Waterville Valley 2019

Waterville Valley 2019

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

2017 Run 4 Kerri

Run 4 Kerri finish
Since I'm so far behind on my blog, I'm going to attempt to speed through most of the week stuff and get on to the weekend in Rhode Island. I can't remember much anyway since I'm weeks off of this stuff. 52.5 miles for the week. 5,430ft of elevation gain. Just shy of 8 hours on my feet. Upper body and abs took a backseat this week with only 2 5-minute ab workouts and one 5-minute upper body workout.

Monday, July 31, 2017- No run. Walked a mile outside at work. Picked a bunch of blueberries. 911 call cut it short. Too hot and not motivated to go back out after we got back.

Dinner at work. Pretty much a perfect reflection of my life. Eating right out of the pan because who cares.
Tuesday, August 1, 2017- How is it August 1st already?? Wtf. Even John already realizes time is flying by. I mentioned we wouldn't be able to go to Whale's Tale this year. His reply, "Good thing we already went this year." Haha. Had to tell him that was a year ago. Things haven't changed much in a year, though. Starting to notice I do the same runs every year almost on the same day. First time since I graduated college that I've settled into such a predictable routine. It's also the longest I've stayed in one place since 1998. Kind of freaking me out. I daydream of leaving every day. Not necessarily permanently, but just going somewhere else for a month or so.

Anywho. Can you believe it?? Not much sleep because the exact same 911 call from the middle of the night the week before happened again. Same person, same reason. This time, the person was oriented and was able to refuse transport, so it wasn't as long of a night, but then multiple tones for a Wakefield 911 kept me up for probably an hour. I had a few good hours of sleep, though, and woke up ready for my run.

Hadn't done a run from work up to Washington Hill in awhile so I opted for that. Despite my foot (plantar fasciitis) fucking killing me, I still had a decent run. Nowhere as fast as past runs, but I'm not in that shape and have accepted it. This run is almost flat for the first 4 and last 4, with a lot of climbing and downhill in the middle 5. I ran down 41 to 113 then up High St following it to Washington Hill and back to 113 to make a loop back to 41. Miles 5-7 and 9 are total bitches, but I made up for the slow pace with the downhills. Managed to actually run the last 4 almost exactly the same as the first 4, which is good for the positive split queen that I am. Haha. 13.3 miles in 1:37:22. 7:19/mi avg pace. 819ft of elevation gain.

I had some coffee and food when I got home. John and his friend, Dylan, were here still. The sleepover continued for 2 nights. Haha. I didn't mind at all. It's great when kids are older and have friends over. After eating, I opted out of my upper body workout to finally help out my friend and neighbor who has breast cancer. I debated posting this here because I don't want to be one of those people who only helps someone out to make themselves look good, but since it's my blog and not Facebook or, my nemesis, Instagram, I decided to post. She just needed help with her dog who was in dire need of exercise. I felt badly that I hadn't been able to help her out with him as I promised, so I made time today. The poor dog needed it so badly. He chewed his leash apart before we even left her house. Haha. I brought him home so that I could walk him up Heavenly Hill with Spot and Phoenix. (Chill is unneutered and is a total asshole with other male dogs.) Sweet Elroy is young and wanted to play with Spot and Phoenix. Spot wasn't having it so she turned around and went home. Phoenix wasn't pleased either since he kept trying to play, but I made her come anyway. I let Elroy off leash and he was in heaven. (Heavenly Hill!) He ran and ran and then played in the water on the way down.

Elroy and Phoenix

Elroy on Heavenly Hill
I took him home right after. My friend messaged me later on to let me know he was so calm all day. That was great to hear. I wish I had the time to help out more.

After the dog walk, I took Dylan and John to Conway Lake to swim. There was this group of kids probably only a year older than them there that just gave me the worst vibe. Just kids you know will be pieces of shit. It was so interesting to watch these kids that horrified me and then see the sweet innocence of John and Dylan playing in the water. I know that won't last, but these other kids, I can't even pinpoint it, but if they horrified ME, then you know something is off. Just a bad feeling in my gut. Other kids who knew them showed up at one point and were staying away from them. I heard them say they went to the same elementary school as Dylan, so I asked if he knew who they were. He said he did. I told him to stay away from them; there's something very wrong there. I can feel it. Just bad news all around.

We went to Whitaker Woods after the lake for the final race of the Series. I was pretty beat from the morning's run and thankful for no competition for once. I ran it nice and easy in 22:31. My slowest time for the Series, but it felt good. Haha. John didn't want to go to ninja that night so I actually hung out after and socialized a bit. Afterward, we hit Taco Tuesday for takeout and then took Dylan home. The day really flew by, as Tuesday always does.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017- Couldn't get up to run. Too tired. Ended up doing a 3-mile trail run out back of the base. Lucked out with no 911 calls during the run. My foot was actually bothering me less today than the day before, so that was good. Still slow at an 8:13/mi avg pace, but like I said before, Wednesday runs are basically just getting something in.

911 calls were steady with one right smack dab in the middle of the night. Fortunately, in North Conway, calls last about an hour total, as opposed to Tamworth when it is a minimum of 2 hours, so I got some sleep after we got back.

Thursday, August 3, 2017- I had a busy day ahead of me, so I opted to run Chocorua. Less miles but still getting in a mountain run. I drove right by my house and on to the Piper Trailhead, less than 10 minutes away. I pulled into a nearly empty parking lot which was nice. I changed clothes, then headed up the Piper Trail. It was warming up quickly, but I got out early enough to beat most of the heat. The run up was good. I would only make it up there in my 3rd fastest time, but that's ok, since I really didn't care that much. Once at the top, the air was stifling. No breeze, no nothing. Hazy skies. Bugs were biting me so I didn't stay up there long.

I ran back down the Piper Trail, which I rarely do, but I was in kind of a hurry and needed to get home. I ran into hoards of people on their way up. Luckily I had had the summit to myself. 7.8 miles total. 1:58:37. 2,745ft of elevation gain.

Rushed home to shower and make a tuna pasta salad for the I'll Be Dipped Prediction run later that night. I love tuna pasta salad. Weird I know. Haha. My main reason for rushing was my 2pm 90 minute deep tissue massage with Tina in Dover. So you may be saying, "Wait a minute. I thought you had no money." Well, you're right. I had sent Tina a message 2 weeks prior just to let her know why I hadn't been to see her in awhile. I didn't want her to think I wasn't happy with her service. Just mentioned I was planning to get a second job hopefully in late August or early September and that I would be back. Tina insisted I come in. She said to bring her Tuckerman beer and some local squash in exchange. I don't do this often, but I burst into tears and cried for 10 minutes. I felt like I didn't deserve her kindness since my financial situation is my own fault so for her to continually insist made me cry longer. Some people are just the most giving. Tina Carr is one of those people. Not only is she a fabulous massage therapist (I travel 1.5 hours to see her!), she has the best heart. So, I rushed down to Dover and had a wonderful, so needed, deep tissue massage. My PF needed to be worked on so badly, and the glutes and hamstrings. Everything! My back! The craziest thing was that she working on an area near my shoulder and said, "I need to check your diaphragm." She's never checked my diaphragm, and it was the craziest thing. She found a spot in my diaphragm just below my right rib cage that I never would have thought to mention. Ever since John was born, I will sometimes bend over to tie my shoes, get dressed, etc and my diaphragm does this funky thing where it folds under my rib cage. I can't even describe how crazy it is, but she found this spot without me saying anything and could feel it. So awesome. And a good indicator that she knows her stuff. I walked out of there feeling like a million bucks! Amazing.

As soon as the massage was over, I drove right home to grab my tuna salad and drive over to Dave and Kerry Oedel's house on Silver Lake for the I'll Be Dipped Prediction run they host for the White Mountain Milers every August. It's a 3 mile out and back on Lead Mine Rd. I hadn't had time to eat any food and showed up with 7 minutes to spare. As soon as I parked my blood sugar dropped suddenly. I was shaking, pouring in sweat and nauseous. I got out of my car and immediately ran into Tim Livingston. I told him not to let them start without me, that I needed to run inside and grab some sort of sugary food. I could barely hold the pasta salad or speak clearly, but I got inside and grabbed a brownie off the bar. Shoved it in my face and walked back out towards the start of the run. Fortunately, this always works quickly, so I felt better. I was even happier that I had already planned to run slowly for this. I didn't want to mess up anything from the massage so I put down a prediction time of 24:10. No watches are allowed, but since I still want to record my time, I had Terry Ballou witness me start my Strava app ahead of time and turn my phone backwards in the arm sleeve. Haha.

We started the run, and I just went off easy. I felt like I was going insanely slow and found myself behind a bunch of high school girls. That wasn't easy to handle haha, but I stayed true to my plan to run easy. I assumed I was running slower than predicted, but I ended up 22 seconds faster in 23:48. Haha. Not a bad prediction, but Melissa and Darin Brown would end up winning by predicting their times within just a few seconds.

After the run, a bunch of us swam in the lake and then it was time for the food! I was starving and ate like two dinners and three desserts. Haha. Terry Ballou brought beers to share so I obliged and had a few of hers. We hung out by the fire awhile and watched the lightning off in the distance. For our hosts, Dave and Kerry, it's their last hoorah before going back to Georgia. Silver Lake is only their summer home, but I know them better than I know a lot of year round people here. Such a nice family. They've always been so kind to me and always inquire if I'm dating anyone yet. Haha. Sadly, for the third year in a row, I've had to report no. Hahaha. I'm good with it, and I always answer with a chuckle. After this much time, I'm pretty sure I never will be dating anyone (I don't even know what that is). I've gotten too set in my ways and, like I said before, way too picky. Haha. Maybe they won't ask next year. :)

People actually ate my tuna pasta. Haha.
Friday, August 4, 2017- This was going to be mostly a day of driving to Rhode Island, but I got up and took the dogs on a nice and easy trail run in the Bolles Preserve. As we were running, I started thinking about how I've never run into a single person while running here ever. Soo.....literally 2 minutes later, I ran into 3 guys hiking. Hahaha. Other than that it was quiet as always. 5.8 miles still with decent elevation at 969ft and just over an hour of running. It really is one of the sweet spots around here that isn't teeming with out-of-towners, although I'm sure it's just a matter of time before the newspaper writes about it and they all flock to it... all at once, since that's what sheeple do.

On our way to the run

A lot of the trail isn't maintained. This is actually the trail. You can barely make out Phoenix who is on the trail. Haha.
After the run, I quickly got in a 5 minute ab workout then started loading up the car for our full weekend of camping at Burlingame Campground in Charlestown, RI. The campground has over 700 sites and was completely sold out. How I managed to book the exact same site as last year, I'll never know. It is literally one of the best campsites in the whole place! It was going to be a long drive for us, though, especially since we didn't get on the road until after 2pm. We hit traffic in a few places on 495 and finally got to Burlingame close to 7pm. I was glad we bought dinner at Irving on the way down. Haha. I made John take a walk to the pond by himself while I set up the tent then we just hung out at the campsite for the rest of the night. We had an early morning for race #1 of the weekend. The Henseler Kayak Race in Wickford.

Breaking the rules

I love this thing! 
Saturday, August 5, 2017- 2017 Suzanne M. Henseler Foundation Kayak and Paddleboard Race-

Woke up to very dark skies with the forecast calling for heavy rain and thunderstorms. The kayak race was iffy, but they posted that they would make the call by 7am. Fortunately, the thunderstorms looked like they were holding off until after noon, so the race was a go. The drive up to Wickford was easy. No traffic this time of the morning on a Saturday. Although, I've stopped off at this exit on Rt 4 many times, I've never gone past the shopping center to the water. Wickford Harbor ended up being really nice!

I parked and walked over to check-in. First person I see is someone I know, Mike from 3C Race Productions who was there doing the timing. I guess he times a lot of Rhode Island races, but he was wondering what the hell I was doing there. Haha. I told him I was doing Run 4 Kerri and decided to do this kayak race, too. I walked back to the car to unload my kayak. Seeing all of the people with paddleboards (SUPs) really made me wish I was doing that division instead. I would much rather stand than sit, but my kayak is all I have, so kayak race it was. I got John out of the car and set him up by the water so that he wouldn't be in the parking lot alone. He had his bagel with cream cheese and hot chocolate that I made before leaving the campsite so he was all set.

Getting ready to start
There was a pre-race briefing and then we all put our boats in the water. Looking around, it looked like there were only two of us women in the 6-mile kayak race, and, yes, you guessed it (you probably didn't) (or maybe you did), an older woman in a racing kayak! Of course. She also had a scoop paddle. Yep, I was coming in second today. Or should I say LAST since there were only two of us. Haha. Granted, her racing boat was not top of the line, but it was still a racing boat nonetheless. And the scoop paddle. Why I didn't think to rent one of those is beyond me. If I do another race, I'm renting a scoop paddle. Oh wait. Just looked it up and realized they're actually called wing paddles. Wing paddles increase each stroke's efficiency by 5-10% over a standard paddle like mine, so just the paddle alone made a huge difference. The biggest difference was obviously the boat, though.

My paddle is the second one down. The blue paddle is a wing (scooped) paddle.
We started right into a head wind, and my competitor was ahead of me within seconds. I found that in the headwind, she gained an extreme amount of time over me, and much of the way out (the first 3 miles) were into a strong headwind. By the time we turned around, she was 3-4 minutes ahead of me. I have to say the dude that passed me on the paddleboard was pretty impressive. That is NOT easy. It's a lot harder to stay straight in a paddleboard which means digging hard on one side then switching to the other. He was really working hard when he passed me in the headwind before we paddled into the marina. What wasn't impressive was the guy who passed me in a racing kayak like the ones at my previous race. He wasn't even putting in any effort at all. Kind of pissed me off. Haha.

At this point, we started catching up to the slower SUPs in the 2.5 mile race so it was a bit crowded with two way traffic. We fought the headwind all the way to the turnaround. It was a nice break in the tailwind, but I decided to pick up my paddling pace and try to narrow the gap on the woman in the racing kayak. She was pretty far ahead to where I could only make her out by the bright color of her life jacket. (Speaking of, I think I was one of the few not wearing a life jacket; I had it on my boat, but not on me.) With the tailwind now, I decided to really paddle hard and narrow the gap. And when I say paddle hard, I mean, I was out of breath and my muscles were burning. As we got to a turnaround, I realized I was actually gaining on her. Since the turnaround made her more visible, I could see she was also putting in little effort and paddling just behind the guy in the racing boat. WTF. Meanwhile, I'm struggling. With 1 miles to go, the rain started to fall, but it actually felt great. As we rounded the next roundabout and headed towards the last island, I figured I had closed the gap by about 2 minutes. I rounded the island and with the finish in view, I actually was close enough to see her finish. By the finish, I would finish under 2 minutes behind her. 1:11:52 to her 1:10:00. I was damn happy with that considering the hard effort I put in for the second half of the race. I was no match for a racing kayak, but if it had been another mile, I just might have caught her. 6 miles of racing in a kayak was the most I've ever done, and my neck, arms and abs could really feel it. My arms were even shaking a little after, and my neck was so sore the next morning. Full Results

Goddamn medals. Haha.
All in all it was a great time. I got over being beaten by a racing kayaking at the last race, thank goodness, so I was really happy with my race. I would love to go back next year with a rented paddleboard and do the 6 mile race. If it falls on the same weekend as Run 4 Kerri again, I probably will. It was a very well-organized event, and the people were really nice.

John had gone back to the car once it started raining, and it ended up downpouring during the awards. I considered going to the after party at some seafood place, but it was just chowder, an unknown beer AND it was outdoors. Instead, I followed through on my promise to John to take him to a coffee shop and let him use his computer for 2 hours. Our plans for a beach day had been thwarted by the rain, so I figured why not. I found what seemed to be the coolest coffee shop near Burlingame, Dave's Coffee. It did not disappoint. This place was awesome. The food, the coffee and the atmosphere. Top notch, and the crowds proved it. The only downside was a group of other patrons who were talking SO loudly about their privileged lives that I wanted to vomit. I got to hear about the upcoming trip to Nicaragua. "It's what Costa Rica used to be. It's so much safer." Yeah, tell that to my friend and former co-worker whose sister was murdered in Nicaragua in 2014. I think this woman should get her head out of the sand, stopping bragging loudly enough for everyone to hear in a coffee shop and read this: What Can Women Travelers Learn from the Death of Karen Colclough. After hearing about that, I had to listen to the dramatic failed attempt at summiting Mt Hood. Her tablemates were hanging on every word. Glad someone found it interesting. I was wishing I had ear plugs. When I say loud, I mean over the top loud in a very small room. It was almost chaotic. I don't even know how better to describe it. When they left after over an hour, the silence of the room was a welcome thing and the room seemed to brighten....well, it did brighten, in fact. The rain had stopped and the sun was peaking through the clouds! Time to get John to the ocean after all!

It was a struggle to get him out of there, but I said two hours was far more than enough time on his computer. I had found a free beach in Matunuk that promised some of the best waves in the area. That's John's thing, but he still wasn't enthused. It was complain city for the drive over there, and I started to do my hand like it was talking every time he complained. Haha. It did actually get him to laugh at least. Took me 15 minutes to get him out of the car with him grumbling that he didn't see any waves when we drove in to Deep Hole Beach. Haha. Yeah, the kid walked out into the water and didn't come out for over an hour later. Waves were as promised. Mostly a rocky beach there, but I took turns standing and sitting on a log while I kept my eyes glued on John. The water was so shallow here, that he was WAY out there in the waves. I'll admit I was a bit uncomfortable because he was just a speck in my vision, but the water was only waist deep on him out there, and he's pretty experienced in the waves. I had a low level of anxiety the entire time he was out there. Haha.

Despite dark skies, the sun did come out eventually.

You can just make out the John speck, and that's zoomed in.
He admitted that the waves were really fun which was great to hear. He was also worn out. Another plus! Yay! I stopped at the small market there in Matunuk and nearly froze to death from the A/C. Omg. I've been in freezing grocery stores before, but this one took the cake. Seriously, I was speeding through there to get the hell out. Grabbed John a drink, some chips and salsa and some meatballs. Haha. Then it was back to the campground. I stopped at the bath house where I waited for John to shower and then went back to the campsite. The sun had come out and the temps were really nice, but the humidity had gotten pretty high. I had been sitting for far too long so I needed to get out for a short run to loosen up my legs. I ran through the campground and onto the trails thinking I wouldn't have a problem following the Brrr-lingame race course, but instead I ended up on the L'il Rhody race course. Hahaha. I wasn't out there long. I felt extremely drained and the legs were like lead. I almost wanted to pass out, seriously. It was a struggle to even finish the run. I did get to see an owl out there to make it worth my while, though. 4.1 miles in 37:02. Nearly a 9-minute pace. Haha.

As soon as I got back to the campsite, I went right for a non-stealth beer to cool me off. I felt nauseous from the run, and this definitely cooled me off.

I took a shower after that and realized that site 402 was by far the BEST site in the park. I already attempted to book it for next year since Friday and Saturday are available, but it's back at its 4-night minimum! Grr! This changes by the end of June when it's all of a sudden a 2-night minimum unless you can find a site with only one open night in between reservations. Then you can just book one night. I figured out their game this year, and that's how I only had to pay for the 2-nights. Just sucks because you have to wait and possibly end up with a crappy site. And there are many crappy sites in that park. Haha.

After I showered I got to making us our usual spaghetti for dinner. I ran out of stove fuel when the noodles were almost done, so I just had to let them sit in the pot for a few minutes. This meant I couldn't make coffee or hot chocolate in the morning, though. Boo. I was so hungry and hoped I could refuel enough to feel better for Run 4 Kerri than I did on this afternoon's run. I didn't know what to expect really since I'm in terrible road shape. After dinner, I sat at the table for awhile, and John went back to the car where he was camping. I slept pretty well.

Sunday, August 6, 2017- Run 4 Kerri 4-Mile Road Race-

I got up around 6am so that I would have time to get dressed, eat and then take down the tent. I had gotten John something for breakfast so that he was all set. Unfortunately, coffee and hot chocolate would have to come from Dunkin' Donuts, the only place on the way to Matunuk Elementary for the race. Looked like we were set to leave right on time, but my car battery had other plans. I went to turn the key...and it was dead. Um. Shit. I figured this was a common occurrence so I called the office, and sure enough, they'd be right down. And they were! Like 6 really young park rangers. I guess they were wanting something to do. They were nice and actually did the whole thing for me even though I was told over the phone they could only bring me the jumper cables and vehicle, but I would have to do it myself. Worked for me. Started right up, and we were out of there only 10 minutes later than planned.

I pulled off the highway at Dunkin' Donuts and was shocked to find that good service at DDs does exist. Up here, they are a laughing stock. Like seriously, it's known here just how bad the service is at all but the North Conway DDs. I couldn't believe how quickly I got my CORRECT order, even after being in a line. Wow. Continued on to the school and was still one of the first few cars in the lot. Scott Mason had gotten there before me. I talked to him and Scott Bessette, the race director and Kerri's brother. I had to thank Scott once again for having me as part of the elite field. I think I said last year that I really loved being a part of this race, and the same goes for this year. Scott, along with his family and many volunteers, put a great race here in honor of Kerri. I think part of it is the small town atmosphere and the family feel of the race. Everyone is so friendly, even the competition is like a small family that I'm kind of an outsider in, but funny, how much better I knew a lot of those other runners in the elite room this year.

I brought John in the elite room so he would have a place to hang out and charge his phone. Haha. There weren't too many people in the room before I headed out for my warm up. I think just Dave Principe and a younger girl I didn't know. I decided to do a full 3-mile warm up which brought me right into the Deep Hole Beach parking lot. Kind of funny that this was exactly 1.5 miles from the school. The weather was amazing. Dry and fairly cool. MUCH cooler than last year. I was hoping that would help me not embarrass myself too much. I honestly didn't expect to run under 25 minutes this year. I didn't feel I was in shape for that. I ran a 24:34 last year and even that was a terrible time for me then, but it was SO HOT. I remember expecting to break 24 last year, and I honestly think I would have had the temperature been cooler and had I paced myself better. This year, I knew the course better, even though, there was a lot I didn't remember, but I felt I knew how to run somewhat smarter. Still didn't expect much out of myself.

After the warm up, I went back to the elite room that was now filled with the other runners. It was nice to see so many familiar faces. I was hoping to avoid Ibuprofen for this, but my neck was in agony from the kayak race. Oops. I had felt pretty good otherwise on the warm up so that was a good sign. I ended up walking to the start with Kaela O'Neil. Once we were up there, I stopped to chat with some people I knew, then who do I run into? The sandbagger himself, Matt Pelletier, pushing his extremely adorable 4 month old son in a stroller. Why a sandbagger? Because he said he was only going to run 7-min pace. Yeah, surrrrrre! Haha. I talked to him for a little bit. It was great to finally meet the little guy. Matt told me I was the first person they told (outside of close friends/family) that Jill was pregnant. I didn't know that, but I was probably the only jerk that pointed at Jill's belly and had the guts to ask after the Hartford Marathon. The worst part of that was being sworn to secrecy for two weeks! I had explicit instructions not to tell anyone on the Tuesday Night Turtles. Haha. That was so hard! Haha. It was really great to see him out there pushing Rowan. Rowan even had an elite bib and cute Puma shoes. I do recall Matt saying something that started with, "I won't beat you. If I beat you, then....." And it trailed off. Haha.

I moved up to the front-ish. There were a lot of fast looking women up there! Paige Ethier was there. I barely beat her last year and didn't think I could do that this year. I didn't know what kind of shape Renae Chicchinelli was in right now, but she looked fit. I knew Kaela would win by a landslide. Who were these younger girls who looked fast? I had no idea. I resigned myself to a poor finish. I stepped back in line a little...which was a mistake. As soon as we started I was stuck behind a bunch of little kids. I should have known better. Paige shot out way in front. I was like Damn! She would end up hitting the first mile before Kaela and go on to have a really good race. When I congratulated her at the finish she said, "I just pulled that out of my ass!" LOVE IT! Hahaha!

Anyway, I realized that I was right in 4th place for the women immediately. Kaela was almost next to me, so I made sure to stay behind her. She would go out at a wicked smart pace for the first mile. She quickly disappeared, though. After that, there was one of the young women from the elite room whom I didn't know. It looked like she was being paced by the older guy she had been in the room with. A coach/father maybe? I don't know. They were running a good pace that was difficult to keep up with, but I decided to use them to pull me along. I felt like I ran the first mile a lot smarter than last year. It's mostly downhill, so it was still fast at 5:58, but 10 seconds slower than last year. I was happy with that.

I still felt really good going into mile two. It's still slightly downhill or flat, so the pace stayed quick. The younger girl ahead (Lauren Scahill, I would learn later) put a little distance on me in this mile so I did my best to hang on. I remember dying when we hit mile 3 last year, so I was worried my pace was too quick, but I just felt really good and passed a few guys here hitting mile 2 in 6:04. Only 6 seconds off last year which made me a little nervous for mile 3 since it has a few climbs with a steep one right at the end of mile 3 where I died last year. Just past mile 3, Lauren all of a sudden slowed down as we started up the first incline. I decided to make a move and pass her. I was psyched to move into 3rd, but based on the breathing closing in on me from behind, I knew I was about to get passed by a woman. At about 3.75 miles, Marissa McPhillips blew past me. Now I was back in 4th. I still felt really good, though, as we approached the hill. Last year I struggled to make it up this, but this year it was nothing. Hit the 3rd mile in 6:16. 5 seconds slower than last year, which means I should have run this mile A LOT faster last year since I was in wicked good shape.

One mile to go, and I was so afraid of getting passed back by Lauren or another woman. I SO wanted to hold 4th place (where I finished last year)! Mile 4 last year was a struggle for me and I died running it in 6:26 pace. Terrible pacing. I felt like I had a lot more in me this go-round and was able to really push myself up the last hill. I was NOT going to get passed in this last mile! And that's when I heard it! It came from about 5 seconds behind me! "Way to go, dad!" NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! He's right behind me, isn't he? I turned to look and there was Matty P pushing Rowan and catching up to me fast. Matt yelled something along the lines of I'd better pick it up because he was coming for me. Haha. I was like, "Nooo!" Within seconds Matt was at my side! 7 min pace, huh? I should have known! Sandbagger. :) It was Matt, Rowan and me side-by-side down the hill.

RI Jeff Walker got a few photos of us just as Matt caught up to me.
Matt was egging me on, and I was laughing! I remember saying that Scott Mason is going to get a picture of this! I said, "If you beat me, I'll never live this down!" I remember Matt telling me to stop talking, so I just started laughing more. As we crossed the road and turned onto the school driveway for the run into the finish. Matt was still egging me on pushing me to run faster. "Oh, I just made a bad turn!" This just made me laugh harder, but I was actually running hard so that he wouldn't beat me! We crossed the line with the exact same gun time of 24:47.7, but with Rowan and Matt getting 29th and 30th places, respectively, over my 31st with a 24:42 over my 24:46 chip times! Haha! I have to say that was the most fun finish I've ever had in a race. When would I ever race Matt Pelletier across a finish, even though he was definitely holding back and could have beaten me easily?

A sleeping 4-month old beat me! Haha!
We gave each other a high-five after we finished. Matt looked like he had only warmed up while was bending over to catch my breath. 6:16 for that last mile, which I probably owe to Matt and Rowan. 10 seconds faster than last year! That was something to be super psyched with. And only 12 seconds slower than last year. I was shocked to break 25. I'd take it. I had to. This was something to be happy with. 4th place again, too!! 1st Master Female. Full Results.

I talked to a lot of people at the finish then went to the elite room to say hi to John and get ready for a cool down with the girls. Haha. This was the first time I'd met Claire Gadrow. I like her intense vibe and how she basically told us we were running 4 miles. Haha. The rest of us only wanted to run 2. This was a good group of women. Kaela, Claire, Renae, Nicole L'Etoile and me. Conversation was fun. Kaela and I would end up moving ahead of the others for the last two miles, and I really enjoyed this. We have had some similar stories in our adult lives with divorce, and I loved hearing her story on how she met her current husband. It was nice to hear how well things have worked out for her. This was the first time ever getting to know her really, and I thoroughly enjoyed the running and the conversation.

I was spent after the cool down and realized we only had about 10 minutes until awards. I took one last quick look at the raffle board after realizing I did actually have a bib number and realized I won something! Yay! It turned out to be an afghan made by one of the race volunteers!

I had John take a photo of me with it later that night
After I got the afghan, I hurried back inside the school to change.  A quick baby wipe bath, deodorant, a hat to cover my hair mess and nice dress made me feel much better and only took about 3 minutes. Haha. I told John I was going back out for awards, but he wanted to stay inside still. He was actually extremely content all day which was nice. No complaints about going to lunch after either, and he seemed to really have fun there. It was great. The awards didn't take too long. I won $150 this year which was awesome since I was now able to afford lunch for myself; I was only planning to buy John lunch and just have one beer and no food, but this gave me enough money to eat, too! Yay! I had money left over to pay gas, groceries and car insurance until I got paid again on Thursday. Super score. I also won another coffee mug like last year, but just realized I didn't take a photo of it.

It was right to Mews Tavern with the Tuesday Night Turtles and Michael Crutchley, my fellow outsider friend. Haha. Rachel Flaksman showed up for lunch and joined us at our end of the long table with Scott Mason and George Ross. And similar to last year, I was in stitches practically the whole time because George is so damn funny. Kind of sucked being at the long table since we couldn't really interact with everyone at the other end, but I think we lucked out with the best comedy show at our end. Haha. I had two good beers and a calzone. John had his favorite, a pulled pork sandwich.

Scott Mason on the other side of the lens. :)

Crutchley, George and Scott
We got out of town at a decent hour and didn't hit any traffic really for the drive home. John slept almost the entire way. I was happy to see the dogs when we got home. I miss them when they have to stay behind. I needed to get rid of the soreness so I took them on a bug-infested walk up Heavenly Hill. This time a year ago, I could hang out on Heavenly Hill with hardly a bug, but this year, the mosquitoes have been atrocious around dusk. The dogs did a lot of running so they were well taken care of. I finally hopped in the shower and got on the couch with my new afghan. John said he wanted it. Hahaha. No way. I told him I won that because I ran today and that if he wanted to win something in the raffle, he had to run next time. Pretty sure he'd rather give up the afghan. :)

I'm going to see War on Drugs in Boston on September 23rd, so I think I'll have a War on Drugs theme for my blog end songs until then. :)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

2017 Mansfield Double Up

Baldface Circle Trail
This was a much better week for me for the most part as far as feeling better. I still got little sleep Monday and Wednesday nights, unfortunately, but other than that, I didn't really feel fatigued. I did have some major issues with my plantar fasciitis (PF) all week, though, and it ended up hurting my race on Sunday, where I finished a frustrating 3rd female. The PF would just be the start for that one, followed by a fatal mistake that cost me the win by less than a minute when I stopped for over a minute in the last mile, but I'll get to that later. It was really the PF, though, that I suffered through on every downhill and slowed me down. It sucked to feel so strong otherwise but then have to step gingerly and move slower on the downs when those are normally my strength! Totally amazing race, though, and I loved every minute of it. The weather was absolutely perfect. You honestly couldn't get a more amazing day in New England the last weekend of July. More on the race at the end of the blog. So...far...away!! Haha.

Rounded out the week with 51.2 miles and 9,396ft of elevation gain. All of my runs were pretty good (even if painful) except the track workout on Friday...which was my worst track workout ever and probably a dumb idea to do two days before the Mansfield Double Up. Haha. Maybe I subconsciously sabotaged myself so I'd have a bag full of excuses. Don't get me wrong, I lost fair and square, but between the foot and a dumb decision, I'm really disappointed in myself, for my body failing me and my brain in its never-ending fog. Haha. I'm pretty sure I didn't have any drama this week to write about so I'll cut to the chase with the daily crap. So boring! I know! :)

Monday, July 24, 2017- As with every week, I set my alarm for 4:15am, shut it off and then slept until 5:15am. I need to face the fact that it's just never going to happen. I'm in denial every Sunday night, though. Haha. Work was surprisingly very slow...until the night time. Middle of the night call that just sets the week off on the wrong foot with sleep deprivation. And it doesn't help to have a family member who is absolutely clueless. (PSA- if you have any medical history and/or you're on any medications, have it ALL listed on a piece of paper (typed preferably) and in a handy location for emergency services. Your family members cannot be trusted to have any clue. If I hear the words, "I don't know," I'm not a happy camper.)

Got in a 2 mile walk on the treadmill during the day. Way too hot outside to walk in thick pants and a teflon-coated shirt in the sun. Lied down on my bed the rest of the time to avoid sitting and to rest my foot.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017- I've basically returned Tuesdays to a mid-length run on the road for the most part. Obviously not last week, but I did a road run on Friday instead. Like I said, my road speed was lacking so I decided to bump up the road stuff...against my better judgement. I left right from the base this morning. The weather was actually cool and cloudy which was a good thing because I brought dark-colored running clothes and had to opt for my cotton t-shirt instead. It was still too hot and drenched in sweat when I finished, but it was worth it to be visible on Ossipee Lake Rd. My PF was present, but not that bad, so I was able to run at a quick pace. This isn't an overly hilly run, but it's not flat either. Only came out to 332ft of elevation gain (which is flatish for me haha). I ran 11 miles, and the turnaround point was exactly at the Ossipee Lake Rd/Bennett Rd split. I ended up running the second half faster than the first which never happens, so I was pleased. 1:18:59. 7:11/mi avg pace. I did have to work harder than I used to for that pace, and I've run the full 15 mile on Ossipee Lake Rd much faster than that, so it looks good if you take it out of context. Still not bad, and, like I said, I was very happy with it, but it still makes me cringe to compare it to a previous run.

Right after I stopped my run. You can see the shirt I was wearing.

It was much prettier in person.
Got in my upper body and abs workout after I got home. John and I had errands to run and then we took the dogs on a walk on the Conway Rec Path. It was bug hell which is basically what this whole place is ALL SUMMER LONG, so we just walked to the bridge and back. When we got home, I had a few beers on my "new" table on the big deck. That's when I noticed the ice damage to my roof. It isn't really visible except from this vantage point so I didn't see it until now. It's the same damage we had repaired when we moved in so it's obviously a design flaw. The roof sucks since the previous owners did the work themselves and didn't make the pitch steep enough, and where two slopes meet, ice builds up all winter and just bent up all of the metal roofing in this spot. Not sure what to do about it because it almost seems pointless to replace the metal sheets again since it will be destroyed in 2-3 years. The entire roof design is really needs to be redone. I might have to hit up the mortgage company for another home improvement loan for this one since I can't afford to have it done out-of-pocket right now. We'll see.

The ever present audience

It was Tuesday so that meant Whitaker Woods! Haha. Yeah, I know. I had beer before every race. Plenty of time in between, though. My friend/teammate, Jen Graves, from CMS was vacationing with her family and asked if we had any group runs, so I told her about Whitaker Woods so they came to do this week's race. John became friends with her son, Andrew, when they worked the water stop at Wachusett together this year. I was bummed they wouldn't get to hang out since Andrew was doing the race and then we had to leave right after to get to ninja class.

I warmed up with a mile shuffle when we got there. I was really feeling the morning's run since I ran it pretty hard and hoped I could follow through on running slower tonight, but, of course, someone showed up that I had to compete with. I debated just letting her go and kept my pace on the slower side for the first mile as I ran close behind her. I SO didn't want to push any harder, but as soon as we hit the hill in the second mile, she was easy to pass. I kept the pace quick until the downhill when I coasted a bit, and then kept the pace quick again for the last flat section to the finish. Slower than my fastest times this summer, but still way too fast in 21:11 so really less than 20 seconds slower. Not what I wanted to run tonight because I was so beat, but competition always drives me to do stupid things. Haha.

As soon as I walked out of the finish line, I got water and walked to my car. John was at the playground with his friends so I snagged him, and we went to ninja class.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017- Totally beat from lack of sleep and from running hard for both runs on Tuesday kept me from dragging myself out of bed for an early morning run. And OW, my PF was on fire. Ugh. Decided to just bring clothes to run in at work and then shower after. I was working with Michelle again which was awesome since we have fun working together. Went shopping at Walmart haha. Browsed. Just fun girl things that I don't get to do with my male partners. I wish Michelle was still my Wednesday partner.

I did end up running on the trail out back. I intended 5 miles, but my foot just hurt way too much, and I had to stop at 3 miles. No sense in going on in such pain. I showered after. Not a crazy busy day. A few calls and then of course one overnight one. Ugh. No sleep!!

Thursday, July 27, 2017- It was nice having a Thursday when I had nowhere to be so I could take my time. The weather was iffy with storms predicted around noon, but I decided to make attempt #2 on my yearly Baldface Loop. I LOVE this loop because South and North Baldface are two of the best summits in the whites. They are never crowded, and you're above treeline for a long period of time on the ridge. It's just so beautiful. As I was leaving, a sad little face was watching me about to leave her behind again, and I just couldn't stand it, so I decided to bring Phoenix along. She actually ended up being really good without the other dogs around!

There was only one car in the lot when we got there, but of course two vans full of kids pulled in just as I got my shoes on! They were just going to Emerald Pool, but I didn't want to be caught in their group so I hurried Phoenix out of there before they started hiking. I actually felt great today (except my foot). The weather was cool so that helped. I took my usual route up by taking the Slippery Brook Trail up to the Baldface Knob Trail. I usually end up walking a lot of this towards the end where it's steep, but today, I felt good enough to run almost all of it and ran the last mile about a minute faster than last year. The rest was nearly the same. So the uphill felt good and didn't hurt my foot at all. Phoenix kept right up, too. When we got to Baldface Knob, the views were stunning. In and out of the clouds. Just amazing. I was so glad I chose this for today. We stopped a few times to pick blueberries on the last stretch up to South Baldface, then we took a good 5 minute break up there like I always do.

From here the trail goes downhill on the open ridge, and this is where I began to slow since my foot was hurting. It was still enjoyable, though, and all I had to do was slow it down and take it easy. I was relieved to hit the uphill to the top of North Baldface for a break on the foot and actually ran this uphill segment faster than I ever have. We stopped on the summit of North Baldface for a few minutes.

There was a lot of downhill from here on out so it was very easy going. Phoenix was needing water, and I knew of two small brooks coming up so I stopped at the first one, and she climbed right in and sat down. Haha.

Just as we hit the turnoff for the steep downhill on the Baldface Circle Trail, I got a text from Bryan asking if John could stay with me for the night so he could work. I had no plans whatsoever and just happened to be getting home in time for him to leave John so it worked out well. The rest of the run down wasn't too bad. The pain in my foot seemed to subside enough that I could move at a good clip. Phoenix started barking at one point as we ran so I knew we were going to catch up to someone soon and sure enough, we did. She was the only person we had seen up to this point. After we passed her, though, we began to run into the masses of people headed to Emerald Pool. Why people like to be in nature in huge crowds I'll never understand. They all smell of soap and one person was even smoking a cigarette while he walked on the trail. Thanks for that, buddy. How considerate of you! *sarcasm*
Finished up the 10.2 mile loop in 2:36:46 for moving time which is really slow for me, but I just can't bomb down the hills right now. 3,588ft of elevation gain.

The weather ended up being crappy the rest of the day so we didn't do anything. Lack of sleep caught up with me which kind of sucks for John when he's with me on some Thursdays. I'm usually like go, go, go, but if I haven't slept much in 4 or 5 days, I tend to use the second half of Thursday as a lazy bum on the couch. After my upper body and abs workout, that's pretty much what I did. I was beat. I did have a good beer to go with the cooler weather, though.

Friday, July 28, 2017- Not a good decision to hit the track this morning, but I'm really good at making bad decisions. Haha. I slept in late first, and then John went with Bryan for his usual half of Friday. I really wasn't feeling a trail run or a road run, so I think that's mainly why I chose the track for today, but it just ended up not going well. My foot did hurt the whole time, so I'm sure that was a factor, even though I tend to get more on the forefoot when I do a track workout. I wore my Hoka Hupana's to see how they would fair as track shoes. That could also have been a factor in the slower speed since I didn't have spikes, but I was too worried about the spikes really hurting my foot. Besides that, though, I felt very heavy and sluggish. Started with a 2 mile trail run on the Conway Rec Path to warm up. Also slow.

The original plan was 6x800, but I didn't want to do that and decided on 3x800, 3x400, 3x200. Don't ask. I just made it up. To sum it up my splits were I:suck, I:suck:more, I:suck:badly, etc. Haha. Ok, I guess I'll share my real times, even though they're embarrassing.
3x800- 3:01, 3:01, 3:03. Wish I could blame the neighbor backing out of his driveway for the last one.
3x400- 89, 89, 89. Slow, but at least consistent.
3x200- 40, 42, 43. I think the 200s got longer with each one. Only explanation for that. :)

Not to make an excuse, but the black top track is hot as balls in the sun.
Ran the two miles on the Conway Rec Path back to my car even slower. Just crumminess all around. I should never have done this workout to begin with, not only because I sucked, but because my plantar fasciitis was on fire after this.

I had to make time for kayaking so I drove over to Conway Lake right after the run to get in an hour of paddling. It was kind of hot without much wind so I was sweating. Just did an out-and-back on the lake for 3.3 miles. On the way back into the cove which is super narrow, I started to hear screaming near one of the docks so I looked over to see a water spout forming. WTF! There wasn't any wind out on the lake, so I was shocked to see this thing swirling around as it crossed the narrow cove. I have never seen anything like it, but the thing had ripped off the awning of the boat where I heard the screaming and then made its way across before slamming into a boat with a really loud exploding noise. It then hit the land and was gone! Only lasted less than 10 seconds, but it was wild! If I had been in that it would have flipped me over. I think we've all seen the wind get swirling mildly before with leaves or snow, but this was the biggest one I've ever seen and it got huge with water quickly. Had the cove not been so narrow that thing would have picked up and been a full on water spout in no time. I SO wish I had had my phone in my hand to get a video, but it was just the most insane thing to watch.

Kayaking pre-water spout
I went straight home after to find John already there. We went back to Conway Lake at the beach so John could swim for a few hours. It was really warm day so I got in a few times myself. Then it was off to the store to buy more food! Payday! Woohoo! Haha. We spent the rest of the evening at home since I was dragging John to camp again the next day in Vermont.

Saturday, July 29, 2017- Lazy morning. I got on the treadmill for 3 FLAT miles. With the Mansfield Double Up, I didn't want to do any hills this morning. The weather was beautiful outside so it kind of hurt to be on the treadmill. Well, it hurt in two ways, actually. My fucking foot was killing me. UGH. This made me super nervous about the next day's race. 3 miles in 21:58. Not too fast, but not too slow. Other than the foot, it felt good.

I woke John up so he'd have time to do John things before we left. I love the surprise, "What?!" when I told him what time we had to leave. I only told him 6 or 7 times that we were going to Vermont to camp, but then he says he didn't know! Ugh. My voice really is Charlie Brown's teacher 95% of the time. Haha. He still had about 3 hours to do whatever before we left.

Funny hair when he woke up
We had to bring all 3 dogs with us this time. It was going to be cool enough, and I already had Bryan taking care of them the following two weekends, so I decided to just bring them. The only problem is that it's nearly impossible to fit everything in my hamster car. 3 dogs, John and all of our camping stuff. Good thing Phoenix is small. The other two dogs are up close and personal in the way back, and our stuff is piled high next to John and in the passenger seat. As organized as I try to make it, it's still not easy to get to everything easily. I used to think Suburbans were stupid cars. Now, I want one. Haha. Oh how I wish I still had my Toyota Previa. AWD minivan. Coolest minivan evah! So I just searched for a photo of it, and since I'm on the work computer all I could look through was my old Photobucket account. This photo from 2005 was the ONLY one of the van I could find. Haha. Ignore the pregnant cow blocking the view. ;)

This is proof that I did once have boobs and a HUGE ass. Haha
So, anyway, we left around 1ish headed for Stowe, stopping briefly on the Kanc at FS Rd 511 to walk a mile with the dogs before continuing on. It's not a bad drive, and we got to take roads I'd never been on before so that helped make it better. As we got near Stowe, we passed a few breweries. Lost Nation, Rock Art and one other I can't remember. I wanted to stop so badly, but I couldn't afford to do more than my plan of hitting The Alchemist, where you can have as many free 2oz samples you could want. I got two 4-packs of beer. I wanted more, but that was all the budget would allow, then John and I hung out while I had few samples.

John's love for breweries is reflected in his face. Haha.

We drove out of rich person's mecca. I mean Stowe. I had booked us a campsite at Smuggler's Notch Campground so we stopped there first to check in and pitch our tents before heading over to the ski lodge to pick up my race packet. Although they took cards to pay for firewood, I was so psyched that I paid cash instead. $6 for firewood got me $14 back. Four of those dollars came in the form of two $2 bills!! John had never seen one before so he was psyched when I gave him one. (Of course, now 3 weeks later, he just wants to spend it on Roblox bucks haha. I won't let him.). These were fresh, crisp $2 bills that the campground gives back as change to guests because of Thomas Jefferson's Embargo Act of 1807. Vermonters used Smuggler's Notch to continue illegal trade with Canada.

I had to drive around twice to find our campsite since the sign was completely hidden until after you passed it. When I got back around, I realized we had to share parking and a trail with two other campsites. The two other campsites had three cars total all spaced apart and at an angle so that I could barely fit my car in without blocking the next campsite over; I was literally on the line of where the other campsite's parking was. I felt like an asshole, but I had to ask the other people camping if they could move their cars so that we could all fit. But, seriously, they should never have parked like that in the first place. There was room for 6 cars if they had parked right. They obliged, but I don't think the one guy cared for me much. He was one of those campers who comes there every year to the same site and just assumed we weren't coming since we weren't there Friday night (it was a 2-night minimum that I had to pay for).

There was a nice brook behind the campsite so I got the dogs out and took them in the woods to use the bathroom and get some water. I set up my tent and was about to set up John's when he said he would prefer to just sleep in the car. At first I said no, but when I thought about it, it made sense. We had to leave there by 5:45am so I wouldn't have to wake him up, drag him to the car, then take down the tent. It was actually a great idea.

We went over to the ski area and I got my first up close look at Mt Mansfield. Wow! I knew right away this was going to be a tough race. I ran into Hilary McCloy whose a friend of mine from home. She had signed up, too, and was the only person I knew there. I talked to her and a guy who did the race the previous year for awhile and then went inside to get my bib. Then it was back to the campsite. I was starving!

I made us spaghetti and opened up one of my Beelzebubs from The Alchemist. I didn't have to keep it too stealth since we were way back in the woods. While I cooked John took the dogs back to the brook for awhile which was really helpful. I also made a fire, but this one would not get going. When it finally did, the wood would not burn; it was too new and not dried out enough. Took forever to have a nice fire, but it finally happened. John and I had good conversation during dinner which was nice since we don't actually sit down for dinner otherwise. The cell signal was terrible, so that made him stay off of his phone and talk to me. Haha.

He has always loved to climb trees.

The dogs were very upset to be on leashes. The atrocity!
After dinner, we made s'mores, then John went to the car to go to bed. I packed up everything and put it in the car then went to my tent for bed. Spot and Phoenix slept in the car with John, and I kept Chill tied up at the campsite with me.

Sunday, July 30, 2017- Mansfield Double Up-

Although I had taped my foot and worn my Strassburg Sock to bed, my PF was still bad when I woke up. I didn't know how I was going to do this. The ups would be fine, but the downs. Ugh. I just had to hope for the best.

I made coffee for me and hot chocolate for John, then ate a bagel with cream cheese and got the dogs out to use the bathroom then I took down my tent then loaded up the car. We drove 5 minutes up the road to the start of the race. The weather was unbelievable. Clear, blue skies, cool and low humidity. You honestly couldn't ask for better weather the last weekend of July. The morning was gorgeous. I parked in a marked space where I thought there would be decent shade for Chill to sit in outside of the car. I'm not sure what planet everyone else was from, but every car but mine ended up parked at an angle in this row, as in, not in the marked parking spaces. Hmm. Angled parking at the campground the night before. Now this. Is this a Vermont thing?? Haha. Of course I'm the one who looked like the oddball if you looked over from distance, but I didn't care since I was the only one actually doing it right. Haha. I meant to get a photo of this and forgot.

This race started in waves of 10 people each, starting 10 minutes apart, and I was in the 2nd wave with a 6:40am start. I only did a short warm up then went over to the line when they called wave 2. I was pretty bummed to be the only woman in the wave. Hilary was in the one behind me with one other woman and the rest were mixed in other waves. I don't typically race men, so I had a really hard time actually "racing". I never felt I was ever in race mode really since I was never around any women the whole way. I did end up around one guy in my wave basically the entire race, though, so I at least I had someone nearby. Most of the wave was way too fast for us right from the start, and I was in the last of the 10 in wave 2 within minutes. I was able to hang with that guy I would do the whole race with somewhat, at least.

The race started off with a long climb up Mansfield. The first 1.5 miles was steep, rugged single track. I power hiked a lot of this section. It opened up onto a grassy ski slope that was nearly the grade of Upper Walking Boss. I laughed as we hit this. This was my thing, though, so I was able to pass the guy in front of me and somewhat catch up to the next guys before we hit a parking area. Across the parking area, the course entered more single track that was rolling and technical before coming out to a view that nearly took my breath away. I can't even describe how beautiful it was, but the first thing I thought of was how it was the perfect spot for a photographer to take shots of runners from behind (there was no photographer, but it would have really made for some amazing shots haha). The sun was at the back and we ran across the wide open ledges of Mansfield with Burlington, Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks sprawled out in front of us. I definitely took a moment to slow down here and take it in. I had to. It was just too amazing. Fortunately, this descent down the backside of Mansfield was constant views of this. The descent was mostly down steep rock slabs similar to the White Mountain granite, but not quite; it was slightly smoother, but I was able to move down this at a decent speed. My foot had been ok for the ascent, but I did have to start stepping more gently on some of this section. Nothing crazy because it wasn't a lot of hard pounding. The guy I had passed on the way up (and this is the same guy I would be with the whole way) still came flying past me on the slabs, but once we dropped into the woods, the rock slabs were slippery and wet in a lot of places. I passed him back since I have no problem with this terrain, and he said he wasn't very confident on this stuff.

The descent was long, but we finally came out to a double track road called Maple Ridge that basically cut right to go across the mountainside. I actually was relieved to find us going back up to give my foot a slight break, but it only went up for maybe 1/10 of a mile before it began a very long, approximately 1300ft descent down for about a mile. My race buddy would pass me quickly and end up ahead of me by a couple of minutes by the end of it. I was pretty bummed out because this is my thing! Where I can FLY on the downhill! But my fucking foot!!! This is what hurt it the most. I had to slow way up for this section. I just couldn't run fast on it at all. I was so frustrated but decided to use this time to eat a gel and drink some water since it was easy on the breathing. I knew this was messing up my race and just hoped it would end quickly and start climbing again.

I passed the aid station without stopping, crossed a bridge and finally started the climb up Sunset Ridge for our second ascent of Mansfield. This was nearly all power hiking for me after the first quarter mile probably. I ran off and on, but it was so steep that power hiking was faster. I passed a guy from wave 1 who was really hurting, but didn't see my buddy until we got out onto the amazing open ridge that took us up. This was called Sunset Ridge, and I could see why with open view west toward Lake Champlain. I didn't catch up to him until we took a right and made our way up to the top of the ridge for a brief stint on the Long Trail. (One thing I learned for next year was to bring a hat and sunglasses for the climb up Sunset. The sun was in my face blinding me the whole way.) The Long Trail segment quickly ended as we descended onto some of the most technical trail I've ever been on. And they weren't kidding when they said treacherous because there were literally a few places where there was the trail and a drop off on the other side. This was the Canyon Trail that would often remind of Mahoosic Notch as we wound our around and through boulder caves. It was absolutely nuts, but I absolutely loved it. The whole time I was thinking just how awesome this was. It was slow going for sure and never seemed to end, but wow, amazing. Seriously. (I'll add in some pics at the end of this). I ended up passing my buddy and catching up to another guy along the way. I was really good at moving through this section, even if it was slow. Some dude from wave 4 ended up flying past us. THAT was impressive. He gave me a fist bump on his way by which was cool.

We finally hit the other side of the ridge near the summit and popped out on a service road for a very short 2/10 or so. This was extremely runnable...except it wasn't! My legs were trashed. I passed the guy in front of me who was walking, but I was barely moving much faster. We turned back onto the single track and connected back to the trail we had started on for the rolling section in the woods. The guy I had just passed passed me right back, and my race buddy was close behind. My foot was killing me again, but I was able to move through this section ok knowing that we only had about 2 miles to go to the finish. Once off the single track, we crossed the same parking lot and descended on the same ski slope we had run up (the one I said was like Upper Walking Boss). I passed the guy in front of me here because I wanted to just bound down this section. Screw my foot pain. I was almost done. At the bottom of the slope where we had exited the single track in the beginning, we were steered onto a different section for the descent to the finish. This section as wet and overgrown, but the cold water felt good and the squishiness eased the foot pain. I flew so fast down this that my buddy and the other guy weren't even in sight. As I came out to another slope I looked at my watch which read 2:55:something and thought there was a chance I could break 3 hours! There was a race arrow pointing to the right across this slope, so I turned right and came right out to a service road. And this is where I made a fatal mistake. It STILL bugs me so much. My gut told me the course went down this road, but this was the ONLY intersection without a course marker.  WHY???? I KNEW it had to go down, but then I thought what if it goes up here and then down another slope?? So I stopped. I took off my pack. I pulled out my map and then waited for those guys to show up just to be sure. We realized I had been heading the right way all along. I was pissed. My watch now read 2:57:something. FUCK. And I actually thought that if this stop cost me the win, I'll be so pissed. But I ran as hard as I could even though it hurt like a mofo. One of the guys passed me, and my buddy stayed right behind. 3 hours came and went. My map flew out of my pack and on the ground behind me. I had to stop and go back for it then continue on. I came through the finish in 3:02:40. 10.6 miles on my watch so probably closer to 11 miles in reality. 4891ft of elevation gain. Now I just had to wait and then be crushed to first lose to Hilary by 8 seconds and then to the eventual first woman by 52 seconds. I was so bummed out. If I had run slow, then whatever, but my stop is what cost me that win. A stop I knew in my gut I didn't have to make. It hurt. Haha. I'll admit that was a tough loss for sure. But I got over it. You have to. You can't beat yourself up over the what-ifs. The fact that we top 3 women finished within less than a minute of each other without actually ever physically racing is pretty crazy. I would end up talking to Hilary about that after the race, and we both agreed that it would have been pretty cool for us to have actually raced each other. All 3 of us probably would have run it faster, and the competition would have made it feel more like a race. I did end up emailing the race director with the suggestion of having a women's only wave like 7 Sisters. He wasn't really into it, but maybe we'll at least have more women in the same wave next year.
Full Results

Now, for the photos! These are just a sample of the awesome photos that Greg Maino took on the course. None of me, but you'll see some of the other racers. It's pretty amazing, and they don't even cover the whole thing.

He also made a cool video...

After I finished I found John in the lodge just as we had planned. He was good so I went to my car and took the dogs out briefly then changed clothes. I went back up to the lodge where I hung out with Hilary and her parents while the racers continued to finish. Super awesome pizza was delivered and I had a Focal Banger while sitting out in the sun.

I couldn't drink the Focal Banger from the can. It wasn't allowed. Haha.
As soon as John and I had our fill of pizza, we left. Awards weren't for another hour, and I promised John we wouldn't stay. He had already been a trooper without a single complaint for a race that took me longer than a marathon. There was no way I could make him stay. Plus, his friend was coming over for a sleepover when we got home.

The day heated up fast, but for some reason I don't understand, we were only a few miles down the road when my a/c blower decided to work!!! The dogs stopped panting, and we stopped sweating to death. Unfortunately, it goes back out again once I turn the car off so I waited until my tank was almost on empty before stopping for gas. We made it to Littleton, so that wasn't bad. While getting gas, I cashed in two lottery tickets I accidentally bought when I thought I could get change from one of those scratch ticket machines and ended up having to spend $20 on lottery tickets! Haha. Guess I should have read the sign that was literally above where you insert the cash that said, "This machine does not make change." Hahaha. I won $6 back. What the hell. It bought me a coffee and John a blizzard at Dairy Queen so at least it was something.

Once we got home, I walked the dogs up Heavenly Hill, and John's friend came over. They had fun, and I let them stay up really late. Tough loss, but an awesome day nonetheless. I already can't wait to do this race again next year.

An old favorite...