Race-

Bradbury starts even later at 11am, so it was another easy morning. We dropped Dylan off at his house on our way out of town. It seems like this was the first time I've driven to a Bradbury snowshoe race when it wasn't snowing. The drive was easy! The main reason I signed up for this race was because I really missed the Trail Monster races. I used to do their summer series and this one. Then it got to where I could only make one snowshoe race and one trail race. Last year, I didn't make any. I couldn't believe it had been a year and a half since I last ran one of their races! I love this group so it was nice to see them again. It was cool because it was just the same pretty much. All of the same people were there as before!

I was really beat and sore after the previous days race and the week's runs, and I really felt it on the warm up. I ran 3 miles on the road. Kevin Tilton joined me for the last mile or so. I went down to the start with my snowshoes and saw Jeff Walker. Jeff and I made a bet that whoever beat the other had to by them a beer. I was game. I knew I wasn't going to race 100%. As we lined up, Ian and a few other guys were telling me to line up ahead of them. Haha. I kept saying that I wasn't going to do well today. I was right. I finished behind all of them including Jeff! Haha. The conditions were pretty similar to the day before combined with a few bare spots, so it was weird. But where there was snow, it was soft mush and really hard to run in. I was really glad this as just the Squall and not the Blizzard! 3 miles was long enough for me today.

I turned out to be lined up pretty well. I only passed one person, and no one passed me. I ended up pretty much right behind Jeff and Zach Wieluns the entire race. I was close behind the first half and the second, they got a good lead on me but were still visible. There was no one really close behind me that I could see after the first mile. I definitely struggled through the 3 miles. When I looked at my watch and saw we had only done 1.26 miles, I knew that this wasn't going to go well. I didn't care, though. I knew it from the start and just gave all I could. And it worked out fine. I was still 1st woman. There really wasn't much going on to write about for this one. It was pretty much the same from start to finish. Just plugging away. Finished 11th overall in 30:01. I was definitely in a world of hurt by the time I finished, so my effort was there. Full Results. Kevin Tilton would end up winning the race overall which meant the male and female winners were both from Albany, NH! Haha.

My cooldowns took forever since I took each dog separately. First Chill for a mile, then Spot and Phoenix each for a half mile. I just wanted to get over to the post race stuff. John joined me briefly...before once again going back to the car. I ended up hanging out with Jeff and Kevin during the awards. I actually passed over the Frontier gift cert for Guthrie's in Lewiston. I'm never there, but the place sounds good. I'll venture over there at some point. There weren't any pictures of the first half of the field unfortunately. Must have had something go wrong with the camera maybe? The only ones were from a trail cam which are neat, but not very good shots. Haha.

I love their creative shirts.
Jeff, Kevin and I drove to Falmouth to meet at the Dirigo Public House, only to find it didn't open until 4pm. So odd for a place like that not to be open during the day, at least on the weekends. So it was to Otto Pizza instead. John was starving. We got our drinks, and just as the waitress just finished telling me to be careful that the table was slanted on our side, John's drink went crash. Poor kid. It was because of the table slant. Just slid right off. Fortunately, it didn't cover him too bad. The beer list was only two beers so I opted for Boom Sauce and a mashed potato, bacon and chive pizza. So good. I ate the whole thing.

Kevin and Jeff with beers
On the way out, Jeff followed through on the bet and bought me a beer. I was also informed that Holy Donut was inside this place, too, so I couldn't walk out without one.

The beer Jeff bought me.
As promised, John and I went down to Spare Time in Portland to play laser tag. We ended up in a game with two guys who creamed us, me especially. It was really fun even though I screamed every time I got hit. John later told me that my hat glowed in the black light so it was easy to spot me. Haha. Dammit. From there it was a quick trip over to Bissell Brothers for 10oz of Angels with Filthy Souls; I didn't like it as much as I did last year's, but it was ok.

We went home from there. I skipped the strength training workout, but did some planks instead. Back to work the next day, along with a much-needed zero day.

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