Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Unplanned Race-Free Week

View from the Tuckerman Ravine Trail on Thursday
Hard to believe this was my first race-free week since December! It was so needed, but it wasn't planned. I had been dreading the Frank Nealon Boston Tune-Up 15K since New Bedford. With my hamstring/glute issue, I knew this race would be a disaster. I literally have no speed because of it. And it wasn't just the disaster I was worried about; it was the actual racing, pushing myself and making it worse. Also, for weeks prior to New Bedford and the week after, my resting heart rate had shot back up to near 60, and I was insanely tired every day! As I noticed in the Fall, when I'm feeling "over-trained" and fatigued, my resting heart rate barely goes below 60, when it's normally around 47. That was just another reason I needed to be taking it easy after New Bedford. Other than Brrr-lingame, I did just that. I was still running, but nothing fast, and I ran pretty low miles, too. I felt like the 15K would set me back because I would definitely go all out when what I really needed to be doing was just slow recovery and steep uphill runs. These caused me little pain or discomfort in the hamstring/glutes. The build up of dread all week left me a little on edge, and then it happened...the race was first removed from the USATF-NE Grand Prix and then ultimately cancelled due to the blizzard that came in on Friday and Saturday. I felt bad hoping it would get cancelled since I know putting on a race like that takes so much work. I'm sure the disappointment for the race director and crew is huge, but I selfishly was relieved and ecstatic. That was followed 30 minutes later with me freaking out on what I was going to do all weekend, and I started getting antsy at the thought of it. Yes, I  have a problem! Haha. But I stayed to true to myself and didn't consider a replacement race like I would normally do. I needed to recover! And, fortunately, as of this writing, my fatigue has disappeared (except the days after we had some late night 911s), and my resting heart rate is back to the high 40s. My hamstring/glute thing is still there, but the pain has lessened. I'm so glad I'm not worrying about that marathon and can just take most of April easy. I'm not sure how these low mileage weeks are going to affect my 50-miler, but it's what I have to do to be able to even complete it. And completing it is what's most important to me this time around.

As for the hamstring/glute pain, my suspicion is still High Hamstring Tendonitis. Although the symptoms are very similar to Piriformis Syndrome, it doesn't quite match up with that. Sarah Canney has been having the same glute issue since the same snowshoe race when mine started. We talked about it a few weeks ago. I just read her latest blog post yesterday where she mentioned she has previously been diagnosed with High Hamstring Tendonitis and found it was relieved from trail and mountain running. Good to know since my pain has very much decreased with this type of running, as well. Also makes me think my "self-diagnosis" might be accurate, as well. Obviously, I won't know for sure what this is since I can't get it officially diagnosed, but I feel like I'm doing the right things (for the most part) to make it better. I've read that dry needling is helpful with this, but I can't find a place locally that will let me pay cash; they only accept insurance. Wtf. So if anybody reading this knows of a good place for dry needling that's affordable for uninsured scum like myself, leave it in the comment section. I'm willing to travel outside of New Hampshire, if need be.

Monday, March 27, 2017- I think I said in my last post that the work treadmill is causing me pain when I run on it, so I've decided to stop running on it every Monday. It's only meant for walking anyway, and that doesn't bother me. Got in a 2 mile walk on it during the middle of the day. It really helps cut down on the pain from sitting all day long. I wish I had a treadmill at the North Conway base, but I'll be able to walk outside again soon.

Our day was long with only one cancelled call, but right at 0454 the next morning we ended up on 3 calls in a row, causing me to get out an hour late. That first call woke me right out of a pretty cool dream. I was with John, but he was probably 18 or 19 years old, and I think we were in the mountains in Europe and it was getting late in the day. I said something about needing to get our hike in before it got dark, and grown-up John responded, "No. We both need to get in a mountain run." Ahh! Woke up to the tone drop right after that. What a great dream. Haha. Maybe some day it will be real!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017- I had planned to run the UNH Trail this morning straight from work, but getting out an hour late messed that up. No time. The closer stuff would be way too soft to run on with any joy, so I decided to just stop at Chocorua Lake on my way home and run the "dirt" (more like ice/snow) roads from there. Microspikes were a necessity for this one, as the road was slippery packed snow, with ice in some spots. My hamstrings/glutes hurt quite a bit on this run, so I ran it super duper slow. Probably should have just done a shorter 7-8 mile loop, but I did the full out-and-back from Rt 16 to 113A for 10 miles. 1:18:33. Not a horrible pace for this run, but not great either. I didn't care. I was just happy to be running.

I came home to a box with these in it!! Yay! I was really hoping my Hoka One One Tracer's would arrive prior to the 15K so that I could race in them (obviously didn't happen, but I didn't know this yet). I didn't give a color preference, but as I opened the box, I said over and over to myself, "Please don't be pink. Please don't be pink..." Haha. They weren't! Phew! I hate pink shoes.

I tried them on, and they felt pretty good, very comfortable. The toe box is a little narrower than I'd like, but a test run would decide whether that's a problem or not. Very lightweight shoe, but one thing I'm noticing about Hoka's in general is their stiffness. I've been wearing Brooks for my road shoes for 5 years now, and I've really liked the flexibility of their shoes. Meaning, I can take a brand new, never worn shoe and bend the toe back towards the heel easily. That's kind of been my thing, even for my trail shoes. I'm not seeing this with the Hoka's. Not saying it's a problem yet, but it's something new to me, and I can definitely feel it when I'm running in them. Time will tell. I'm still continuing to wear Brooks along with the Hoka's and my La Sportiva's on the technical stuff.

John came home pretty sick with a chest cold. We had to make a special trip to Walgreen's just to get him cough drops. While we were out, we took a short walk on the Conway Rec Path in the rain with all 3 dogs. John coughed the whole walk, but seemed to have some energy to play with the dogs.

I did my upper body and ab workout after we got home. Spot cracked us up when we heard a loud thud hit the door. I looked over to see an embarrassed Spot who had underestimated the softness of the snow hill on the deck. She fell right into the door. Haha.

I felt bad making John go to ninja class later. I didn't realize how bad he felt until after we got there. He ended up in tears 30 minutes into the class, so we had to leave. His coughing was crazy so I actually broke down and went back to Walgreen's to get him some cough suppressant. I'll rarely take this stuff myself since I think it's really bad for you, but there's a point where you have to realize its benefit outweighs the cost. He was miserable. It took me like 20 minutes to go through this insane amount of children's cold medicine. Crazy to see how many different kinds. I wanted the most benign behind guaifenesin. Found something. He took one dose. By the time we got home, his cough was mostly gone and he was able to go right to sleep. I was in the middle of making him dinner when he fell asleep and had no idea. Brought him his food, and he was out cold. Luckily, he only needed one more dose of the medicine the next morning and not again.

My beer for the day
By the way, I was back to beer again, if that wasn't apparent before. Haha. After 4 days of not having any the week prior, I had gained 2 more pounds. I cut out beer and sugar. Gained two pounds. I still think it's just my usual March weight gain, and I'll lose it as soon as it warms up. That's my excuse anyway. Haha.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017- I reluctantly decided to run on the treadmill this morning, but I only kept it to 3 miles in 21:55. Just getting something in. I didn't really need to, but it's hard going into another 24 without running beforehand. I didn't regret it since we would do nearly nothing all day for calls.

I was super excited to have my old partner, Michelle, back for the day, though. My regular partner took the shift off, so Michelle picked it up. We always worked well as a crew and got a long well as friends. My current partner isn't quite the same. We did get a late night call that took me forever to go back to sleep after, as it always does. Woke up the next morning feeling like a train wreck.

Thursday, March 30, 2017- Finally!! A gorgeous day!! And it was my day free! Yay! I went home from work and could not figure out what to do for a run. I so wanted to run on trails, but it had been so warm that the trails had to be mush. It wouldn't be fun. I was about to drive to Tamworth for a road run when it dawned on me the higher elevations would still have pretty solid trails. It was the perfect day for a run up the Tuckerman Ravine Trail! I didn't think it would be very crowded, and the day was gorgeous. It actually would have been a perfect day to run to the summit of Mt Washington, but I still assumed the 15K was on at this point (even though we watched the weather forecast continue its decline), so I only planned an easy run just up to Hermit Lake Shelter in order to not destroy my legs.

Just as I predicted, the lot wasn't full when I arrived at Pinkham Notch. The sky was clear and it was warming up already. I started up the trail...only to run into 3 groups of school kids! Ahhhh!! One group just stood in the trail, and I got pretty annoyed because the trail was already getting soft, so I had to go around them in the slush. Fortunately, their guide noticed this immediately and was on them about moving out of the trail. I was happy to get past the third group since it was quiet most of the way up, only passing a few people here and there. My hamstrings and glutes were giving me some trouble I think from all of the sitting the day before, so I was forced into a pretty slow pace. The trail was melting fast, but it was still solid enough to have good footing with my microspikes. I actually got so warm in the sun that I had to stop to take off some layers. It couldn't have been a more perfect day. It was only about 2.2 miles up to Hermit Lake. Seemed quick.

Back when I once ran a decent time at New Bedford. Haha.

The trail past Hermit Lake
I had planned to turned around at Hermit Lake, but I decided to continue on about a quarter mile up the Ravine Trail for a better view. It was only packed down by the footprints of the two guys ahead of me that I ran into when I turned around. The wind was starting to whip up some spiraling clouds over the summit, so I wasn't too disappointed I didn't plan the summit, but at the same time, part of me wished I'd had the gear to go on. I didn't, so I turned around and ran back down. That was super quick, less than 20 minutes. The whole run would be 5 miles in 1:07:17 moving time. Pretty slow, but like I said, I wasn't moving quickly at all. Just over 2000ft of elevation gain.

I was kind of sad to be done so quickly, but I had other things I wanted to lie in the sun. Haha. I was excited to hit the Backcountry Bakery in Jackson for coffee and their cornbread after my run, but as I pulled into the lot I saw it was closed and some froo-froo looking cake shop was in its place. Seriously? A cake shop? Only in Jackson. Sad, l drove on to North Conway and decided on The Met. I actually had a free drink available to me at Frontside Grind, Starbucks and The Met, so it didn't matter which one I chose. I honked at John when I drove past Frontside; he and his dad were getting into the car to leave.

I like The Met, so I'm not sure why I don't go there more often. The coffee is good and so is the food...usually. I ordered a spinach and feta croissant. When asked if I wanted it warmed, I said yes. Big mistake! She put it in a microwave! UGH. It ended up being really soft, almost soggy, and gross. If I had known I would never have said yes. Now I don't know if I'll ever be able to eat one of those from there again. Just thinking of it now is making me gag. A croissant should never go in a microwave anyway! Oh well.

Seriously. Looking at that now is making me gag.

"She put my goddamn croissant in the microwave!" LOL
When I got home, the front of my house was SO warm in the sun. I let Spot and Phoenix outside with me, and we spent the next hour and a half soaking up some rays. I started off like this...

Then moved on to this...

Gross hair that hadn't been washed in about 36 hours by this point. 
And then on to this....

Haha. My house is private so I can sunbathe how I want. :)
Sadly, after an hour and a half, I still looked pasty white. Haha. This year is going to take awhile.

I finally got my ass up and into my room for my upper body and abs workout. I'm amazed at how much progress I've made in now 3 months of consistent workouts. I've only had maybe 3 weeks that I didn't get the full 4 days in of strength training. This was one of the harder workouts which had my bicep looking pretty good right after. I'll admit that this bicep pic is way too Instagram-ish for me, but I did crop it as much as I could just to have the bicep in the shot. I'm just pretty psyched to finally have a strong upper body again. Lots of pull-ups.

I finally got in the shower, then took Spot and Phoenix back to Tin Mountain to check out the trails. I should have worn skis again, but I brought my Dion's instead. Big mistake. I was sinking in the wet snow, and my feet ended up wet and cold about halfway through the walk. I was able to get on the trail across Bald Hill and was surprised to see one of the big climbs completely clear of snow. The sun must have been hitting it in the right place. Too bad, it was going to be snow-covered again the next day. We ended up walking 2 miles, most of it breaking trail through heavy, wet snow.

Camouflage Phoenix is in this pic

The sight of last year's Dirty Girl Trail Race debacle. Look at how the smiling sign is taunting me. 
 I was pretty beat when I got home. And I also realized that I was on week 2 of not receiving any mail. I had shoveled my mailbox out after the big storm two weeks prior...and no mail delivery. I was expecting my New Hampshire EMT Provider License and a new passport, but nothing. Grr. Time to complain.

I didn't do anything else but make a quiche for dinner then sit down and watch TV. At this point, the dread of the 15K was really hanging over my head. 5-8inches of snow was expected in Upton, Ma race morning. I had a hotel booked in Milford so that we could go down Friday instead. Super annoying knowing I was having to spend money on another hotel room. Grr. Not only was I going to suck in Saturday's race, the conditions were also going to suck. Ugh. Just cancel it already!

Friday, March 31, 2017- Woke up to a race update basically saying they were just going to wait and see. Ugh. I was annoyed that no decision had been made, but I thought that by noon they would come through. I understood their delay, though. I was just frustrated knowing we had to leave around 2pm and that it was already snowing down there. No matter when we went down it was going to be in the snow. I did not want to race the next at all!! I was so hoping it would go in my favor. That being said, I still ran a typical pre-race day run keeping it short and slow. 5.6 miles from home through Cranmore Shores and back. 42:58. It kind of bugged me to be wasting a free half day on such a crappy run, but the race could still be on, so I had to run like it was. I wore the Hoka One One Tracer's for this one. Very comfortable! I like 'em! Looking forward to testing them out more.

After the run, I went out to buy dog food and take the dogs on a short walk. I also stopped at the post office to complain that I hadn't gotten my mail in two weeks (I don't think she really believed me, but she still followed through on it. I turned out to be correct. My mailman showed up at my door yesterday (4/4) with a huge wad of my accumulated mail that he had wrapped in a rubber band.)

The morning was spent chatting with Amy Bernard, Heather Mahoney and Christin Doneski about the 15K. Christin had booked a room in the same place I did, so we were both getting pretty annoyed as midday approached with no decision. It was close to the time we would need to leave, and we were both going to be pretty unhappy if we did end up down there having spent money on hotel rooms only to have the race cancel last minute. We were just frustrated that no decision had been made. I hadn't even packed yet, and then I got a message from Bryan that John was upset and in tears about having to leave for another race, so I, now, had even more of a reason for the race to be cancelled. How could I do that to John? It was such a tough position I thought I was going to be in if I had to make the decision. But finally, in between 1-2pm, I saw the email that the USATF-NE had removed the 15K from the Grand Prix Series. Oh my god. The relief. I was only doing it because it was a GP race, so now the decision to still race it was easy. No way in hell. The pressure was off...and now I had a good prank to play on John. It was kind of mean, but I made it quick. As soon as Bryan dropped him off, I composed myself from laughter and then rushed out the door like I was in a rush and very serious. As John walked my way with all of his bags, I opened the car door and said very seriously, "Just put all of your stuff in the car because we need to leave RIGHT NOW." As much as I would have liked to wait longer before letting him on joke, I could tell by the look he gave me that he might burst into tears. So I only waited a few seconds before saying, "Just kidding! It was cancelled!" (Granted it wasn't cancelled officially, but we weren't going.) His eyes lit up and a fist of victory went into the air. That was a good moment.

But like I said, I immediately got antsy. I couldn't sit down. I had to move around. What are we going to do?! Where can we go?! I finally had to calm down and realize we didn't NEED to go anywhere. But what about being with other people?! Well, that wasn't happening, but it was ok. I had to get over it. And I'll admit that after I did get over it, it was very comforting knowing we had nowhere to be. And with the snowstorm, I would end up staying really busy most of Saturday and made good use of our Sunday, as well. I'm not trapped in the house for runs anymore. I can't drive off to some trailhead for a long mountain run, but I can now run on the roads around Conway and Albany. So the isolation isn't quite as bad as it used to be.

We didn't go anywhere on Friday. John really needed the down time of not being rushed around, and the snowstorm had already started. I did the usual household chores. Nothing special.

Chill on his window bed probably dreaming of running off for two days

He's a sweet dog when he's not being a jerk to other male dogs.

Best label ever. Thanks to Seth Acton for this beer by Sons of Liberty.
Saturday, April 1, 2017- April Fool's! It's a blizzard! Ugh. We already had 2 inches of wet, heavy snow by the time I woke. It would fall until nearly 4pm totaling almost a foot!! WTF.

Looks pretty at least!

Phoenix is buried. Haha.

As soon as I saw the top of the light, I immediately thought of the guards with the Bearskin hats. Haha.

I decided to stick to the treadmill for 5 miles of climbing intervals. When I walked into my bedroom to change into my running clothes, I was met with this sight...
That's snow from the roof completely blocking my window. It usually builds up on that side of the house, but this was a first. I was SO done with the snow. I purposely put on my 2016 Bobby Doyle race shirt to do my run in to remind me of how much I hate heat and humidity. Haha.

The run ended up being good. It was the same exact run I did previously. Half mile intervals alternating from a 1% grade at 8.5mph for the first half mile, followed by a 10% grade at 6.5mph for second half mile. 5.2 miles total with about 1450ft of elevation gain in 42:43.

I know a lot of people do their uphill training on treadmills with just climbing and no relief, but I don't really need that type of training just yet. I can already run up mountains without stopping to walk. My problem is speed. I don't have any on long climbs. So right now, I'm doing it in intervals to build up some speed. Doing it for only a half mile allows me to run a decent, uncomfortable pace. It's still followed with a not-so-easy recovery; 8.5mph isn't taking it easy. This workout really doesn't aggravate my hamstrings much either. My plan is to do this training at least once a week into mid-May. Then at that point, I'll switch it to just uphill-only to get more specific training for the Mt Washington Road Race. I'm hoping my speed will have improved by then. I need to get back that speed I had in 2015 prior to my injury. My climbing has been mediocre ever since.

I went right from the treadmill to my upper body and abs workout, still following Zuzka Light's programs.

I showered, then needed to rest for an hour before venturing outside to do my most detested chore. Snowblow! We had about 9 inches of heavy, wet snow on the ground. I didn't even know if my snowblower would even work in these conditions. I was almost right! Underneath the snow was nothing but water, mud and sand that my snowblower continually sunk down into. It was clogged constantly with this heavy, wet (yet great for building a snowman) snow. I'm surprised I didn't lose my shit again. I really don't know how I didn't. I was basically lifting and pushing the machine the whole time since the power option just caused the wheels to spin deeper into the mud. I had to shovel it out I don't know how many times. By the time I was "done", it had been 3 hours and I had been able to clear just enough to get my car out of a narrow, messy path. The snow had stopped just as I finished, thankfully. But 3 hours of my life I'll never get back. I was SO beat. My neck and shoulders were killing me. I felt like collapsing... but I needed to make sure John got out for some exercise.

Bruised hand from holding down the handle for the auger.
Had to disturb the sleeping beauties to get in the car
I loaded the xc ski gear into the car and off John and I went to the Albany Town Forest to ski a 2.3-mile loop. It was actually really nice... at first. Someone else had cleared a ski track before us, so it was super fun. They stopped and turned around at one point, though, and we continued on the loop having to break trail for about 3/4 of a mile. It was tough to break trail through the heavy snow. I made John do it for awhile since I needed a break. I was SO tired. We finally completed the loop and finished off back on the already packed trail. It was worth getting John and the dogs out for nearly 1.5 hours. John was the one who really needed it.

John sitting on a bench that was nearly covered by the snow

I had to get out into the land of the living, even if I didn't talk to anyone but the server, so we drove over to Fryeburg to the 302 Smokehouse and Tavern. It's a great spot since it's not a tourist trap and the atmosphere is nice. This was where I came for that free Thanksgiving dinner. We got a great table by the window, for me, and by Marylin, for John. It was hilarious; I had to get a picture. Haha.

The food came out quickly. I ordered a local brew and enjoyed looking out at the same view I had when I worked at the chiropractor's office that was only two doors down.
Saco River Brewing Clearwater Pale Ale
The food was out so fast that I don't even think we were there 45 minutes. Back home to my slushy driveway mess. John went back to his Roblox game while I watched The Fault in our Stars. Yep. It was sad. I cried at the end. Big tears, too. Haha.

Sunday, April 2, 2017- What an incredibly beautiful day!! Wow! That bright light in the sky was shining. What a sight!! It was warm-ish, too. Woohoo! Although I didn't want to do a road run, I knew it was the only thing available to me besides the treadmill. I gave John my route and off I went for a run into Conway Village where I passed one of my neighbors out running with his dog. I crossed the pedestrian bridge over Peqwuaket Pond then continued up Tasker and Allard Hill Roads. Don Fredrikson passed me as I started the long climb up Allard. Yelled that I was going too slow. Haha. I was actually going slow, but I had to. I could definitely feel the hamstrings/glutes early on in the run. I had planned to run to the top of Modock Hill Rd, but turned around at the end of Allard Hill and headed back home via Cranmore Shores. I was fortunate to run on completely dry roads (except the sidewalk in Conway Village) until the last mile when I hit the dirt road completely snow-covered. Slowed me down significantly, but I didn't care. My hamstrings/glutes were screaming at me by this point. Ugh! Finished the run off with some good mileage at least. 11.1 miles in 1:25:07. Not bad pace still, especially with the slow last mile. 7:39/mile average. I was happy with it, but at that point, I had a feeling I should cut way back on running for the following week. Doyle's Emerald Necklace 5-mile race was a week away, and while I'm not expecting much speed, I still didn't want to be total junk for it. I wore the Hoka Tracer's again for this run. Also felt great. I think my narrow feet are perfect for this narrow shoe. Planning to wear them at Doyle's for a race test.

I showered as soon as I got home. No upper body and ab workout today. My neck was too sore for it, and I had already gotten in my 4 days for the week anyway. I couldn't wait to get John and the dogs out for a hike in this beautiful weather! It didn't take me long to decide on Foss Mountain in Eaton/Freedom. I knew it would be about a mile walk from the winter parking lot to the summit, so not too bad. I brought our snowshoes along just in case but opted not to bring them since the road was plowed. That would end up being a mistake, but not a bad one. Just made it slow going. The plowing ended about a quarter mile up the STEEP road; I decided to just keep going without them instead of turning us back to go get them.  I was actually the asshole making footprints in the snow! But it didn't really matter since it wasn't actually a trail, just a road. And we ended up just making our own path to the summit. Such a beautiful place! It was a little cold and windy up there, so we only stayed about 10 minutes, but it was just awesome. I was kicking myself for not bringing the xc skis. They would have been so fun up there. The whole walk was 2.5 miles in about 2 hours total. I took way too many pics!

John mid fall! Haha

I left out one photo. While John and I were enjoying this beautiful moment on the summit, 2.5 hours away, a friend lost his life. When I took this photo at 3:03pm, Jeremiah Fitzgibbon was struck by a car while riding his bike. He died from his injuries.

I took this photo of John on the summit in the same minute Jeremiah was hit. 
I didn't find this news out until the following morning just before leaving for work. I was in tears immediately. Huge tears. I had last seen him at the Granite State Snowshoe Series when he was so excited about the post race beer. Such a kind man! I can still picture his smile that last time I saw him. Such a loss to our running community. And so unnecessary! An accident that didn't have to happen had this driver of the car been paying attention as he turned.

A month ago at the Granite State Snowshoe Championship
I'm glad I didn't find out until the next morning. The weekend had ended up being pretty great, and it was good that it didn't end on that sad note. I stayed busy enough to not feel lonely or bored. I even swept and mopped the whole house when we got home from our hike before sitting down to watch The Walking Dead season finale. Now, I have to wait until October! What the hell?! Haha.

So the race-free weekend ended up being good despite having real life conversations with only John. I didn't really notice it, though. I think I was just too busy to. Snowblowing was probably the only frustrating part of the weekend, but it didn't ruin it. By Sunday night, I didn't miss racing one bit. That was a sign I needed a break. Mileage was on the low side with 40 miles, but that was probably more than I should have done! Still feeling so much better in general. I think another week of low miles will do me some good, and then hopefully Spring will be here before bug season. Yay! Haha.

Excellent beer I had on Sunday night while sweeping and mopping. My winnings from Brrr-lingame.
I'd never heard of Joseph Arthur until a few days after we finished our Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike in 2002 when a fellow hiker friend dragged us to a concert in Vancouver, B.C. I was amazed and have been a fan ever since. So hard to pick just one song, but this was one of my favorites.

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