Loon Mt Race 2019

Loon Mt Race 2019

Monday, January 7, 2019

2018: Year in Review

Happy after my Kismet Cliff Run win where I broke my own CR despite very little training and running through an injury.
2018 was one of the most challenging years of my life. After 3 pretty great years, I finally had my down year. I usually have to weed through which races to highlight as my favorite. This year is a whole different story. And not just in running but on a personal level, as well. If you follow this blog, you know that John has had a rough time dealing with his dad which led to me also having a rough go. I've also felt very isolated this year with no one I can call a friend within over an hour drive from here. It's just been John and me getting through it. My work environment got worse than it's ever been and left me miserable there until I finally made the base change. Then my injury got worse and left me with the ups and downs of running with an injury. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. Never great. But that doesn't mean I didn't have some really good races this year. That's why I chose the above photo. It was probably my happiest running moment of 2018.

Winning the Kismet Cliff Run was the highlight of my year. It was my 4th win of the long course, but it was the most special because I broke my own course record from 2014. I had barely been able to run long distances. I was in pain constantly. I didn't even know I was racing for certain until 3 days prior. I went into it with no plan to race it, but luck was on my side, and I finished 1st female. It meant so much to me after SO many disappointments prior to this. (And many more would follow until I took my time off.) This race. My hometown race on a course I know by heart, every step, rock and root, meant the most to me of the year. This day was proof that I can still do well. I don't doubt that my course record will be broken next year, but 2018 was my year here.

Before I go on with my few other good races, I'll get into the details. So obviously with all of the time off and the inability to do long road runs, my mileage was much lower than last year. 1,881.3 miles for the year. 152,897ft of elevation gain. Decent there, but still far lower than what I normally do. I did no mountain running over the winter which is unusual for me, and I'm not sure why. I know that I had a focus on the 3000m in indoor so that may have led to less mountain stuff. Also, 2017 was the first year with no Granite State Snowshoe Series so I did no snowshoe races until Nationals. Part of my issue there is that snowshoe running aggravated my already existing high hamstring tendinopathy. While it nagged me early on, it wasn't until the National Snowshoe Championship Race that it really did me in for the year.

I do remember being in pain at this moment less than half a mile into the race.
Driving to Woodford, I had a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach about doing the snowshoe race. I should have trusted my gut. I wanted to turn around. I felt like I shouldn't be doing it, but having sunk the money into it, I never turned around. I will always regret that. Not that it wasn't one of the craziest, wildest races I've ever done, but the weight of the deep powder snow and the snowshoes meant using more power than normal. Doing so destroyed me. I almost stopped in the first mile. I had no power. I was in pain. But I kept going. Not only did I finish with my now year old injury to the point of extreme pain, my hands were so numb from the cold that I had to rely on strangers to take my snowshoes off. In that time stuck outside in the cold and soaking wet, I got hypothermic. I have never been so bad off after a race in my life. It was the race that ruined me for 2018. Although I still made the National Team, I was never happy about it. It didn't make up for what I had done to myself. And it's not like I could afford to participate with the team anyway. I would happily hand that spot on the National Team back in exchange for healthy tendons.

The rest of the year would see my DNF at the Vermont City Marathon, poor performances worse than when I was still "slow". Pain 100% of the time. But I stupidly pushed through it just to be able to run a little. I never could do the long runs for Hartford and Baystate and went into both completely unprepared. I was so upset with my 3:09 at Hartford, but I have done a complete 180 since then. Running a 3:09 injured and with literally zero marathon training was a pretty impressive time. It was not a good decision, but it does give me something to hold onto. I know people who trained their asses off all summer and fall for a marathon and still didn't run that much faster than my 3:09. So I know I have the talent...if I can use it. That is TBD for 2019.

I'm trying to focus less on the bad by looking back at what I was did well in and what I was happy with for 2018. So here is a list of my best races of the year...

Hilo to Volcano 50K- Definitely one of those races of a lifetime. This race was a year ago this week. Looking back at photos from our trip to Hawaii, it's hard to believe many of those places are now destroyed from the Kilauea eruption. Due to that, my parents have already sold their new house and moved back to the mainland. But we had a good trip, and I got to experience a very unique race. Starting in Hilo at 0ft elevation, the race went just over 31 miles nearly all uphill to just over 3,800ft. I was the only person who did it self-supported (I don't recommend this!). And almost every bit of it was in the pouring rain. I also had a terrible head cold I caught from playing kissie face with someone a few days before we left. You'd think it was miserable, but it was pretty damn cool! I finished 2nd female in 4:56:15. An incredible experience for sure.

USATF New England Indoor Championship- Hard to believe this race was a highlight, but I vowed to get back under 11 minutes for the 3000m after not doing so since 2016. I worked really hard to build back some speed over January and February to get out there and hit my goal. 10:55.53. Racing girls over 20 years younger than me. Haha. Although not close to my PR of 10:42 here in 2016, I was more than happy with it.

Mt Washington Road Race- I had just taken 2 weeks off with no running after having to drop out of VCM. Having paid $95 for my entry into the MWRR, there was no way I wasn't going out there. This is also a race that on paper looks like I should be disappointed in. But it turned out to be one of my favorite races of the year. I went in with the intention only to power hike it. For 7 years straight, I've come into this race a nervous wreck and had a disappointing race. This year it was going to be different. My intentions were to power hike it with no care in the world about racing. I planned to run the 1st mile just to get out of the crowd. I did that and started walking at the 1 mile mark. At this point I'm normally already dying and questioning why I sign up for this every year. But this year, I came away with a whole new experience. Although I powerhiked almost all of the second half, I ended up doing short running bursts followed by walking for the first half. I learned that Mt Washington isn't steep when you walk it. I spent the entire race never getting out of breath once, looking at the view and basically smiling the whole way. Finished my worst time ever in 1:39:35...which was only 3 minutes slower than previous worst time and 10 minutes slower than my best. I finally learned to love the Mt Washington Road Race and plan to return (if I can afford it) with a similar plan but faster. My newfound love for this race made it a highlight of the year.

Loon Mountain Race- National Championship- Hard to believe this would be one of my best races of the year considering the bad attitude I showed up with. Haha. With all of the hiking I did in June, Loon ended up being the perfect course for me. I ran it at a faster pace than the previous 2 years. I pushed myself to my max chasing down the woman in 3rd place for masters and passed her in the last bit of Upper Walking Boss. I won gold in the 40-44 age group! And I shared the masters podium with my closest running friends, Christin Doneski and Regina Loiacano. It was truly a beautiful day for me out there. Finally figuring out this race has made it a true favorite every year. I'm already registered for 2019 for my 9th straight Loon Mt Race!!

Run with the Beavers Trail Race- USATF-NE Trail Championship- This has become a regular favorite for me over the last 3 years that I started venturing down into the land of pizza without cheese.

It's always freakin' hot and humid and this year didn't disappoint. I hadn't been able to build up much speed since my tendons were still holding me back so I didn't expect much going into this. I had hoped for 2nd female and 1st master female, but there was some questionable competition. The course is probably a 50/50 split with technical vs non-technical. I went out a little hard on the first part to get around the crowd and thought I was going to drop after the first loop. This would be my longest run in over 1.5 months! But I managed to regain and keep pushing myself through the second loop. I gave it 100% and was shocked to come through the finish only 21 seconds slower than 2017. I also hit my goal of 2nd female and 1st master female. This would be one of only 2 races where I won prize money this year. $150 ($50 at Sleepy Hollow). I was super happy with this performance.

Last, but not least, the Groton Forest Trail Run 26.5 mile- I signed up for this the last week of July thinking I'd have plenty of time to get in some long runs beforehand, but, unfortunately, my tendons went from ok to bad. Never as bad as they were before Vermont City, but pretty bad. I couldn't get past 10-12 miles on the road before calling it quits. By the time this race rolled around I had no idea if I could run 26.5 miles. Although none of the climbs were really long, much of the race was extremely technical. I went out in the lead from the start and felt really good through mile 16. That's when I started to die. Haha. I pushed through those last 10 miles with everything I had. This was a mental game to the finish. I ended up finishing 1st female, 6th overall in 4:23:21. I was super happy but admittedly a hurting puppy. I really loved this race and might go back again to see how much better I can do it in shape. This race proved I wasn't a lost cause. I could still compete well off-road.

Despite it being a horrible year, I still managed quite a few wins as first female. 12 total!! That's not bad when you look at the big picture. Reminds me that it wasn't all bad. Was I happy with all of those times? Definitely not, but not every year can be a great year.

I finished off the year with 6 weeks off from running. Although I'm now having to build back up from scratch with tendons that are still not completely healed, it was a good time to take a break. I'd been wanting to work on getting back my power and strengthen my glutes. I did both. Insanity Max 30 has really boosted my power while the Booty Core workout has basically given me a whole new butt. My body doesn't feel or look like it did 2 months ago. I'm really looking forward to using it in some races this year.

2018 pushed my limits, emotionally and physically, but I'm ready to move past it and get on with 2019. I have no idea at this point how it will pan out. My only goal right now is to build back up to the longer distances so that I'm ready for Boston. I want to focus as much on trail and mountain running/racing after Boston. I'm letting the USATF-NE GP go this year; I'll compete in 3 races, but it's time for a break from my Iron Runner status. Although I have a tentative plan, I'm going to be more open-minded this year and do some new stuff. I don't care what anybody else is doing. Just focus on myself.

As far as my personal life, my focus will always remain John. I have become the only parent who is really present for him. His dad isn't gone, but he's dwindled down his time spent with John to only 4-6 hours a week. This has actually been better for both of them since they hardly ever get along anymore. That's a little scary for me since he's about to turn 13 next month, and I have no idea what I'm doing. Haha. Winging it every day. I will still focus on myself since I need that, too, but that leaves little room for close relationships. I actually came to accept this over the last month and a half. I just don't have the energy to put in the effort especially if it's not returned in kind. I'd rather spend that very little free time selfishly doing what I want to do. As John gets older, my life will become more free, but for now I'm content at keeping the status quo. I'm comfortable being alone. As long as I get my social fix at races, I'll be good.

I'm feeling at peace with how this year is starting so far. No more stupid tears, low stress, staying overly active, strengthening my body, eating what I want, drinking good beer, cooking more and avoiding drama. Hopefully, I can add other good things to that list as 2019 goes on.

1 comment:

  1. Great song! Weird-ass video. Hoping for an equally great (and not too terribly weird-ass) 2019 for you, Leslie!