Waterville Valley 2019

Waterville Valley 2019

Friday, September 27, 2019

2019 Pisgah Mountain 50K Trail Race

Around mile 19. Photo by Glenn Hammett
The Pisgah 50K was one of the first ultras I read about in my race search when I moved back to New Hampshire in 2011. It never could fit into my schedule, either because it conflicted with other races or I just didn't have the free time. I finally put it on my definite schedule for this year so it was happening. I can't say I was actually really into it by the time race day rolled around. This was basically my first weekend back racing after a 4 week break which is something I hadn't done since probably 2013, if even. I needed that break physically and mentally, but it turned out, I still ended up not really ready to race today. My mind definitely wasn't in it, but I had just registered the week before, and I wasn't giving up my $65 registration fee. Plus, I needed the training. I came into this race thinking that I would have no problem running a 50K. I'm super fit right now. 31 miles is easy. Well, it wasn't. Remember back when I was dying at the end of the Big A 50K in May? Back when I WASN'T in shape for a 50K? Well, today I felt much worse than that. MUCH worse.

It was an early morning, but the drive over wasn't all that bad. I got parked in a spot that definitely wouldn't work with John and Phoenix in the car with it getting the warm side by noon. But I stayed parked there so I could get my bib number. As soon as I walked over I was greeted by Jonny Hammett, Fred Ross and Tammy Richards. Greg Hammett walked over, too, so Fred made us do photos. I look pretty disheveled. Haha.

Greg lives there in Chesterfield so he was able to give me the scoop on a better parking space. And wow. It turned out to be perfect. Shaded the whole time and with its own porta potty. I moved the car down there then barely warmed up. A long warm up really wasn't necessary since the start was a good downhill on the road that would warm me up enough. I came back to the car to get all set for the race. I'd once again opted for no pack and wore the same waist belt I wore at Escarpment. I put one gel and 3 S-Caps in it and that was it. Aid stations were spaced perfectly to just get water and Gatorade there. Stupidly, I didn't bring the maple syrup...AGAIN. Not sure why I forgot about it. I figured I'd be able to just rely on aid stations for fueling. And since when lately has this worked? Never. So I basically fucked my race up before I ever started. Not kidding. I was able to get through the fueling issue at Big A and Escarpment, but not today. Today I paid for my stupidity. I think it had to come to this because otherwise I would have kept doing it. I needed this mistake to finally hit home. I just wish I hadn't had to suffer so much to learn. Haha.

Once I was set, I said goodbye to a sleeping John. I think he heard me since he grunted an ok. I walked to the start. There were a few other familiar faces, but not many. I chatted with Tammy a bit. She was doing the 23K, her first trail race. Tammy and I both had terrible races at the Hartford Marathon last year. Me, due to my injury and inability to train, and her, because she suddenly was injured with my same injury! So we both had a bummer of a winter. She didn't run again for about 5 months, but I think she's all healed up. I'm not, of course, because I keep running. Haha. But I'm in a much better place and actually doing pretty well with it. So it was nice for us to come back together almost a year later having overcome last year's debacle.

The time before the start seemed to drag. I just wanted to get this show on the road. I lined up with Jonny on the line. He had a pretty fast goal time. I didn't really have a goal time, but I expected to run around 4:30 easily. Spoiler alert: that didn't happen! Not even close! Haha.

The RD gave pre-race announcements off we went down the hill for the first part of the course on a rolling road. Jonny and I chatted along the way. This should have felt easy, but I could already feel soreness in my tendons on the climbs. I was really happy when we turned off onto the trail. It was really nice trail to run on, and this part was easy so we ran quickly through the first 4 miles of the course. We came out on a road very briefly, and then right back into the woods where the trail started to become more hilly. Constant rollers. I wasn't quite ready to walk the uphills, but I definitely cut back my pace so I didn't use up too much energy early on. It wasn't long before the soreness from the track started to appear. My calves, my quads, hamstrings. All of it! But luckily I was still moving quite quickly and easily through this nice somewhat technical singletrack. The temps stayed cool in the shade, so other than the leg soreness I was feeling pretty good. I had seen Amy Rusiecki and Kelsey Spare (formerly Allen) at the start seconds before we started. I knew Amy would be there, but not Kelsey. This had me running scared the entire way since I was leading for the 50K women right from the get-go.

Jonny and me feeling pretty good early on
The first 8 miles seemed to go by quickly and easily. I stopped at the aid station here to drink water and Gatorade and grabbed a handful of peanut M&Ms. I wouldn't have done this if I had known the course was going to climb steeply up a switchbacking road for over a half mile right out of the aid station. The only way for me to eat and breathe was to walk. I would have been able to run this otherwise, but I do not have the skills needed to eat and run. I just don't. haha. It was ok. This was a long climb and probably better that I walked it. I finally got running again, but the trail wasn't as nice here as before. It's a snowmobile trail and it was all chewed up. You really had no flow running through here, and the climbs and descents got longer. I started to catch up with a Cambridge Sports Union guy I thought was Ari from Escarpment, but when I saw his face it didn't look like him, and he didn't seem to recognize me either. Well, it turned out that it HAD been Ari. Funny we didn't recognize each other. He hung on not too far back through this section. I should have known it was Ari, though, because he was better than me on the climbs, and I was better on the descents...just like Escarpment. Oh well. I finally saw a parking lot so I knew I was coming down to the 12 mile-ish aid station and was shocked to see I had caught back up with Jonny. He said he had a rough time through that last section. I just drank something then moved on. Ari came into the aid station just as I left.

Jonny put a lead on me quickly so I found myself all alone again as we entered the Reservoir Trail. This part was fun again, and I was moving along at a good pace. I was definitely feeling the miles at this point. So far this course had been a lot harder than I expected, and I knew we had the longest climbing coming up after the next aid station. These 3-4 miles seemed to go by quickly. As I turned into the aid station, there was Jonny again. He wasn't feeling good. Something was up with his hips or something. I can't really recall, but he said he was basically losing power. I drank something here and decided to take the one gel I had in my waistbelt. Clif Gel Boston Cream Pie. DON'T DO IT! Probably the most disgusting gel I've ever tasted. And this is the last time I'm using Clif Gels.

Out of the aid station we started the long climb. Jonny and I left at the same time with me in the lead until the climb started so I let him go by. I could tell he was definitely hurting, but he was still moving faster than I was since I decided to power hike here. All of a sudden some guy came out of nowhere behind us and then flew past us. Damn. I think he ran smarter than we did. I was definitely starting to feel a little tired here, and in addition to the soreness, I suddenly had this twinge of pinpoint pain near the top of my left hamstring. Not my tendon, but the actual muscle. This sharp little twinge would not go away for the rest of the race. It never got much worse, but it was just constant and had me a little concerned.

I didn't think the climb was too bad because it wasn't just uphill. We had a few downhill breaks in there so I'm not sure which one was the summit. On one of these downhills, my fear at wearing Hoka Speedgoat 2 shoes for this came true. Not lifting my foot high enough, I caught on a root just at the start of a downhill and down I went super hard and with so much momentum that I hit the ground and still did a full side roll, covering my sweaty skin in a nice dirt blanket. Haha. I had hit so hard that it caused to make a loud grunt. Fortunately, I wasn't hurt except for very minor scrapes on my left shoulder so I was right back on my feet running again. I immediately caught up with Jonny who was struggling on the downhilll. He let me go by. We had one more climb where "Greg Hammett" was sitting in a chair taking photos. I was wondering how Greg finished the 23K so fast, showered and then got over here, but then I realized right as I passed him that it wasn't Greg. It was his twin brother, Glenn. Haha. He started to ask if I had seen Jonny, but he suddenly saw Jonny behind me before I could answer. This was the last time I would see Jonny.

After a short downhill to a dirt road, I came to the next aid station around mile 19. I was feeling drained at this time and took Gatorade and water. No food. I just couldn't. I looked at it and it made me want to vomit. From here was the start of the Kilburn Loop for 5.5-ish miles. which I'd heard horror stories about. It started on a packed dirt path. I didn't think it seemed so bad...and then we turned onto the singletrack. It wasn't long before I was suddenly feeling awful. Major stomach cramps and suddenly drained (hmm wonder why haha). I started to catch up with someone, but I would never catch him. I spent the next 6 miles constantly catching up to him but just never enough. I had hit my wall by mile 21. I still had a long ways to go, and the up-down course was unrelenting. I was struggling when I made it back to the 25.5 mile aid station (same aid station as the previous one). I took an S-Cap which I think cured the stomach cramps because they were gone quickly. I wanted to ask the guy how far back the 2nd woman was from me when we first came through, but I didn't. I just kept trudging along.

These next 7 miles were excruciatingly painful. My legs hurt, and I could barely move. I thought for sure I was going to get passed any second. I kept looking back, but there was never anyone in sight. The last part of this course did so much climbing. It almost seemed like more climbing than any other section. I was feeling so dizzy and started hyperventilating. The hyperventilating thing isn't new to me towards the end of long races when my effort is high. It's kind of scary, though, because you have to keep yourself controlled or else a panic attack could happen. I just kept taking slow deep breaths when it would happen. I had no idea what was causing it, but knowing it's happened multiple times before and relieved itself immediately after finishing, I knew I was ok. (I looked it up later. See below for what I think it might be).

The last few miles to the final 1.4 miles on the road was a death march. I felt so awful. At Big A 50k, I felt like I was dying, but not like this. This felt so much worse. It had warmed up quite a bit just to make it feel even more terrible. I was never happier to see the road until I had to run on it. I very quickly grabbed water at the unmanned station at the gate then ran as fast as I could down the road.

Fred made this for me.
I knew what the course was like on the way out so I figured this road would be the same, and sure enough, a long downhill followed by a long uphill. I saw a bunch of people standing out at the road cheering so I figured that must be Greg's house since he told he lived on the course and would be out cheering. As I approached them, I saw Jonny standing out there all clean and with a beer in his hand; he had dropped right after I last saw him. I was so jealous. I think I muttered those words and then something about feeling terrible. Greg yelled out that I had 3/4 mile left. I swear it felt like a mile. We finally turned onto the main road and there was the finish. The pain face in the next photos was real. The smile was just good acting. Haha. Too bad that one was blurry, though.

How the hell I still won that thing is beyond me. The only other time I've felt this bad in a race was at the Baystate Marathon last year, but I wasn't hyperventilating there. I was happy to at least have broken 5 hours, but my time REALLY sucked. 4:52:18. I honestly should have been able to run a 4:30 easily with the shape I'm in, but that did not go well today. Although the 400m race was definitely a factor on the legs, the real culprit was the fueling. No doubt about it. Full Results.

I grabbed an ice cold water and hobbled what felt like 10 miles to the car. John was just as I'd left him.

Fred checked on him for me during the race and took this. Haha
It took me a long time to get changed between barely being able to move and multiple porta potty trips. My body definitely hated me. I let Phoenix out while I changed then we drove up to the post-race stuff. I did not want to eat, but I had to eat before I drove so I forced down a hamburger. Fred told me I won prize money which I didn't expect at all. I wasn't expecting any awards. It was the best news of the day because I needed that $75 so badly.

The RD handing me the check.
I headed out right after that. We had a long drive, and I'll admit it was tough. I could barely get out of the car when we got home. Omg. I knew this would be a long recovery and planned the next 3 days as zero days. Lone Gull 10K was a week from this one, and I needed to be recovered enough to have a respectful race.

So, like I said, I looked up the hyperventilation thing later that night. One of the possibilities actually makes the most sense. Exercise-Induced Laryngeal Obstruction (EILO). It definitely feels like my larynx is closing up when it happens, as opposed to it being lung related. It feels like it's in my throat, as if my throat is closing. "Most simply, unlike EIB, which comes on more commonly on cessation of exercise or with a decrease in exercise intensity (change in ventilation rate), EILO generally occurs during peak intensity and will subside on its own within three to five minutes of cessation of activity." From this article. It also mentions getting relief by certain breathing exercises which is what I've done with the slow deep breaths, but the article has some other suggestions like pursing the lips or inhaling through a straw. Of course this isn't definitely EILO, but it seems to be the most likely case. I've never experienced hyperventilating outside of late in long distance racing so it's a safe bet it's exercise-induced. Haha.

To my take on Pisgah. It was a really tough race. I knew it would be challenging, but I didn't expect it to be this challenging. I wouldn't say it's overly technical either, but it definitely wasn't smooth trails by any means. I'm pretty bummed I had such a bad race. And yes, I know. I still finished 1st female, and I'm happy about that, but I don't think anyone is generally happy with a race during which they felt so awful. And I know I'm far more fit than that finishing time implies, so that bums me out, too. But, I can't use the cope out that, "It just wasn't my day." I think it definitely could have been my day or at least a better one if I could just get the damn fueling right! I decided to give the Huma gels a try again. I used to use chia seeds all the time during marathons and found they settled my stomach so it's back to chia seeds! (Speaking of chia seeds, look at all the different Chia Pets you can get now!)

This is probably my last ultra for the year even though I had originally planned 2 more. Instead, I'm going to torture myself with a road marathon. Haha. It's ok. I'm really not feeling the long distance trail races again until next year. I'm happy with what I have left on my calendar for now.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

2019 Millen Relay 4x400

View from the top of the Waterville Valley Mountain Race course
Looks like I'm combining 2 weeks again. I hate doing that since the posts end up being way too long. Plus, there are actually two races in this one. I wish I knew how to stop writing so much, but I'm deficient in that skill. Haha.

Things have been mellow on the Bryan front. I'm still waiting to hear from DCYF for their recommendation, but Bryan is staying clear other than picking up and dropping off Chill. It still kills me to see this happening. He thinks I hate him and I'm out to get him when I'm not at all. I'm just trying to do what's best right now.

My parents came for a visit for 5 days. It was a very low-key visit. I tried to get them out to do a few things, but they didn't seem into it so we didn't do much at all really. My dad struggles a lot more now when he's out of his element so it's tough for my mom to deal with it so I get it. We just did a lot of shopping, and I did get them out to Twin Barns Brewing one afternoon after attempting Castle in the Clouds where they didn't want to do the tour. We went out to eat twice and I got them out on the track to walk while a group of us did a workout. They just don't need the level of activity I do. Most people don't. Hahaha. My mom loves to cook so she cooked us dinner most nights. I loved this! It's nice to be pampered by your mom once every few years. Haha.

I didn't do any races the weekend they were here so that ended up making it 4 weeks straight of no racing. Then I jumped right into a double race weekend with the 4x400 Millen Relay and the Pisgah Mountain 50K (this will be its own post since this one is too long). Neither was good. Hoping for a race I'm happy with at Lone Gull, but that's doubtful since I've gotten slower there nearly every year. Haha. Straight into the National Mountain Running Championship the following weekend and then it's another race break after that. So I have some tough weeks here. I wouldn't say I'm burned out on racing, but I'm ready to cut it back. Take more weekends off.

On the job front, there's been no change. The job I was going for hasn't actually done interviews yet, so I'm not out of the running. Apparently an important person in the process has been out on medical leave so I'm guessing this was unexpected and has caused a delay. I just want a yay or nay on whether I will get an interview or not. I've been contacted by two of the other 3 jobs I applied for, the second one just two days ago. I was about to turn to the jobs Facebook suggests jobs to me. They seem to think cashier and dishwasher are all I'm qualified for. Haha. One job that did contact me back was a no go with me after I saw the pay. Less than I make here for like triple the work! They prefer someone with a Bachelor's Degree but want to pay $29k-ish a year! I don't think so! The other one wanted to set up a phone interview, but I haven't heard back yet. I'm happy to know the job I want is still on the table, but it's getting frustrating since I need a better job soon. Do I turn down this other one if it's offered and take the risk of waiting for the other one? I don't know. The poor communication from the job I want is disconcerting, but do I want to give it up for a job working at Huggins? Not sure about that. I'll probably go through with the Huggins interview. I may not even get that job, even though I'm qualified for it, but if I do, accepting it will depend on the pay. But, we all know the reality, in a year from now, I'll probably be working at an EMT here with a new company. Haha.

New England Runner magazine's new issue came out. I still haven't renewed my subscription so I have to rely on others to tell me if I'm in there. So Christin Doneski sent me a screen shot that Michelle took at Bridge of Flowers. I remember waving to her. Then Jill Pelletier messaged me to tell me Matt mentioned me in his interview. That was cool to read. Maybe I'll be back in the next issue looking like my usual self with a beer in my hand post race. Haha.

Running was good both weeks mileage wise. Unfortunately with my parents here I only did one mountain run and the rest on the road just to save time. It really hurt. And I hate that same Cranmore Shores/Tasker Hill run. It's one of those winter runs I'm stuck with. So boring. But it was ok. I was definitely hurting after that, though.

Week 1, September 2-8, 2019- 49.2 miles. 4,698ft of elevation gain. I honestly thought I hit 50 miles on Sunday, but I didn't notice I didn't until after I showered so I just said fuck it. I really don't care, but if I knew I only had .8 miles to go, I would have gotten it in. Really doesn't matter, though. I was happy with the week. I had a great track workout on Sunday at least.

Monday, 9/2- Zero miles. Zero day as planned. Did my 10 minute glute workout at work. No walk. Came into work to find out our ambulance that we usually have up here was in an accident the day before. Brand new guy with only 3 days of training was driving and blew through an intersection and hit someone. As if that wasn't bad enough, they were transporting a critical patient who ended up dying shortly after he eventually got to the hospital. Not good. This company thinks that all they need is a warm body...forget training. Well, that might have just bitten them in the ass. And the best part, that driver is still working here! WTF. Such an embarrassment. There's just so much about this whole incident that infuriates me. A manager was informed that this new person was not ready to be put on a truck as a regular crew because they felt he needed more driving training... and yet, that was ignored and look at what happened. But I'm not wrong when I say this practice is across the board with private EMS. It's scary and regular people have no idea.

On a bright note, if you were considering purchasing a Toyota Highlander and wondered how safe it is, I'd say you're good to go. The driver wasn't injured, thankfully.

I actually ended up bringing John and the dogs with me to work today. John didn't start school until the next day, and I wasn't comfortable leaving him home alone for 24 hours. He was bored, but it seemed like the right thing to do. Bryan came by to get Chill at some point, and then I took John and Phoenix home around 5pm. I had to make sure he was home in the morning to get his ride for the first day of school.

Tuesday, 9/3- 8.6 miles. Luckily I got out of work on time to see John off for his first day of school. I called him before I left work to make sure he was up. Look at the excitement in his face!

Phoenix and I walked him out to his school pick up place when I got home.

I was happy to see him go back to school. He really needs the social life. And I needed that help since he's not seeing Bryan right now. I didn't want to have to bring him into work with me every 24 hour shift. Thankfully, he's get driven home from school now, too. I realized my son is now a latch key kid. I'm just like those poor, single moms in the movies with latch key kids whose lives turn around into fairy tale bliss.... ok, wait, wait. That's a lie. Haha. But dammit. Why can't that movie ever be my biography?!

Anyway, now I have free time back on Tuesdays so I took my time getting out the door for a run. I decided to do a loop from behind Walmart up Corridor 19, the Mason Brook Trail and then back via the mountain bike trails. I brought Phoenix along since she really needed the exercise. Part of Corridor 19 had been chewed up by the new pit that's been expanded out there, but that won't matter when it's a snowmobile trail again. Footing was rough, though. The rest was fine and a good run overall. 8.6 miles in 1:33:53. 1,654ft of elevation gain.

Wednesday, 9/4- 3 miles. Busy day at work. Came in right to a 911 call. The other crew was still out on a call, but they drove past us heading back and wow, they were driving A150, the twin to the truck that was in the accident. Sweet! They were calling it the wrong call sign (one that already belongs to a truck) so I decided to rename it. First I needed one that was available, and secondly, I needed to make myself laugh, and I'm not sure anyone else got the joke. A11 was free since the old A11 was wrapped around a telephone pole by one of our North Conway employees 3 years ago. How could I not use the number of a truck that had also been demolished by idiocy?! I basically just told everyone, including my manager, that's what it was. Haha. It makes me chuckle.

I was definitely running today and got it done after the rain ended and it was super humid. 3 miles on the trail in 25:06. I was definitely running faster than that, but the phone GPS was off about .1 from what it normally gets out there. Doesn't matter, though. Also did glute work. Jeff and I tried to go to Luchador Tacos for the first responder discount but literally got toned out for a 911 just as we parked. Oh well.

In my workout room
My parents arrived late tonight at my house, but I wouldn't see them until the morning.

Thursday, 9/5- 5.7 miles. Purposely did a short run today on the roads so that I wasn't wasting time running instead of visiting with my parents. 5.7 miles in 42:53. We did a lot of shopping. My mom wanted new shoes and she bought me some new towels, a pair of sunglases and two sports bras and John some socks. She bought food to cook which was I was excited about and we also had lunch at Barley & Salt. Lunch was good, but my beer ended up being stupidly expensive. Kind of made me mad since no prices were listed and I ordered a $12 beer!! Wtf. Just like Flynn's in Mansfield, Ma. They enjoyed the place, though.

We picked up John at school so my parents could see it. John took us on a tour of the whole place, and they loved it.

Friday, 9/6- 10.4 miles. Basically the same run as the day before, just extended farther before I turned around. 2nd day on the road made me ache. 1:22:16. 7:51 avg pace which wasn't bad for all the hills. After that we did more shopping. By the afternoon, I really needed a break, and we had forgotten eggs so I drove to Fryeburg to buy good eggs at Weston's and then walk the dogs up Pine Hill just so they got something in today. This hill would be perfect for hill repeats so I might use it over the winter and spring next year. The dogs got more of a walk than I expected when they took off after something. Phoenix came right back, but Chill got quite the run in before he came back. I never saw an animal so it just might have been a scent. After the walk, I swung by Saco River Brewing for a beer and to pick up some cans, then headed back home.

Chill and Phoenix were competing for attention from my parents
My "bedroom" while my parents were there. I slept on the futon in the woodstove room.

Saturday, 9/7- 14.2 miles. Almost the same run as the previous 2 days, but I decided to add on the full run up Rockhouse Mountain in the middle. Well, it wasn't quite to the top, but just below it where the road ended at a pit and a view. That was a surprisingly steep climb up a rough dirt road. I'm not sure why I never checked this out until now. It was slow going since it gained about 650ft over about a mile. Mile 7s split was 11:02. Haha. The rest of the run was pretty slow, too, though. I was hurting even more today from running on the road. 2:0028 for time. 1,563ft of elevation gain.

Later in the day, John, my parents and I went to Castle in the Clouds. I thought it would be something they'd enjoy, but instead, after we go there, my mom suggested that next time we do the tour and have lunch outside. Hmmm. But we're here now. So it was only about 30 minutes before we left. They seemed very uncomfortable there, but I'm not sure why. I needed beer so we went to Twin Barns Brewing in Meredith afterwards. They seemed to like doing this so it worked out. On the way home, I showed them where I bottle my water and filled up a few jugs. Then it was home for the night.

View from Castle in the Clouds

Sunday, 9/8- 7 miles. Although they were wanting to get out of it because it was "cold" I got my parents to come with me to the track to walk while a group of us practiced the baton hand-off for the Millen Relay 4x400 and then did a workout. They actually stayed out there the whole time walking, and I think they felt really good after that.

After the baton practice, which knocked out one guy who pulled his hamstring (which also knocked him out of the relay, altogether), the rest of the group did some really short distance workout similar to the one I had done with them recently. No way in hell was I doing 200s and 100s again. It wouldn't help me for Friday at all, and it hurt me the last time. I decided to do a longer distance ladder workout, and it actually went really well...except the 1000s. The 1000m has always been my most difficult track distance to pace, but other than that, I was really happy with the workout. I wore spikes for the 400s and 800s and regular road shoes for the rest.

400, 800, 1000, 1500, 1000, 800, 400
79, 3:01, 3:48, 5:49, 3:56, 2:54, 79

I was happiest with the last 400 being the same as the first. I still didn't expect much from myself in the 400 at the Relay. I'm not a sprinter at all. Anything under 1500 is just not my thing. This body can't do it.

Workout group
So, prior to this, Dave Dunham had to drop out from the relay due to his back. So I didn't hesitate to message Ricky Gaudreau about joining the team. I thought he would make a perfect replacement for Dave. He agreed. The whole deal with the relay teams was that they were supposed to be put together evenly so we'd all finish close enough to each other. Our team was already one of the slowest ones put together. After seeing how fast Ricky was at the workout, I was psyched that we'd now have two fast runners instead of just one. Lori Skidder and I being the slow ones. UNH runner, Thomas Chant, would our fast runner. Every other team except the late addition team had 2-3 fast runners. Well, I guess Ricky ran "too fast" at the workout, so I got a message from Terry saying she was pulling Ricky from my team and giving me Roger. Ok. First off, if our team was "even" with Dave, how would giving us Roger be fair. He'd run much slower than Dave would have. I knew right then we'd be coming in last. Ricky got moved to the late addition team...that already had 2 fast runners, but also the second slowest runner, too. So now, we were the only team with one fast runner and 3 slow runners. And I'm including myself as slow. I was definitely pissed about this, especially since it was obvious certain teams were stacked. I wasn't looking forward to the relay that much anymore after this.

My parents didn't want to do anything else today so I took John on a walk up Heavenly Hill with Phoenix at some point.

Week 2, September 9-15, 2019- 52.9 miles. 10,666ft of elevation gain. I ran very low mileage for most of the week since I had the Pisgah Mountain 50K on Sunday. Plus, I was REALLY sore after the track workout. I didn't feel relief until Thursday, but felt the soreness come right back as soon as I did a few strides in my spikes right before the relay. Oops.

Monday, 9/9- 7.6 miles. I had taken the day off work since my parents were staying until Tuesday. Despite the major soreness, I had to take advantage of the rare Monday off and get in a run. My parents weren't up for much other than mailing a package and an early dinner so I decided to do a mountain run. The road runs were killing me.

I brought Phoenix along on a very slow run up and down Mt Chocorua via Hammond and Liberty Trails. Legs were SO sore and tired from the track workout, but it didn't matter. The weather was gorgeous, and I didn't care how fast I did this. We hung out at the top for about 5 minutes before heading back down. 7.6 miles in 2:00:53. 3,023ft of elevation gain.

As soon as John came home from school, we went for an early dinner at the Margarita Grill in Glen. I'd never been there, but I'd heard it was good. It turned out to be awesome and a really good beer list. John complained about going, but he ended up being very engaged at dinner. I ordered this huge burrito thing. It literally ended being 3 dinners for me. Haha.

Tuesday, 9/10- 8 miles. My parents had a very early flight out of Portland so I was up at 3:15am to drive them over there. I said my goodbyes and they walked away. Even though I wanted it to be a more active visit with them, it was still a great visit. I don't see them often at all. Maybe once a year, if that. I was ready to have my room back, but I was also sad to see them go.

As planned, I drove right over to the Eastern Trail in Scarborough to run. I had to wait about 20 minutes for the sun to rise enough before I headed out. I rarely ever do runs at sunrise, so this was actually quite nice. I can't say I felt very good, though. My legs were still extremely sore and fatigued. I felt like I was running much faster than it ended up being which made me nervous that I had totally fucked myself for the relay AND the 50K...and yeah, I kind of did. Haha. I ran out and back for 8 miles total in 1:02:37. 7:45 avg pace. Felt like 7:15s, and it was pancake flat. Oh well.

Of course, Holy Donut was right around the corner so I picked up a half dozen donuts before driving home. I was SO tired by the time I got home. It was only 10am and felt like the afternoon. I don't nap, though, so I got my upper body and abs workout before I showered.

John had a doctor's appointment that afternoon so I walked the Jackman Pond Trail with Phoenix before picking him up. The appointment last 2 hours since he was establishing care with a new provider so we were home super late and I was so tired.

Wednesday, 9/11- Zero Day.  Much needed zero day. I walked 2 miles on the trail and did my glute workout. Jeff and I finally got our Luchador food that a 911 had thwarted the week before. It was really good. It actually took me a bit to figure out why First Responders got a discount in September, until, duh, 9/11. Kind of fitting we went there today.

Speaking of 9/11, I choose to be silent about it every anniversary. The memory of it still hurts too much. There are those who accuse others of forgetting, but they really don't understand that some of us will never forget that day. We just don't want to rehash it every year. 9/11 directly affected my life. How can I forget? I don't need to share my story of that day over and over and over. EVERYONE has their own story of that day. It's a painful memory. It's a sadness that will never go away. We still feel it even if we choose not acknowledge it publicly every year.

Thursday, 9/12- 7.1 miles. The plan for today was to check out the Waterville Valley Mountain Race course. I had hoped to wait until it was mowed, but the mowing wasn't getting done. After talking to Jim Boule, who helped design the course, it sounded like I'd able to figure it out without it mowed so today was the day. Heavy rain was predicted around midday, but I hoped I'd beat it. Christin Doneski was supposed to join me but had to back out due to her chronic knee issues. So it was just Phoenix, me, 2 maps on my phone and a sheet of paper with written directions for the run.

In an effort to make the drive shorter, I decided to drive Sandwich Notch Rd over. And omg, I'm never driving that road again! It was awful. I literally thought I broke my car and would have to leave it at a car shop and hitchhike across the Kanc with Phoenix and my huge knife. Haha. I highly recommend avoiding this road. It wasn't even faster, only 10 miles shorter and totally not worth it. Never again. Haha. Sucks, though. Waterville Valley is 65 miles from my house by car and only 18 air miles. Can't get there from here, I guess.

We finally arrived at the ski area which was actually bustling with workers getting ready for the upcoming season. I thought it would be deserted. Two mowers were out on the slopes getting it cut...except on the course. Haha. The weather was actually gorgeous and would stay that way the whole time. I totally lucked out.

The course wasn't too difficult to follow. I switched back and forth between the course map and Google Maps to find my way. I did stop constantly to double check. I wasn't looking for hard, fast run anyway. I powerhiked a lot even if it was runnable, just to save my legs the stress. I honestly found the course to be pretty difficult. Climbing is not my strength, and there is so much of it. Way more than Loon. I found the run up Governor's Run to be a hideous, post-apocalyptic landscape. The aesthetics shouldn't have been an issue, but I'll admit that I found it very ugly. Not to mention really loose footing. Most of the uphill is daunting with loose footing that I even fell once on the way up from it. Getting to the last climb made it all worth it, though. So beautiful with a very European/alpine feel. The run down was a bit slow-going today, but I think I'll be able to bomb down it fine on race day. I did slip on my butt on one slope in the slippery grass, but that should be mowed and be less dicey. I can't say I'm a fan of the short climb back up at the end since anyone close could catch me there, but other than that, I think it's a fine course. 7.1 miles on my GPS. 1:33:12. 3,091ft of elevation gain.

Definitely a legit mountain championship race. However, I don't think it will be a course I do well on, even with the 2 mile downhill. The long climbing on the way up will put me so far back that I won't have enough time to catch up to the lesser-skilled downhill runners. There just won't be enough time. I'd love to finish 3rd master, but it's a long shot. It's the best I could finish, but I have no idea who might show up. So many names on the entrants list that I don't recognize. Oh well. I'll do my best. Just hoping to have the legs fully recovered by then.

Pics from the course:

The FUGLY section. Haha

Grass was packed down from Jim and Jeff's recon just enough to follow it through the overgrown sections.
I drove right back to Conway, but instead of taking a right off the Kanc to go home, I took a left to go to Saco River Brewing. I had eaten absolutely nothing so I only had one beer and took some cans to go. Phoenix was mad that I left her in the car while I went inside, but as soon as I came back out, I let her out of the car. She walked right to "her" picnic table and jumped up on the bench, happy to have gotten her way. Haha.

I was pretty beat the rest of the day. Phoenix, too.

Friday, 9/13- Millen Relay Day! 1.5 miles. I normal run the morning of the Millen Mile, but this year I decided only to take a walk with the dogs and do my upper body and abs workout instead. And yes, that wasn't a typo. Millen Mile. From 2011-2018, we have run the Millen Mile at the first home football game of the season during half time. Participation really started to wane the last few years so over the winter, Terry Ballou suggested we change it up to a 4x400 relay to increase participation and make a more engaging event for the crowd. We'd have 6 teams put together to make it even so that we'd all finish withing 5-10 seconds of each other. I was game even though I knew the 400m would not be my strength. I thought this would make it less serious and more fun and that I wouldn't care about the outcome. I turned out to be wrong. 1.5 weeks later and I'm still mad about it. Haha.

I arrived early as usual and found a good group already there. This was way more fun having more people to warm up with and talk to. I met up with my teammates, Thomas and Lori, and Roger was there somewhere. The plan for run order was Roger, Lori, Thomas and me. I wasn't a huge fan of running anchor since every other team had either their strongest runner or one pretty close to it. Thomas was the only one who knew the 4x400 strategy so we let him decide the order and he wanted to run 3rd. Even though I was a very weak runner, I was still the second fastest so that left me as anchor. I'm not sure it would have changed much to have me run 3rd since our team was the weakest team out there. As I looked around at the teams I realized that Terry's team was stacked with 3 fast runners compared to our one. Every other team had at least 2 fast runners if not more. We were the only team with just one fast runner.

There was really nothing I could do about it so I just warmed up as usual. The soreness in my calves and quads came back immediately so I was a little worried. I had originally hoped to run around 70 seconds, but I had a feeling that wasn't happening tonight.

Finally it was go time. The announcer introduced all the teams and to the surprise of Terry and me, he called out my team with a name we DID NOTagree on. Roger wanted to name us something totally obscure. "Project Mercury". No one ever agreed to that. The team name given to Terry was "Team Red". But all of sudden, he calls out "Project Mercury". Terry and I looked at each other like WTF. He went behind our backs and changed the name. Oh! And it was also Roger who complained about the team discrepancy and why he got moved to our team and Ricky taken away. So I was pretty annoyed with him at this point. I was happy to at least get acknowledged by the announcer for being the only one to have participated in every Millen Mile/Relay. 9 years now!

The race started and it went by quickly. First lap, Todd MacDonald came through half a lap ahead of everyone else. We were all shocked because he used to run the mile right around Terry and me. He's improved a lot. Since I was last, I stood by the white line timing everyone's lap. Roger came in at 82, leaving us 3rd from last after lap 1. Then Lori went coming through in 78. We were now last. But damn Thomas Chant. That kid was serious and fast. But unfortunately, it was only enough to pass back the 2 teams who had been behind us after lap 1. I didn't stand a chance even with his 57 because those 2 teams, just like every other team but ours and one other, saved their fastest guys for last. I had gone maybe only 50m before those two guys came flying by me so fast. The first 3 teams were so far ahead that I couldn't even see them. The only person I could see was Andrew Drummond. It's funny because it took a few seconds for me to realize that there was no one else behind me. By 100 meters, all I could see was Andrew way up ahead and I had absolutely no one. At the 200m, I was basically just jogging around the track all by myself. Not even in a race. It sucked so bad. Even teams, huh? Not even close! It was so wrong. I came through in 72 seconds and 4:51 for the team. The first team beat us by 31 seconds!!!! I was so mad that it had been rigged so unfairly. It was awful being stuck back there running by myself. Out of 28 people, I was the ONLY one who didn't get to actually race anyone. We were the only team who did not have at least two people run under 70 seconds.

Team 1 Splits:       58.52

My Team's Splits: 82.11

How is that even close to even? Had we kept Ricky on our team, we would have finished with a 4:30.77. So basically right in the mix as it was supposed to be.

Team results:

  1. 4:20.4
  2. 4:30.7
  3. 4:34.7
  4. 4:34.9
  5. 4:35.8
  6. 4:42.3
  7. 4:51.7

I hate sounding like a little bitch, and you may wonder why this is bothering me so much. It's because this was supposed to be fun event with everyone having an equal chance at being the winning team. I know it couldn't have been done perfectly, but the major discrepancy in finish times almost felt on purpose since the ones who made teams were on the winning one. I know. It's a small hometown race. It means nothing. But it did. Out of 8 Millen Miles, I didn't win 4, but that never left me upset or with a bad taste in my mouth. I was always excited to come back the next year. But tonight left me with that bad taste. And it also left me with no desire to do it again next year. Of course I'm sure I'll get talked into it, but it has now lost its luster. I didn't even care if we won. That really didn't bother me at all. It was just the way it was done that really turned me off. And then me running by myself the whole way. It just shouldn't have happened. All that being said, though, I'm not really angry at those who put it together. I know they really tried to put it together fairly, but then with last minute drop outs and fill ins, it made it hard to keep it even, but some of this should have really been obvious. Oh well. Rant off. Haha.

I wasn't too spoiled of a sport to go out with the group to Sea Dog afterwards. It was actually fun. And I think Terry did feel badly about the way it worked out in the end. It was a mistake, and hopefully, it will be easier to make the teams next year since she has this year to compare it to.

Saturday, 9/14- Zero miles. This turned out to be a much, much, much better day. Haha. I didn't run, as planned since I had the 50K the next day. I was still up early to do the Annual Jen's Friends Hill Climb Against Cancer that John and I do every year. This was the first year I've done it when the weather was so dreary, and the first year when John was extremely unhappy to be there...at first. Haha.

As with most walks/hikes, he actually perked right up and seemed to have a good time. It was chilly so we didn't stay long at the summit. Only for the first dance and then froze to death on the lift back down. This year, we were actually given free passes to one ride in the Adventure Park which made John's day even better. We went over there as soon as we got off the lift. The girl at the Giant Swing let us keep our passes to use them on a second ride on the Mountain Coaster, which was cool. We went through the food line after that then left. Just a gloomy day.

That sweatshirt was a hand-me-down from Emer O'Donoghue's boys.
It started raining shortly thereafter but it was perfect since I actually had a friend come over to hang out for a few hours. The rainy day made it a good one to hang out inside. I never have people over so this was nice and laid back.

The rest of the evening was more taking it easy so that I was rested for the 50K the next day. I was a little nervous about it because my head wasn't into racing, but I really needed the miles and hard effort to stay "in shape" for Cape Cod. The next blog post will just be for the 50K.

I know I'm way behind on the blog again. I've literally been too busy at work to finish this one, but here it is in all its glory. Haha. I know. Boring.