Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Wachusett and Pineland- Doubling Up

Amazing lilacs growing in my yard. Had a few seconds to stop and smell them before being attacked by mosquitoes.
My mileage this week is pretty awesome. And I totally could have spent 20 seconds fixing it, but I thought leaving it at 59.9 miles was funny, so I did. Definitely would have been more, but I skipped cool downs on both Saturday and Sunday. I just have zero interest in cooling down most of the time now. It was only 2 years ago that I actually started doing warm ups and cool downs. I've needed the warm ups as I've aged, but the cool downs...meh, I can do without. Walking around is actually way more effective for me in general. I will still do them, but it's hit or miss. Most of the time it's a miss with me saying, "Fuck that." Haha. Anyway, pretty good mileage for the week. If I'm doing longer races, I tend to get up to the 60ish range. Otherwise, I'm happy with the 50 range this time of year. 6,132ft of elevation gain which seems to be consistent for the last month. 8.5 hours of time on my feet.

I ended up pulling a double race weekend again. Not my original plan, as I've said, since my A goal for the Spring was supposed to be the Pineland 50. But I made the smart decision to drop to the 25K due to the inability to train past the first week of March for a long distance race and just the sheer fact that I'm still not 100%. I keep doing well enough that people think I'm a sandbagger, but it's not a joke. The high hamstring thing is still there. I feel it on most runs. Somehow, it's improved greatly, and I'm starting to run a little better, but it is STILL THERE. I'm not making shit up or being dramatic. I would give anything not to ever feel this injury nor utter the words "high hamstrings" again in my life. I'm just lucky that with all of the mountain and trail running I've been doing that I've really strengthened up all of my other leg muscles to compensate.

So, anyway, I wasn't super excited about the Pineland 25K. I've done it. Whoop-de-doo. That's why I signed up for Wachusett Mountain Race. Something new to me that I could fit into my schedule for the first time ever. But...knowing only the uphill part counted towards the Mountain Series, I wasn't excited about it either (kind of went into it with an apathetic attitude and my uphill portion reflected that). So two weeks prior, I came so close to jumping into the Vermont City Marathon. I didn't realize how bummed out I was going to be missing out on it this year, but I thought about Cranmore being 6 days later and figured it would be a bad decision. After seeing the winning women's masters time (3:21!), I'm kicking myself for not going out there and just doing it as an easy long run. That $750 would have paid my mortgage another month! Oh well, I would also be dying right now, so it's all good. Barring injury, I'll be back at VCM in 2018. Alas, I stuck to my plan for doing Wachusett and Pineland. I ended up doing ok at Wachusett and finishing 1st female at Pineland, meaning I destroyed myself by the end of the week. I don't really regret my choices for the weekend, but there's still a little footing-stomping, arms-crossed, immature whining going on in my head about missing out on the 50 and VCM.

Before I go on with the week stuff, I thought I'd add some photos from the Massasoit 10K Trail Race from the weekend before.

Monday, May 22, 2017- Zero day, as usual. Walked 2 miles on the treadmill. I don't remember much else other than getting my ear talked off constantly by my coworkers who love to talk NON-STOP. Ugh. I'd enter the quiet, empty room... then like vultures they would appear!! AHHHHH! I'm social, but not that social. If I look like I'm reading something, that should be a clue to not bug me. But, no, I have to hear about their kids' issues in school when I cannot relate AT ALL.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017- 5:30am 911 call. Fortunately turned out to be a sign off so we were back at the base by 6:30am. I decided to go to the track again and try out some 400s. I ran the usual 2 miles on the Conway Rec Path to the track at Kennett HS. Ran it a little faster than usual which was a good sign. I changed into my spikes when I got there. I was a little reluctant to run in them again with the Plantar Fasciitis, but it ended up not being much of an issue. 400s were my most consistent track workout by the end of last summer. Not so much now. And they were significantly slower. I managed to kind of get them under control, but I was still bummed about the speed even though I expected it. 200m rest in between each one.
12x400- 90, 87, 87, 90, 87, 88, 89, 89, 89, 89, 87, 86
Happy I managed to pull it together at the end. And the 4th 400 of 90 seconds was kind of fluke when some HS kids taking pictures on the track stepped out in front of me. I had to slow down and then veer around them. Kind of bummed when I finished, but then I had to remember that I was in much better shape by the end of last summer than I am now. If I can do these times now, I should be in a similar place by the end of this summer. I have the Millen Mile to think about! Haha.
2 mile cool down on the Conway Rec Path back to the car.

The sun came out as soon as I got home, and there were no bugs!! So I sat outside in the sun with my coffee and one of the donuts Tony had given me. It was so nice.

Yes, that is a picture of two people having sex on my mug. Haha.
As soon as John got home, I did my upper body and abs workout, showered, then took him to Echo Lake to do some mountain biking on the trails there. My legs were pretty tired, but these trails aren't super hilly. We rode 3 miles.

On the way home, I had to stop at Flatbread to drop off a kids zip up to one of the employees there who ran my race. I had no intention of buying food....until I saw the special board! It was basically a bacon cheeseburger flatbread. Couldn't resist, and oh my god, it was so good!! I couldn't even wait to take a photo before the first piece was in my mouth.

When we got home, as I was unloading the bikes off the car in bug hell, I decided to take all three dogs out on the trail in my woods. To speed up the process and beat the bugs, I decided to bike it. Haha.

Sat down with a beer on the deck right after...for two minutes before being attacked by stick play and black flies. It was back into the house.

I was pretty beat, but I opted for a second run during John's ninja class on the trails in the Outer Limits. My usual loop that I do up there during his class. 4.5 miles. Much to my surprise, I ran it 6 minutes faster than I had a month before. That really perked me up since it was a sign I was definitely improving over the month of May. 6 minutes is significant on a 4.5 mile run. When I got back, I stopped at my car to grab water then went inside to watch the last part of John's ninja class. When it was over, we walked to the car in a mosquito swarm, and that's when I looked down at the keys in my hand to find the car key not on them. When I run, I separate the car key from the main ring and bring it with me, but this time when I got back to the car, I set down the car key, picked up the other keys, locked the door and shut it. And, yep, there it was sitting right on my seat inside the locked car. Meanwhile, we're getting attacked by mosquitoes. Fuck me. I made a call to a locksmith who wanted $55. No way, Jose. Time for a different plan. A-ha! We'd get a ride from the ambulance crew back to the base, borrow an ambulance, drive it home, pick up my second set of keys then drive back.

I was happy to find the crew at the base. It was literally right around the corner, and we could have walked there, but with the mosquitoes as bad as they were, John would have been eaten alive. So Jen and Eric drove over in A2 and picked us up. John was so excited to be riding in the ambulance and said he was going to tell his friends the next day. Haha. As soon as we got to the base, I saw the wheelchair van and decided to take that instead since it would be easier. So John and I hopped in. I changed the radio station from country to pop, and John and I ate the Jolly Ranchers we found that belonged to Chummy, the wheelchair driver. John thought this was an adventure, so it ended up being pretty fun in the end.

I dropped John at the house, got my car keys and then loaded up the 3 dogs. I figured I would run back to my car from the base and get the dogs some exercise at the same time. Forgot to grab my head lamp, so the run through the woods was in the dark, but it was only .6 miles back to my car. Got back to my car, started to drive out...when I see I've been shut in by the gate. Nooooooo! Phew, it wasn't locked! So I was on my way and back home by 9pm. Not in my plan, and now I was insanely exhausted. 14.4 miles of running for the day and 3 miles of biking. Stick a fork in me.

Very confused dogs
Wednesday, May 24, 2017- Woke up at 4:15am and made the decision to run outside! This is something I haven't really been able to do much on Wednesdays since I don't like to leave John alone while he's sleeping, but now that his dad has a different schedule, he parks in the driveway overnight now. The weather was perfect, and the sun was coming up already, which made it easier to get out. I just ran an easy out and back through Cranmore shores for 4.4 miles. My legs felt pretty dead from the day before, so I just ran a very easy 7:59/mi avg pace. Just getting something in before work was my goal.

Work was pretty slow in comparison to the crazy week before. This pic sums up my day...

My legs were so beat, I didn't even walk at all today. Laaazzzzzyyyy day.

Thursday, May 25, 2017- No calls all night! Yay! Went home and had a lazy morning before I had to meet Frank Nordaby for a run. Frank had messaged me the week before asking if he could join me on a mountain run to help him train for the mountain portion of his triathlon coming up. Mountain portion, you say? Yeah, this not your average triathlon. Our run was a longish 10-mile loop in the Green Hills over Black Cap and Cranmore, so we had plenty of time to chat about his upcoming race. If I were into triathlons, this would be the kind I would do. Sea to Summit 2.0. I'm so glad I'm not into triathlons. Haha. It starts with a 1.5 mile swim, then a 95 mile bike ride to Pinkham Notch and a hike/run up to the top of Mt Washington via the Tuckerman Ravine Trail. Ouch to the swim and the bike. Haha. So Frank was here to get in some mountain running. I would have picked something more spectacular, but the weather was gloomy, and I wanted to do something that wouldn't kill my legs for Saturday. So I chose the run from Thompson Rd up the Black Cap Connector Trail. Although not as steep as what he'll be doing, it is a longish climb up at 4.5 miles. It was so weird doing this with someone else because the time went by so quickly. I couldn't believe we were already at the top of Black Cap. I didn't take any pictures for some reason so there will be no selfies to share!! :( Haha. The run down to Cranmore and then the service road can really beat you up, so we ran this super easy. Ran into John's ninja class coach (who I just found out quit! I'm so sad!) on the way down. Then it was back up to the Connector Trail to complete our loop and run to the trailhead. It was a good run. A little slower than I would normally run it on my own, but I was fine with it. Felt great to run it at an easy pace. And Frank really seemed to enjoy the route. We had to part quickly because a black fly swarm found us as soon as we stopped running. Before my new Garmin, I used to get right around 10 miles for this route. Today, with my current Garmin, I got 9.5 miles in 1:56:40. 2,313ft of elevation gain. Nothing crazy, but just a great trail to take for a less strenuous mountain run.

After parting ways, I went to Frontside Grind for the first time in awhile. Used up my free latte and got a muffin. I was starving. The place was filled with young girls talking too much so I didn't stay long. Haha. No idea why there were so many groups of them in there.

I went home and got in my upper body and abs workout, showered and then took Spot and Phoenix on a walk in the Albany Town Forest. That wasn't my plan. I was headed into town to walk them at Whitaker Woods and then run some errands, but I was met with damn tourist traffic!! WTF. On a Thursday. It was backed up to the Kanc, so I just turned there and went to the Town Forest instead. It ended up being pretty nice and not buggy! 2.9 miles (there it is again! That .9 and holding thing. Haha).

Spot in the Swift River

I look frazzled, but it's a funny pic.
The rest of the night was spent at home. Errands could wait. I avoid tourists as much as I can. Haha.

Made this pic in reference to a comment about me having to push Eric Narcisi at VCM 2018 to get him to the line since he's always injured.

Friday, May 26, 2017- Toyed with the idea of going into Portland this morning and finally decided to just do it. I wanted to return Tony Wild's donut container filled with donuts, and what could be better than a Holy Donut, so that was my first stop when I got into the city. I don't know how I did it, but I got Tony a half dozen donuts and NONE for myself. I guess I just wasn't hungry and the next stop was my run. Just as I left the Holy Donut, a downpour began. Haha. Of course it did. The temperature was nice, though, so it wasn't hard to get myself out of the car at the Eastern Promenade to start on the that section and then make my way over to the Back Cove Loop. For some reason, I thought this run would only be 6 miles, but my memory of the Back Cove distance failed me. I ended up with 8 miles on the dot. Haha. The run in the Eastern Prom is flat, so I started with an out and back to one end. The run back was in the wind and pouring rain. I passed my car and continued on to the connector that would take me under I-295 and over to a loop of the Back Cove. I thought the loop was 2 miles, but it turned out to be 3.5. Oops. Fortunately, the rain had stopped by mile 4, so I got half of the run in nice weather. Stopped for a photo op of some cool graffiti.

I chose not to look at my watch and just run comfortably. Since it's mostly flat, it was on the faster side. 8 miles in 59:01. Nothing crazy, but faster than I've done any road run in awhile.

I changed out of my soaking wet clothes, hit Trader Joe's and then on to a quick appointment before heading home. I didn't have time to hit the Bier Cellar as planned, but I figured I could grab some stuff to trade the next day at The Good Beer Store in Fryeburg. I was shocked to find nearly empty shelves and what was there was a very weak selection. No idea how they stay in business. I walked out with one 4-pack of some Foundation and a milk stout for me. Not sure I'll bother going back there anytime soon. It's been more and more disappointing every time I go in there.

I ran into serious traffic on the way home due to an accident shutting 16 down in Conway. Ugh. Figured it was a good time to do those errands and then hit a different beer place that actually had some good beer. Haha. John was home when I got there. He'd already done a lot with his dad that morning so we didn't go anywhere else. I got in my last upper body and abs workout for the week. I had planned to skip Saturday and hit my 4th day on Sunday. I would end up being so tired and sick to my stomach that I skipped it Sunday, too. Oh well.

Saturday, May 27, 2017- Wachusett Mountain Race-

Race #3 in the Mountain Series meant an early 4:15am alarm. Why do I do this to myself? Ugh. I decided to bring all of the dogs along since the forecast was for cloudy skies and cool temps. Hahaha. Stupid New England. It would end up being sunny and about 10 degrees warmer than predicted. Oh well.

It wasn't a bad drive, except I could not find a place to use the bathroom!! I kept getting off at exits saying there was a gas station, but then I'd find none right off the exit. I just kept going until I found a place. Man. After a lot of coffee, that was getting uncomfortable. Haha. When we got to the race, I found a shady spot to park then checked in. I found Jen Graves at the registration table and inquired about what time John should be out of the car and ready to go up the mountain with her son, Andrew, to work the water stop. It ended up not being much time. People were already starting to talk to me, but I really needed to get back to the car and get him up. John told me he wanted to work the water stop at the top of the mountain a few weeks prior, so I officially signed him up. I knew he would be with Andrew and that they would probably have a good time. Rewind to 3am to when I busted John still awake on his computer!!! OMG! I was pretty mad. Needless to say, getting him to wake up, get dressed in warmer clothes and  out of the car in a timely manner ended up being a stressful event. He was mad at me, but I reminded him that he wanted to do this and that he had a responsibility to follow through with it. He was taking his sweet time when they came over and said he needed to go NOW. I rushed him out of the car and off he went with Andrew to the top. I hoped it would be fun and turn his attitude around. I figured this would end up being a good lesson on what happens when you stay up that late and then have to follow through with a responsibility whether you like it or not.

Once he was gone, I was able to breathe a little bit. Definitely not the stress I needed right before a race I'd never done before and one where only the uphill was important. Ugh. I needed to relax a little so I took a solo warm up. Just a little over a mile, but it was all I needed. I made sure all of the dogs got out to use the bathroom in the woods then left Chill and Spot tied up outside the car so they would be cool enough. Phoenix doesn't get hot, so she stayed in the car. I joined Barbara McManus and Jim Pawlicki for the walk down to the start and then hung out with a group of CMS teammates until it was time to go. I was nervous and just couldn't get my head in the game. I was already discouraged about the uphill. I asked people about the course and was told the third mile was really steep, so I figured I would start out easy at a comfortable pace so that I didn't kill myself for the third mile.

The race started, and I found myself immediately far back for the women. Probably 9th or 10th by the first 2/10 of  a mile. My brain just said, "Fuck it," and I pretty much gave up right there. I never tried to push it. It wasn't that I was taking it easy because I wasn't. I was definitely hurting. I just couldn't get myself to go a little bit deeper into that uncomfortable zone. I just didn't care. By mile one, I was in 8th for the women and running right behind Kara Haas. Jamie Woolsey was in a very distant view, as well as a set of young twin girls. A woman who looked legit and had us all freaking out was actually starting to drop back by this point. I knew my uphill time would be a joke so I decided to make sure I went all out on the downhill to at least save some face for the full 10K, even if it didn't count for points in the Series (so dumb and a cop out, if you ask me. If the race is a 10K, then the whole 10K should count). Just as we hit the 3rd mile, Kara started to have some coordination trouble and had to run backwards to keep her legs under her. This ended up slowing her down, so I passed her. I was really impressed with her run here, considering she's hardly run since October! I kept waiting for it to get steeper, but to me it never did until the very last .1 to the top. I'm not sure what everyone is talking about. I guess it looks steeper on the elevation profile, but to me, it was negligible. Granted, there's a slight down in the 2nd mile, but for the uphill overall, it all felt pretty much the same. Had I known this, there's a chance I might have pushed a little harder early on, but like I said, I was very apathetic coming into it, so just the mental thing alone held me back. I know I can do better in the future now that I've done it. I just don't know when I'll be back.

As we got to the top for the turn to the summit, I could see John working hard at the water stop. He was fixing the trash can. Made me smile. I hit the summit as 7th woman in 25:10. 43rd overall.

We go around a building and then start to head down. I could see John out there ready to hand me water. I wanted to take it, but I needed to start hauling ass so I told him, "I want to take it, but I need to start running fast!" And fast I did. On the downhill, I left nothing on the course. I passed the 6th woman pretty quickly and then the twin girls right after that. Jamie had a really good lead on me and was running strong on the pavement. When we hit the dirt road, it gave me a little of an advantage and I finally caught and passed her. She was not easy to catch this time, and right after I passed her we hit a flat and uphill section. OW! I'm surprised she didn't pass me right back. Switching gears like that was not easy, but fortunately, it wasn't too, too long before the rest of the downhill arrived. The road wasn't exactly smooth, but my Hoka Clifton 2s held up ok. Not a shoe I would normally race in because it's so thick, but I actually wanted some cushion for the Plantar Fasciitis on that downhill. They worked great for that. I was a little nervous in them on the rough road, but they ended up being fine and didn't slow me down at all. I really wanted to catch Christin Doneski because she came into view finally, but there just wasn't enough time. Her lead at the top was just too much for me. I would be happy with 3rd woman, though. I came in in 45:01, 22nd overall. That meant I ran 19:51 for the downhill portion. I'd take it. Full Results.

I ended up 2 minutes and 15 seconds behind Laura Brustolon at the top so my points for this race in the Series aren't awesome. Right around 91%. My points will also suck at Cranmore. I was hoping to bang out of Greylock because it's just so difficult logistically for me, but it looks like I'm going to have to do it to make up for the shitty points here at Wachusett. Not that I'm expecting to beat Christin Doneski in the Series this year. The woman is amazing, even if she is the biggest sandbagger I know. Haha. Well, she is on Whirlaway. You can't get on their team unless you pass the sandbagger test. I'm saying this all with jest, as I'm good friends with a lot the Whirlaway women, and this has been a running joke for the last year. Haha. :) Christin dominates any uphill running. I just can't compete with that, but I would like to finish somewhat close to her in the final standings and not be a million points behind. Haha. I did learn a cool stat after this race via Dave Dunham, the King of Running Stats! Wachusett served as my 30th race ever in the Mountain Series! That's pretty neat. What's even cooler as that I shared this honor with Jacqueline Shakar who also marked her 30th race. She was my very first rival in the Mountain Series back in 2011. We often finished a place apart from each other for a long time. Pretty neat.

As soon as I finished, it was social hour! Omg! So many people to talk to. People I didn't even know were there. After talking to a bloodied Ed Sheldon, I attempted to move on, but nope. Everyone as they finished saw me and came over to talk. It was actually really nice to talk to everyone, but man, it probably took me 15 minutes just to walk away from the finish line. Haha. It was the same back in the parking lot. I finally got to catch up with Christin, which was nice. I finally made my way back to the car. Screw the cool down; I just changed shirts and put on my sandals. Dogs were good. Matt Howard came over for a beer exchange. He brought me more beers from the Abandoned Building Brewery, the same place the Dirty Girl IPA came from. I only had 3 beers to share due to my difficulty in finding decent beer the day before. We met another guy from the beer page who was drinking a Heady Topper. Haha.

It was back over to the tent for the awards and raffle. I still had yet to see John back from the top of the mountain, but when I found Jen Graves, she told me he was back and sitting in their car with Andrew playing on the iPad. Haha. Perfect! That meant he was having fun and made a friend!! Yay! Sigh of relief that he had a good time there. He ALWAYS does if I can get him involved somehow. I ended up talking to more people I knew, especially Barbara McManus and Kara Haas. I ended up winning a sweatshirt for 2nd master female. The woman wouldn't give it to me when I said a small for my size. She held it close to her and said, "These run small." Geez. What was she implying? I didn't think I was that big. So I smiled and exclaimed, "Perfect!" Haha. It's unisex sizing. Of course I want a small.

Stayed for the raffle and ended up winning a garden hose. Haha. You got to pick what you wanted, so I chose that. It was still social hour for me. I wish I could find the pic, but I jumped in an aR photo, as did someone from CMS. Thought that would be cool to see. I noticed right after this that Tony and Rachel had already left for our planned beer and lunch stop at the Gardner Ale House. Eek! Wish I had known since I still had to tear John away. We were some of the last to leave the lot and made our way to Gardner where we met up with the whole Brightman family, as well as Rachel and Tony. I invited Michael Narcisi, who in turn invited a SISU teammate, so we had a pretty good group there. The place was pretty cool. The beer and food outstanding! I got a duck grilled cheese. Haha.

Me, Rachel and Tony by Steve Brightman
Jennifer Brightman tagged me in this photo later of two of her girls with Chill outside the restaurant. Haha..
We did a quick beer exchange with Tony and Rachel in the parking lot then hit the road. I was ready to get HOME, especially for John. Knowing this was a "Leslie is an extremely selfish parent weekend for doing double races", I wanted to give John time to do what he wanted. As with the drive down, John slept the whole way back. He needed that sleep after staying up so late and then working the water stop.

The way down. I made him fix his seatbelt right after this- just a disclaimer. ;)

The way back. The cinnamon rolls were never opened. Haha.
I took the dogs out when we got home then got to work on the pasta salad I had to make for Pineland the next day. For Sunday's races, everyone is supposed to bring a dish, cold pasta or salad or a dessert. It didn't take long to make mine. Farfelle pasta with strawberries, spinach, feta cheese and toasted almonds with a balsamic reduction. Pretty fucking good.

I would learn later that even though I've always brought a dish, it really isn't that well known to do so among runners. I'd say maybe 5% of the racers, if even, brought something to share. Mine was so good, though, I made sure I got some the next day before it was all gone. Haha.

I had a beer while I made it then attempted to sit down with John to watch TV, but that 4am wake up caught up to me. I didn't last long before I went to bed. I was glad for the 10am start time and shorter drive the next day, but I was starting to feel unsure about even racing at this point. My quads were feeling pretty heavy by the time I lied down. I would let the moment of the alarm decide on whether to go or not.

Sunday, May 28, 2107- Pineland Farms 25K Trail Race-

Well, when the alarm went off, I was ready to go...until I stood up. OMG. My quads were so sore! No exaggeration. Wow. I had no idea how I was going to pull this race off. Luckily, I was also apathetic as to my performance today that I just didn't care how I did! Haha. (Ok, once I toed the line that attitude changed 😊 ). It was nice getting up and out later. I couldn't bring any dogs today so I took them out, then got John out right on time. The 50 and 50K races had already been going on by the time we got there at 8:30am. I found a spot to set up the tent and a chair for John in case it got buggy or he wanted to sleep. It ended up being our own little camp away from the rest of the tents. This was nice, except for the fact that someone left their dog's poo right there the day before, and I didn't notice it until I stepped in it after the race. Haha.

After getting set up and ready to race, I went out for a mile warm up and discovered something awesome. My hamstrings were just as sore as my quads!! Yay! And not my injury either. Just actual soreness in the middle of the hamstrings from the day before. It was bad, and I mean really bad. I was laughing at myself for doing this. So dumb. And realizing I hadn't run anything with some sort of speed over 12 miles since New Bedford wasn't helping me feel better. This course is fast. It's very hilly and tough, but in general, it's a fast course. Nothing technical at all. Just smooth ground on rolling hills. This was going to be painful.

I procrastinated moving to the start. When I lined up, I took a look around. I didn't recognize a single woman. The only one who looked fast was there with Dan Button and wearing SISU stuff. I talked to Dan a bit. He was out for blood, i.e. the course record (and would end up succeeding). I talked to Jeff Walker who was just there watching and met one of his friends. Other than that, no one else was familiar. Weird since this normally has a big field of people I know. This could be good or bad since I had no idea if any of them were fast or not.

Ian gave his pre-race announcements including telling us that there was a lot of mud on the course and not to try to go around it. I heeded that and went right through the first mud puddle we came across. Better to just get it over with right off the bat. The race started off fast as it always does. As I wrote in my last blog post, I tend to go out fast in trail races to get a lead. The less people can see of you from behind, the better. It tends to psych them out if you're out of view. It's that way in a road race, too, but it's often more difficult to get out of view. It's also why I don't typically wear extremely bright colors in a trail race. Too easy to spot.

Pineland's first two miles are wicked fast anyway, since most of it is downhill. So I just went with it. I knew it was too fast, but I would start to get into a groove around mile 3. I could feel my quads right from the get-go, but they weren't too bad...yet. I hit miles 1 and 2 in 7:00 and 6:46.

I saw Todd Callahan cheering from the sidelines. His wife was out there running her first 25K.

Race photos are kind of crappy. Love bouncing skin. I vowed to beat that guy for wearing the race shirt AND extra small shorts. 
I typically reserve this Grumpy Cat meme for people who drink inferior beer, but this guy deserves it. Haha. Sorry, whoever you are if you see this. It's really in jest. I swear. Ok, not the part about me vowing to beat you. 
The trail started to roll from here, and then once you hit the fields, the speed is slower. There was definitely a good amount of mud out there, but in my opinion, it seemed like a typical Pineland amount of mud. When I last did the 25K in 2013, now THAT was a lot of mud. It was crazy. By mile 4, I was all of a sudden feeling the hamstrings. It was so bad, I wasn't even sure I could finish the race. I was dying. Seriously. Uphills were the death of me with the hamstrings and the downhills were the death of me with the quads. It was laughable. What the hell was I doing out there? I ended up staying with this same group of guys, though, for a long time. I ended up right behind one guy who was adamant about going around every single mud puddle. EVERY SINGLE ONE. At one point, he went around one so close to an ultrarunner that he nearly ran into her, and she had to step way off to the side. That was when I hoped he went face down in a puddle. I kind of got my wish only half a mile later, but instead of a puddle, he went down hard on solid ground. I felt bad about that one because it looked like it hurt. I made a quick check-in that he was ok. He was, so then I passed him by. He never caught me again, but he was never far behind.

I ended up running with a Six03 teammate for basically the first 10 miles. He would smoke me on the climbs, though, and then I would catch up. I had this same group of guys right behind me the whole way. A few would pass me in the end, but most just stayed close. Those last hills through the woods from miles 7-10 are brutal. You climb and climb and climb. I was struggling big time. I couldn't wait for the long reprieve of downhill on the other side of the road.

Around mile 9
Even though coming past the start/finish only to still have about 5.5 miles to go is a definite mind fuck, I've always gotten a second (or 3rd or 4th) wind through this section. I think its long downhill helps even though it's followed by 3 miles of mostly climbing. At that point, though, you know you're almost done. I remember getting an awesome 2nd wind through this section when I did the 50K in 2012. This year would be no different. Although I would get passed in the last few miles by 3 guys, I would also get a pretty good lead on most of the guys who were right behind me went we started the loop. The Six03 guy I was with lost it quite a bit through this section. I passed by a lot of 50k and 50-mile people through here which was fun, especially when I passed Scott Hollister, a fellow Appalachian Trail thru-hiker from 1998. I made the mistake of saying, "You're almost done!" When they actually were still on the first loop. Oops. That was just me being dumb. Haha.

It was fun seeing Craig Nale out there cheering. I passed him 3 times which was funny. The race course definitely takes you all around. Haha. I was thankful to know the course pretty well at this point, so I knew when I was close to the aid station and how much farther I had to go. My legs were total trash at this point, but I was able to keep plugging away for my goal of sub-2 hours. In 2013, I just barely missed it. As we rounded the field with less than half a mile to go, I knew I was going to get that sub-2. It was such a relief knowing I was almost done AND that I was going to hit my goal and take the women's win. I finally rounded the corner. It was awesome having acidoticRACING and Six03 peeps cheering me on right there as I entered the chute. Of course, I always just go over the next minute. ALWAYS. Came through in 1:56:07. First female and 14th overall. 7:53/mi avg pace. 25K Results

 Too say I was psyched would be an understatement. I ran a pretty awesome race on extremely sore legs. They were screaming for 11 miles, so it really became all mental for me at that point. Taking it in small pieces since I knew the course well enough to tell myself what key spots were up next. I was very surprised to run that time AND win. I never had any contention from another woman. Dan's fiance was running second behind me, but got off course and decided to DNF. The actual second place woman was just over 7 minutes back. I wonder what I could have done on fresh legs...but I don't plan to do the 25K again for a long time. Haha. Here's a little photo montage from my years at Pineland. It's interesting to see how different I look in each one. You can tell I'm much more fit in 2013; I ran pretty well that year.  2012 and 2014, I was working two jobs, about 50-60 hours a week with very little time to run. Also in 2014, my marriage was in turmoil and only 2.5 months from its end. I would go from that 125lb person at the Canicross race to 114lbs of speed by the end of August. So weird how much a stressful, unhappy life can affect you physically.

2012- 50K


2014- Canicross with Chill and his dramatic leap over the finish line.
I could barely walk as soon as I finished. My legs were stuck in a bent position. I grabbed some water then caught up with Mick Arsenault for a few minutes before walking slowly to John. I changed shoes right away and threw on my singlet. Grabbed my beer tickets and headed over to the beer tent. I usually just take both cans at the same time and save one for later, but they changed it so that both of my beers were opened by them right there. Dammit to hell. Forced double fisting. I got my pizza slice for John then went back over there. Still barely able to walk. My legs were junk. Ow. I asked John to take a pic of me for the beer page, but as usual, he likes to take a bunch before I can grab the phone out of his hand. This time was super funny because I couldn't get up. So how about another montage of me trying to get up on dead legs.

Oops fell back down

And you thought this post was lacking in its usual selfie numbers!! After this, John and I ventured over to the aR and Six03 tents where I enjoyed talking to Karen and Chris Dunn for awhile. I saw Richie Blake, too, who snapped a pic of John and me. I was in need of food before I finished my beers so I made my way to the food line, then hung out with John in our camping spot.

Standing in the mud where the results and awards were

My award. Plus $50 to LL Bean. Now, I can buy that rain jacket I wanted.
The results were kind of messed up since a woman who dropped out around mile 6 or so decided to run through the finish ahead of 1st overall, then didn't tell them she hadn't done the whole race. It ended up being my word against hers with the timers, but after talking to the RD, the timers ruled in my favor and the results were fixed. John and I were out of there as soon as I got my award. 

Unfortunately, I would end up getting really sick just before we left. I had to make 4 pit stops on the way home. TMI, sorry. Haha. But it was bad. Pretty normal for me after a long distance, hard effort, but I wasn't expecting it today until I realized that 15.5 miles is now long distance for me. Haha. Once we got home, I felt a little better so we attempted to take the dogs on a walk, but my stomach cramping up again combined with extreme bug hell had us turning around quickly. I couldn't tolerate either. And John was being swarmed, too. FAIL. After a shower, I could do nothing but just sit on the chaise lounge the rest of the night. As has become tradition on this day every year, I ate a pint of ice cream. It seems to be the only thing I can digest which seems totally off the mark due to so much dairy, but it seriously works every time. I tried to have a porter, too, but it was difficult to get down. I felt much better, though, by the time I went to bed. I was beat to shit. All I could hope at that point was that I would recover in time for Cranmore. I'm sure I will even though it's Wednesday now, and my stomach is still funky and my legs really sore! 😡

So a fairly successful weekend for me overall, but it was still too much, especially with having to take it easy for 2 months. I don't regret doing it, though. In a weird way, it makes me feel really good to get to this point physically. When you've given everything you have, and your body is tired and sore. Now, it's time to see what I can muster up for Cranmore! Eek!