Monday, May 8, 2017

2017 Sleepy Hollow Mountain Race

Flat Scott!
Sleepy Hollow was finally here. I was excited to be back because I love the course, and this would be my 5th year running it. I was also feeling a little nervous.You never know who is going to show up here, and there were a lot of names on the entry list that I didn't recognize. I kept thinking how bad it was going to be and hoped I wouldn't be disappointed with a 4th or 5th place finish. I was expecting it not to go well, so that at least helped me come into it with a whatever happens, happens attitude.

I love the noon start since it means not dragging John over the day before. Instead, I could get up at 6am and take my time before leaving at 7:30am. John slept the whole way. I stopped in Danville, VT at this market to get gas and see if they had any snacks. The place looks like a gas station market, but it's the real deal inside. I couldn't believe it when I saw they had my favorite Vermont food bars! The ones I've eaten before both Vermont City Marathons. I bought 3 of them and proceeded to eat most of one on the way there. Hmmmmm. Is that why I felt so good during these races? It is by the MAGIC Spoon Bakery. I have yet to not have a really good race after I've eaten one. And they ARE from Vermont. Haha.

The drive over took right around 3 hours as expected. I got there early since parking is tight, and I also hate rushing around pre-race. I stepped out of my car and into a huge family reunion. It was insane how many people I knew there. It was hard just getting my bib number. I didn't mind it because it's one of the things I LOVE about the mountain running community in New England, but it was crazy to see how many people I knew were there. There were people there I never even saw until well after the race because I was so busy chatting with others. I remember sitting in the parking lot having coffee at my car before the 2013 Sleepy Hollow when I didn't know anybody. I knew most of their names, but I didn't know them otherwise. From Leslie Beckwith, the nobody, to Leslie O'Dell, the somebody. I didn't intentionally reinvent myself, but, in effect, that's what I've done. And now here I am at Sleepy Hollow in 2017 surrounded by many acquaintances and friends. When I say somebody, I mean somebody who people know now. Not just some quiet girl over by her car drinking coffee afraid to utter a word.

So anyway, I got my bib then ran into Barbara McManus who was doing the Mountain Series for the first time. I had asked if she could bring me a medium singlet since I'm too fat now for the small. haha. What she handed me was not like my old singlet! This one was SO much nicer!! Different brand, much thinner, really light and comfortable. No wonder the people who've received singlets recently don't hate theirs. These are awesome! I'll probably wear it more often now, too!

John was happy to get out of the car and go up to the round house. He's been with me to every Sleepy Hollow except 2013, so he knows the place and likes the round house. Once he was settled, I went out for a warm up. I was really nervous as I walked out since I was anticipating a lot of hamstring pain as soon as I started running...but it didn't happen. I felt good. I ran up the first climb to the QOM/KOM to check out the course. Pulled one of my rude-runner-coming-up-from-behind on Emer O'Donahue and Fabienne Pattison, by yelling in a mean tone, "Get out of the way!" I always love those initial shocked looks as they turnaround. That's as long as I last before busting out laughing. haha. I walked with them a short ways, then went on. The course was surprisingly MUCH drier than last year, but still wet in spots. I was able to get an idea on what side of the trail to stick to on the way up. I ran back down via the course at mile 4. 1.8 miles total. Felt really good.

Now, I was really nervous since I'm thinking I might stand a chance. The key, I learned, was DO NOT go out fast on the first climb. For some reason, this race always goes out way too fast. I don't know if it's the King/Queen of the Mountain thing, but the times I didn't know better and tried to keep up ruined me for the rest of the race. I won Queen of the Mountain in 2015, but I had no competition and was in great shape that year. This year, I was going to hang back and not even try for QOM.

I lined up with Sarah Canney at the start. In front of us, I could see Jamie Woolsey lined up next to Tim, and then I spotted this really young, fast-looking girl. I had no idea who she was, but I had a feeling she was going to smoke me. That was part true. It was getting cold standing at the start so I was ready to get moving. Kasie finally sent us on our way, and, as always, it was a super fast start. I watched the young girl take off way ahead quickly; I assumed at this point that she already had the win tied up. She was almost completely out of view by the first curve! Jamie had ended up next to me right after the start and slowly moved on ahead. She didn't get much distance on me, and it looked like she was actually running easy as well on this first climb. Right after Jamie passed me, another girl I didn't know passed me. I didn't care. I knew what I was doing here. I kept my pace comfortable until we hit the single track where it leveled off a bit and people started running cautiously. I actually picked up the pace through here because it was easy running for me and passed a lot of people, including one of the women who had passed me. Once back on wider steeper slope, I slowed back down. We were almost to the top of the climb, and I was nearly drooling in excitement at the downhill just around the corner. I came through the first climb as 4th woman. Less than 30 seconds later, I was 2nd woman. Haha. I passed the girl I didn't know (I would later learn was Amelia Ortiz) and Jamie very quickly. I also passed a lot of the men. I knew a large number of them would pass me back on the climb, but the downhill is my strength, so I had to go all out on all of them.

4th woman at the top of the first climb. Photo by Jess Cover
I love this downhill. It's long so it gives me a lot of time to gain some ground. I go completely all out here. I have no fear on downs like this one. Slippery, wet rock slabs would be different, but dirt, there's no holding back. At the top of the downhill, the first woman wasn't even in sight. By the bottom of the hill, she was only 50 yards in front of me. The course continues on a fun flat, wide trail here for awhile before more downhills and the the LONG climb back up the mountain. This climb used to be hard enough. It was so long, and I think I powerhiked it in 2013 and 2014. Now it doesn't continue straight to the top, but instead veers left to the hit the Darth Vader Trails. I was surprised toward the end of the steep climb that I had caught up with the first woman. I never catch people on the climbs. It's almost always the downhills. So this was interesting. I was literally right behind her trying to figure out what to do. Hold back and wait or pass her now. I decided to just wait a little bit and pass her at the switchbacks so that I could keep an eye on her easily as we climbed. Sure enough, she slowed way up and I had no problem going by her. Now I could see who was back there for awhile. I was surprised to see Amelia Ortiz still pretty close. Both she and the girl I had just passed never really slowed much on this climb for me to feel comfortable with my lead so I continued to push myself.

The last section is maybe 20 yards of really steep climbing to get back up to where the KOM/QOM is, and I powerhiked this short section. I had powerhiked it last year and decided this grade was just enough that a power hike would be faster than running. I was feeling that climb when we started the next long decent back to the field. Most of this is a very wide road with easy footing and few climbs thrown in there. I busted this section out as fast as I could hoping to gain more of a lead on the two women. I was actually almost completely alone for this entire stretch. I saw Josh Fields taking photos on one downhill and yelled out, "Watch the bouncing skin, Josh!" And laughed. He caught that on camera and NO bouncing skin. Now, THAT is some skill with me and downhills. Haha.

The course was drier, but it wasn't dry. Notice the mud I'm running around.
I kept running hard through here and when I got down to the field, I ditched my gloves. I was way too hot. As I passed the field I rounded the corner and did the look back and saw no one. As turned forward, I saw Paul Kirsch there and he commented on my look back. So just to be funny I did another fake, exaggerated one. Then I saw Joe Viger. Haha. I started busting out laughing saying how I hoped he didn't get a shot of that. And hence, another photo where I'm laughing.

I caught up with the guy in front of me, but let him go ahead on the next climb. This climb is steeper than the rest, but also pretty short. I thought I had a good enough lead that I didn't really push myself; I had started to slightly feel my hamstrings around mile 4 and didn't want to push too hard here if I didn't have to. I knew that with my lead, I'd have the race in the bag with the last downhill. I stayed right behind the guy in front of me, and then this amazing little kid caught up to us. He ran an awesome race. He passed me so easily and ended up out of sight on the downhill. Wow. And the second kid to beat me in two weeks. Haha. As soon as we hit the downhill, I went ahead of the guy I had been behind and just flew down wide slope as fast as I could. I caught up to and passed another guy just before the trail climbed up again to the finish. I did one more look back and saw no one. I was taking the win. Just as I got near the top of the hill, Carolyn Shreck was turning to start her third climb. She held out her hand, and we had a perfect hand slap! I usually miss and look stupid, but we were both right on the money. Joe Viger was right there snapping photos, but he must not have gotten a good shot in time. I'm so bummed. That would have been great. Up on the hill I could see a huge group of the guys watching and heard Matt Veiga say something about me thinking about that post-race beer. Haha. I said something in agreement and then ran on through the finish. 1st woman. 33rd overall. 52:40. A new course record by 4 seconds, and almost 2 minutes faster than 2016. I was shocked. I couldn't believe how good I felt! Best I've felt in over 2 months. Full Results

Brandon Newbould met me at the finish, and we talked about the race. He was first overall, and it was interesting to learn he had the same strategy I did with the first climb. Hold back and not go for KOM. He was 3rd at the top. Congrats to him on a pretty awesome race.

Back at the round house, I met up with Matt Howard who had brought me Dirty Girl IPA from the Abandoned Building Brewery in Mass. I almost called off the beer exchange when Matt said he had a 4-pack but drank two the night before! Haha.

Back at the car, Matt shared with me his new weekly trail run from the brewery to Mt Tom and his future plan to host a race in the area. If any of you are in the Easthampton, Ma area on a Thursday evening, check out this group run. I would if I were closer. Looks like a good time to me!

I took Spot and Phoenix for a really short stroll up the trails then met Brightman back in the parking lot for beer exchange #2. I finally realized that I'm unable to hold more than two beers at a time whether sober or drunk. As per my usual, I dropped and smashed a can, puncturing a hole. Haha. I held the can up to mouth while I waited for Steve to come to my rescue with a water bottle. Haha. Then it was time for a photo with Flat Scott Mason.

Scott was bummed to miss Sleepy Hollow this year, so the night before I made a Flat Scott to join us. Found a pic with a Heady Topper in hand and knew immediately that was the right choice. Amanda Watters took him out on the course during the race, and then he drank beers with us.

With beers in hand, Steve and I made our way back up to the crowd. Wow. So many people to talk to! I didn't even get a chance to talk to everyone. I did talk to Jamie Woolsey who felt unwell during the race and being attended to in the "med tent". She was doing ok. Then I spent some time chatting with our team manager for Hoka One One New England, Jack Pilla​, and his wife, Kristen. I had to explain why I wasn't wearing Hoka's! When it comes to technical, the Speed Instincts won't cut it, so I wore my La Sportiva's. If I ever receive a pair of the Challengers or Speed Goats, I'll give them a whirl, but until then, anything technical will be La Sportiva's. He gave a super awesome hat, though. ;)

Kristen Lundy, me and Jack Pilla
We stayed for awards. So funny. More maple syrup! I'm still working on the gallon from two years ago. The half gallon from last year sits unopened. I've given away some of my other bottles. Hard to believe I ever paid for maple syrup! Haha

Top 3 women overall
After I was finally able to stop gabbing with people, we drove to Montpellier to meet up with Fabienne, Brightman, Rachel Flaksman and her son and a Tuesday Night Turtle I'd never met, John Peabody. Flat Scott had quite a few beers.

After we left, it was time for beer exchange #3. I left Vermont with double the amount of beer I had arrived with.

The ride home wasn't too painful. Saw a beautiful black bear in Franconia Notch. I was stoked to be going home with another win. This will probably be my only win in the Mountain Series this year, so it felt good. Too much competition at the rest, coupled with the hamstring thing, will put me out of the running for the win. Skipping Pack Monadnock the following weekend will put me further behind in the standings, but oh well. I'll just have to see how the year pans out. Not feeling as optimistic as I was. Even feeling slightly bummed out now which is a change from a week ago, but I'll just keep on trying to do my best.

Thought I'd end this with one last view at my TOTALLY AWESOME new hat. :)

1 comment:

  1. Excellent!! Congratulations! So good to hear you happy and excited, giddy almost!