Wednesday, May 16, 2018

2018 Sleepy Hollow Mountain Race

Pretty weird week. The gamut of weather from hot and sunny to cold and rainy. And, for me, from so fatigued and short of breath to all of a sudden waking up from a fog. On Thursday, I could barely run and struggled to breathe. By Friday, I was back to my old high energy level. It was crazy! I had forgotten what it was like not to be tired and brain dead. I don't know if it was the iron or not, but it supposedly starts working only a few days after taking it, so it's a possibility. I don't care what it is really. Just happy to have my energy back. The intestinal problems...well, still there. Haha.

This week was also my very uneventful 42nd birthday. Did absolutely nothing special for it. I've given up on my birthdays ever since I asked a friend to join me for a drink on my 39th birthday and she declined because she had to do yard work. Ever since then, I've hidden it from Facebook and kept it on the down low. I don't want the fake "Happy Birthdays" from people who really don't care. No one cares other than the very few people who messaged me privately that day since they remembered and my ambulance partner, Jeff, who surprised me with cake on Wednesday! (I don't know the last time anyone has given me a cake for my birthday!) That's all I need. I've learned not expect anything, even though my parents and brother gave me money. And last year a friend gave me flowers and then Amy and Rick Bernard took me out to Flatbread that following weekend. I do usually take myself out to dinner every year on my birthday(well, last year was a day late due to work), but this time I had to face reality that I'm now at a Five Guys and Kit-Kat level when it comes to my birthday dinner. Haha. I did two trail runs that day as well, but it was basically just another day. In reality, there's nothing exciting about turning 42. There was nothing exciting about turning 30 or 40 (other than becoming a master runner).  But I may still do something nice for myself next week...I have a $50 gift certificate to the Stonehurst Manor in North Conway that I've had for over a year now. Order some wine and fancy food. I might even make an effort to look nice for once just because. Haha. I will say that I had one exciting thing happen on my birthday...I paid off my car!! I guess dishing out $241 on my birthday wasn't ideal, but to now officially own my now hunk of junk is awesome! Haha.

Running this week was a little on the meh side since I didn't get a long run in again. Struggled through the 13 mile run on Tuesday and the two trail runs on Thursday. Fortunately, the week ended with me feeling good at Sleepy Hollow on Sunday. I ran much slower than last year, but I felt better at that race than I've felt in months. Still close to 60 miles at 57.9 miles for the week. 4,839ft of elevation gain. Four runs on trails! Yay! I did get some abs in on Monday and Wednesday, but I had so much energy on Friday and Saturday that I did full upper body and abs workouts. The hyperactive Leslie is back! Haha. I'm going to be making a change to deal with the painful tendons; I'm going to stop the stupid treadmill runs on Mondays and Wednesdays. No running at all on those days. So I lose 7 miles a week. Big deal. Instead, I'm going to focus on strengthening the glutes, and instead of the plyo workout I had planned to start a month ago, I've opted for Zuzka Light's Lifted Butt Series. I know. Whatever. Laugh. Make fun of me. I'm used to it. But it's what I need to be doing, and why not do something that specifically targets the glutes? Far more beneficial than running 3 miles at an 8 minute pace on the treadmill.

Monday, April 23, 2018- Woke up for the useless 3 mile treadmill run in 23:32. Not a super busy day today for us on the ambulance. It ended up being a beautiful day for the first time in forever and I was lucky to have a long time to lie out in the lot by my car and soak up some sun. I already had tan lines by the time I went back inside. I think I was out there for 2 hours. I so needed that. My body has been craving Vit D!

I read more of the book that Dave recommended until I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore.

Pretty much my norm for months. Just wanting to sleep.
Tuesday, April 24, 2018- Since John was out of school for spring break, I didn't have time for a long run, but it wouldn't have mattered anyway. There's no way I would have gotten through it. I barely made it through the flatish 13 miles I did run from work. By mile 5, I was struggling, gasping for air. The effort felt so much harder than it was. I wanted to quit so badly. I don't know how I got through it honestly. My post-Muddy Moose legs were a bit heavy from the get-go so I had already decided on 13 miles over 15. I felt so weak and frustrated. How can I run a marathon if I can't even get through 13? I decided to make it interesting at least and ran out to the end of Spindle Point, a narrow peninsula that juts out into Broad Bay on Ossipee Lake and was treated with my first loon of the season. I actually stopped for a few minutes to watch it, then went back to my run. By the end of the run, I was begging for mile 13. I was SO done. It actually looks like a decent run "on paper", but I struggled hard for that. 13 miles in 1:36:13. 7:23 avg pace. 352ft of elevation gain.

The day was shaping up to be beautiful so I had to get John out for a hike somewhere. Silly me forgot about the crowds that a nice day+spring break would bring out and chose Mt Major for a hike. Omg. Was it busy! It was still a good choice, though. Although only in the 70s, it felt like 90 degrees. First warm day since I don't know when. Haha. We brought the dogs along, but unfortunately had to leash them most of the way. The hike up is only 1.5 miles, but it gains 1,143ft in that short distance so some of this was pretty steep and icy in places. It's amazing watching people who don't know how to walk on an icy, steep trail. Haha. Right at the start of the hike, I noticed I was breathing heavily and really struggling. I thought maybe it was the weight of the backpack slowing me down, but then I had to stop for breaks to catch my breath constantly. I was huffing and puffing like someone completely out of shape. What the hell? That was when I knew something had to be wrong. It just had to. So I made the decision on the walk up that I was buying an iron supplement on the way home. I had almost every symptom (except the swollen tongue). I had to be anemic.

I was thankful when we got to the top because there was a cool wind, and John and I commandeered the old rock house. Haha. He was really enjoying himself out there so no matter how awful I felt, it didn't matter. This hike was really for him.

We stopped at Hannaford on the way home to get some groceries, and I grabbed one of the iron supplements. I had no idea how much to take, so I just picked one that was inexpensive. Just one pill a day. I read later that night that it only takes a few days to start taking effect. I took my first one that night with hope that it would help me by Sleepy Hollow.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018-  I got in 4 miles on the treadmill in 31:13, as usual that morning. Felt kind of blah. Tendons were sore.

I was SO excited today! I was only working half the shift today! I would get to go home on a Wednesday night!! Yay!! To me this was like heaven. I had originally planned a 33 mile trail run on my birthday and put in for the night off back in March so that I could leave town early Thursday morning. I changed my mind probably a week later, but decided to keep my night off just because it would be nice to be home on a Wednesday night. Seems weird that I would be so excited to have a rare Wednesday night at home, but I only have the little things like this to look forward to.

I dropped my car off for an inspection that morning knowing it was going to fail for the brakes, and sure enough it did. The cost was about what I expected, but I had to put a hold on it until the following week after I got paid. So I went to pick it up, following Jeff who was driving the ambulance. As soon as I tried to stop, the brakes went to the floor! WTF. They were bad before, but they still worked. I drove all the way down the strip until they all of a sudden caught. Made me question taking it back to them the following week. And not only that, there was all of a sudden a squeaking in one of my wheels and a burning brakes smell. I'm still not convinced it wasn't done on purpose, but interesting how it came out of there way worse than how it went in. I hoped it could get by another 9 days.

This was syncope day. For 4 weeks straight, we've had two transports during the day that were dispatched for the exact same reason. None were from the same cause, but so weird how this keeps happening. Things work like that in this field, though. Haha. Pretty quiet day otherwise.

Jeff totally surprised me that afternoon when he walked into the living room with a huge piece of cake with candles! It was totally unexpected! And so nice!! Honestly, it was the only actual, tangible birthday gift I got this year (not counting the money). When I finished the cake, Jeff even took my dirty dishes and washed them. I actually felt guilty since I'm not used to that, and Jeff was already way too generous. Thank you so much, Jeff!

At 7pm, I went home. I showered then sat down with a glass of wine and John and Phoenix. The joy of not working an overnight.

Not sure what's up with my phone camera taking such horrible photos lately
Thursday, April 26, 2018- In place of my 33 mile run, I had originally planned a trail running tour on 3 different trails. I only did the first one in my plan and scrapped the other two for more trail exploring in southern Mass. I started off on the Sweet Trail in Durham, NH that morning. I had planned to run easy, but I didn't realize I would be forced to. My tendons were really bugging me, but I also felt awful. Still so fatigued and short of breath. This run used to be easy for me to run quickly since it's only slightly hilly, but today was a struggle to run 9:35 pace. 8.5 miles at 1:21:35. 539ft of elevation gain. I ran this last almost exactly a year ago in 1:14:09 without even running at my max. It was still nice to be out there again since I do enjoy this trail. I just had no energy this time around. Started to think that maybe it wasn't low iron, but I'd only had 2 days worth so far.

The turnaround point at the bay
When I was done, I changed clothes in the lot. Accidentally mooned some woman walking her dog. Haha. It was quite warm and humid out so I kind of thought that's why I was sluggish. I left there and headed south to Foxborough for my next run. Running then driving for over and hour and a half, I learned, was not good news for my tendons. I could barely even get out of the car they were so painful. I jogged a short .6 miles out and back first just to loosen up. It helped so that I could actually run, but I felt even worse for this run than the first one. I ran so slow. Gasping for air. It was such a struggle to get up every hill, and I felt loopy. This was supposed to be the best marked part of this trail, but I still managed to get off course twice. Once was just stupid. The second time, the trail was barely discernible. The way back was easier since the mistakes had already been made. A pretty sad 8 miles at 9:43 pace for this one. 670ft of elevation gain. I was feeling pretty discouraged about this, but what could I do? I was a mess. Not a good birthday since it just left me depressed. You try not to beat yourself up, but it still happens.

I had a long drive ahead, and I went from being not hungry to instantly starving and that's when I turned into Five Guys. I ate every bite and then bought a Kit Kat for my "birthday cake" when I stopped for gas in Wakefield, Ma. Since I had a little birthday money, I stopped by Yankee Spirits to grab a few beers on the way home and had to do a double-take as I walked up to the checkout. That sign on the counter that shows the birth date of the legal age to buy alcohol caught my eye because it had my birthday on it. But not the year. "4-26-1997". The day I turned 21! Kids born the day I turned 21 turned 21 today!! OMG. I'm double that now! Wow! Seems like forever ago and yesterday at the same time.

I made it home right around 11pm. It was nice to see John, but I was so tired that I went right to bed. I took a few pics of myself on the trails on my birthday, but I look horrible, like 10 years older. This one is silly at least...

Friday, April 27, 2018- A strange thing happened. I woke up feeling like a brand new person. Like the fog I'd been living in since February had suddenly lifted. I had a huge burst of energy! I felt like myself again. Holy shit! Was it the iron?? Honestly, I feel like it has to be! A day later than I would have preferred, but better late than never. I went from zero energy to what felt like 110%! I was so energetic all day. I couldn't even do enough! I was antsy to do more every time I sat down. I was back! Yay!! Of course, the tendons still screamed at me, but the shortness of breath and the fatigue were gone. No more dizziness since then either. Was it something so simple that I could have fixed a long time ago? Well, apparently, yes. I feel so stupid for not trying it sooner, but I was so happy to feel like myself again.

Phoenix was protesting leaving the sunshine this morning.
I ran the usual Passaconaway Rd/High St run this morning. I felt great energy-wise, but with the sore tendons and Sleepy Hollow coming up in two days, I ran easy. 6.3 miles in 47:27. 7:31 avg pace. This run was my choice, since "Coach Person" had basically fired me at this point. That's not a good sign when even he gives up on you for VCM. I'm a lost cause, and I guess I proved my theory that I am uncoachable. My life and issues are just too complicated for anyone else to "get". I'm sorry I wasted his time.

I really needed to get my nails done and used the birthday money to pay for it. (Most of my birthday money went to groceries and bills). With the brakes needing work, I was going to have no extra money so this might actually be the last time I can get my nails done. I might have to actually give up my one completely unnecessary expenditure. :( I love my nails, but after 2 years, it might be time to give it up. People like me can't have nice things like pretty nails.

As soon as I got home, I didn't waste anytime getting Phoenix out for a hike up Heavenly Hill. This was the first time in forever when I didn't just lie on the couch instead. I felt great!

My flowers finally bloomed. And, yes, I still have the snow shovel at the ready. And oops. Didn't realize my boot scraper mat had fallen until I looked at this photo.
John was still out of school for spring break, but he was with his dad half the day and came home in the afternoon. They had already done a lot of walking so I didn't make John do anything else. Since I felt so good, I did a full upper body and abs workout. Yes! I felt like a person again. No more zombie. Weird that I couldn't muster up the energy to do anything extra just days before and now I was like a whole new person.

Saturday, April 28, 2018- Tried to sleep in, but I was still up by 7am. I wanted to do something easy so I decided to run Heavenly Hill to Tin Mountain again and check my race course. 100% snow free. The only problem since the week before is that there's now a HUGE blow down on the Laurel Loop on the opposite side of the road. It's impossible to go through, and since this actually needs a chainsaw to be removed, I'm going to have to reroute the course around it. Ugh. As I looked around I realized there weren't many options, but I'll figure it out. Might just have to take the course way wider than I want to. As I crossed the road, I was stopped by some of the crew doing the Waldorf School Trail 5k. One of them was an older guy who knew who I was. Haha. I kept saying things like, "Oh I ran that last year," and he'd reply, "I know you did." Or "I'm checking out my race course since I put on a race here, too," to which he replied, "I know you do." Haha. He was very nice and told me that he was the one who built the new trail for their race. I mentioned that I had checked it out and really enjoyed it. He suggested I use it for next year's race since it's entirely on Tin Mt property. I had thought part of it was on Waldorf property, but if that's not the case, then I WILL probably use it next year. I can get rid of the two full loops maybe. We'll see. I'll work on it at some point before know, which will be here in a few months. I finished off the run with 5 miles. Didn't push myself since I didn't want to destroy my legs for Sleepy Hollow.

Back at the house, I put the bike rack on my car and loaded up the bikes. John was super excited for our first bike ride of the year on the Mountain Division Trail. I was, too! It was such a beautiful day out. We went out and back for 7.9 miles. We stopped on the way back by the pond to see the turtles on the log. We first counted 3, then as we looked around the whole pond we began spotting more and more until we got to over 30 turtles!! And I'm sure we missed some. I think they were missing the warm weather, too. Haha.

As soon as we got home, I took the dogs up Heavenly Hill. I felt like a spaz! Haha. I could breathe walking uphill. When we got to the ledge, turkey vultures were playing in the wind and kept swooping down close to us. They definitely aren't pretty birds, but it was still cool.

Back at the house, I didn't stop there! Time for an upper body and abs workout. Haha. I was worried I was doing too much the day before the race, but I really didn't care. I expected nothing as far as a good race the next day. I was happy I would have energy for once, but I was pretty sure the tendinopathy plus the lack of fitness would leave me with a mediocre race. So today, I was just enjoying having my energy back. I did finally sit down in sun with the dogs and a beer before making dinner.

As always, she was offended by my beer can.
Believe it or not, I did actually sit down after dinner and then got to bed early.

Sunday, April 29, 2018- Sleepy Hollow Mountain Race

Woke up to cold rain that would never end. Such a difference than the day before. I had a feeling the day's race would be reminiscent of the 2014 race with the mud. I wasn't worried about it, though. Nothing new and definitely NOT EPIC. Stop it with the "epic" use, people, please. The word is so overused now that it just means nothing. It was just rain and mud. That's it.

I love that Sleepy Hollow starts at noon since it means we don't have to get up super early in the morning to get there. It does mean getting back late, but on a dreary day like today, it's not like we were going to do anything else anyway. The drive wasn't bad. Periods of heavy rain as we got closer. The rain really never let up the entire rest of the day. I planned to get there super early in case I couldn't get my car up the driveway due to the mud like 2014. I'd need the extra time to get John and the dogs out. Well, it turned out that the driveway was in great shape! Yay! That meant a very relaxed pre-race. I honestly came into this race with no expectations. Like I said before, I was just happy to be feeling like myself for the first time in a race since probably the indoor 3000m at New England's in February. I knew I would be a lot slower and upon doing a mile warm up with the dogs, I realized that this mud was way worse than 2014. Today was going to be slower in general for most people. I brought the dogs back to the car. John decided not to go in the round house this year and just stayed in the car. It was probably the right choice since the round house was packed with runners. 38 degrees and pouring rain is pretty miserable to be out in.

After I dropped the dogs off, I went out for my usual warm up on the course. I run to the Preme which is just before the mile point and then continue straight intersecting mile 3.5 for the run back to the field. The run up was just as Paul Kirsch described. Nothing solid. It didn't matter what side you ran on. I tested it out a bit and found that one side might seem more solid than the other, then they would switch. I decided it was basically a wasted of time and energy to continue swapping sides so made the plan to just stay on one side for the first half and then switch over just a bit before the turn onto the single track. This was shoe-sucking mud. Even the grass was soft. It looked solid, too, but then one step and you would sink. The first mile was going to be slow and definitely the most energy-sucking with the slop. As usual, my plan was to take it out easy until the downhill.

Back at the car, I realized I had run most of the warm up with a stick in my shoe. My feet were already soaked and covered in mud so I was basically all set for the start. Haha. I decided to stay in the car until just before the start. It was cold being out there, but I was overheating on the warm up, so I didn't want to start with extra layers I didn't need. Steve Brightman just happened to be parked in front of me, and I watched him put on some arm sleeves. Arm sleeves!! Why didn't I think of that?! I just happen to keep a pair in my bag that I never wear so on they went. With about 8 minutes to the start, I got out and ran into Dave Dunham who also said he had on arm sleeves. Haha. For me, the arm sleeves turned out to be great for standing at the start since it was freaking cold, but I should have just taken them off there. I was way too warm with them on within halfway up the first climb. I rolled them down, but they ended up not staying put and bounced up and down my arms the entire race! Argh. Never again. Haha.

The start was as I expected. Every step sucked your feet in. I tried not to get caught up with all of the women and ahead of me, and when Sarah Canney passed me right away, I held back and didn't follow. Having no power with the tendon issue combined with the soft ground made it too difficult for me to move quickly anyway. Any extra effort would have just drained me for the rest of the race. Plus, I knew I would catch some people as soon as the downhill started. As we crested the climb and Preme of the Mountain point, I was 5th female. By the time we got to the bottom of the long downhill, I was 2nd female. This downhill saves me every year. This downhill is always steep, messy and technical. Today, it was even better than I dreamed. Haha. Such a muddy mess. I can see why anyone would be apprehensive on something like this, even the most surefooted, but this is the one thing I'm good at, and I have no fear. Having my mind finally clear for the first time in months made it even easier since I was able to make split second decisions on foot placement. I felt 100% running down this thing. Too bad that was short-lived, but I needed that moment. I caught the twin girls right away. Sarah was so far ahead that I had my doubts, but halfway down, I went past her. At the base of the steep part, the course continues gradually downhill but on level footing. I caught Haley Heinrich here. She would say later that she went out way too hard on the first climb. I figured Haley and Sarah would pass me as soon as we started the climb back up. Haley did for a few seconds, then dropped off. Sarah actually caught up, as well, but she lost all of her energy at this point after being sick (I can empathize!) and suddenly dropped off. I kept seeing her as we approached the Darth Vader section and started the long climb up the switchbacks. I thought she was closing in on me at first, but she all of sudden got out of view and I never saw her nor the twins or Haley again. I was surprised because I ran this section much slower than before. Instead of running up the steep turns, I powerhiked. Last year, the only powerhiking I did was the short, steep climb after the switchbacks and leading up to the summit where you pass the Preme of the Mountain again. This year, I had already powerhiked many times. It gives me better power to get up the hill, but it was still slow.

I had caught up with Bruce Christensen on the switchbacks and would end up with him the entire rest of the race. We played leap frog a bit since I was better on the short singletrack on the way down from the summit, but he was better on the climbs.

I still wasn't sure how far back any competitors were at this point so I hauled ass on the next downhill. It has a few hills tucked into that really slowed me down. I've gone from being an ok uphill runner to a terrible one, for sure. I was surprised that Bruce and I actually passed two guys here, but I wasn't holding back. I knew the climb we had coming.

Like this shot by Josh Fields even with the goofy look on my face. Haha
As we came around the field I took a look back and saw no women in sight. I would still run in fear this whole next section. The twins are great uphill runners, and if anyone would catch me on the last climb, it would be them. This climb really isn't that long, but it feels like it since you're already tired and it's steep. I kept looking back expecting to see someone, but never did. As soon as we crested the top, I knew no other women would catch me now. Phew. The run down was a sloppy messy, but I put my all into it. I had nothing at the very end with the climb to the finish, and Bruce passed me here. I came in 2nd female. 57:34. 32nd overall. 5 minutes slower than last year. I expected to be about 3 minutes slower with the mud, and 2 minutes slower with my lack of fitness/tendon thing makes sense, as well. So I was perfectly happy with it. I was also happy to see someone made some segments on Strava for the downhills. Although it wasn't even close to my fastest on the first downhill, I was happy to see I was near the top in the rankings. It's the little thing that I can focus on that makes me smile. Haha. The other downhills were not so speedy at all. :) Haha.
Full Results

I walked back down to the pavilion with a few of my CMS teammates, Bill Jackson and Erik Vandendries. I had passed Erik on the first down, and he said that I after I did that he was going to make sure I was the last person to pass him. He passed me right back and beat me by a lot. Hahaha. I chatted a bit while grabbing coffee to warm up. Last year I missed it, so I made sure to get some beforehand.

I went back to the car to find John and Phoenix snuggling in the sleeping bag. The weather was still gross and raining so John never wanted to get out. I took Chill on a very short .4 mile yog. My tendons were already too sore for more. Since I actually didn't do a longer cool down then have parking lot beers I wasn't rushed to the awards. I had time to change clothes then hang out under the pavilion. I made sure I got a burrito this year, too. They have always been gone by the time I got up there. I ended up hanging out with Brandon Newbould, his Whirlaway teammate and a friend of his about to move to Africa along with Haley and her boyfriend. The crowd was super thin so I assumed everyone one had left due to the cold, but when they announced the awards would be inside, I realized everyone had been hanging out in the warm building! Haha. We were freezing outside, but I have to admit it was way too stuffy inside when I walked in.

The awards were quick, thankfully. I won more syrup! Haha! I'm still finishing 2015s and now have 2017 and 2018 in line along with 2016s Ascutney bottle. I gave Bryan my 2016 half gallon from Sleepy Hollow last year. He offered to buy it, but I gave it to him. Looking back now, I should have made him pay me for it. Haha. I also won $50! Probably the only prize money I'll win this year, but anything is HUGE help for me. It ended up paying for the following week's groceries.

Central Mass Striders women
It was straight to Prohibition Pig after the awards, but not before Steve Brightman handed me his entire cooler of beer that he brought to share. I didn't open it, just threw in the back with Chill. Little did I know how much beer he had given me until I got home that night!

Steve was way too generous!
John and I met up with Steve and Brian Trahan at the Prohibition Pig Brewery. It was a good time. The beer was great. Steve ended up paying for everything! Once again, way too generous. Some day when I make more money I will return the kindness! We only stayed for two beers each since it was late and long drive for everyone...longer for them for once.

Trahan and me
The drive home wasn't too bad. Very much like the drive over. Rainy and gloomy. We weren't home too late. Had time to unwind and get ready for the work week and back to school for John. I was happy to have had a decent race. I just felt good.


  1. I am SO GLAD you are feeling better!!! You looked pretty perky and happy on Saturday. Glad the iron worked and maybe the rest will suss itself out?

    1. I can't believe the difference the iron has made. Kicking myself for not trying it sooner. The other issues remain the same or worse. Ugh. But I'm glad I at least solved some of it.
      Thanks for coming to my race!! So glad you were there.

  2. Let's hear it for FeSO4. That and ibuprofen are the two true wonder drugs for (clean) runners.

    I like the idea of a Lifted Butt series because it encourages smoking for those who aren't interested in the glutes-strengthening aspect.

    I just realized that you're smiling in so many of your race pics that when you're not, you look almost homicidal when in reality it's just normal.

    Glad you had a good week with your family and an extra dog or two.