Waterville Valley 2019

Waterville Valley 2019

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

2019 National Mountain Running Championship- Waterville Valley

Photo by Andrew Drummond
Although not a goal race, it was a race I had been looking forward to all year. I've participated in every National Mountain Running Championship since 2011, except 2015 when it was in Bend, Or (and of course the year that I was my fastest). 7 National Champs. I love it. In the up-only years, I hope to finish in the top 30. For the up-down years, my goal is the top 20. This year was back to the up-down format and on a brand new course! I was so excited. Having previewed it, I knew it was going to be one of the most challenging National Championship courses I had ever done. I had no idea how it would really play out. Two years ago, I finished 9th overall. While I would have liked to finish top 10 again this year, I knew the competition was tougher and made top 15 my new goal. My real goal was to finish top 3 master female which I've managed to do the last two National Championships. I knew 1st wasn't an option since Kasie Enman just turned 40. 2nd would also be tough because I was going up against Sara Dunham, whom I'd never beat before. She has always crushed me. I felt strongly that I'd get at least 3rd master, but you just never know who could show up.

This course would be tricky. With nearly 5 miles of climbing, I had a feeling people I would normally catch on the downhill would be so far ahead that I wouldn't have enough time to catch them on the way down. Having previewed the course ahead of time, I at least knew what was coming so I had an advantage that I think helped me have a good race.

I arrived super early and got the same parking space as when I came out to do the course preview. This would end up being a great place to socialize since everyone walked by me to go up to the lodge. Christin Doneski, Rachel Flaksman, Kasie Enman, Jess Marion, Andrew Drummond. It was great. Kept me peppy and my mind off the race. The weather was PERFECT. Chilly pre-race, but it would end up being ideal for the race and then warm and sunny post-race. We seriously couldn't have asked for a better day than this.

Once I got my bibs on, I went back up to the lodge to use the bathroom and then warm up. The place was buzzing with tiny, young girls. I felt SO old and obese. Hahaha. I honestly didn't know who most of them were. I only recognized Karley Rempel because she and her boyfriend (now husband), Andy Wacker, came out for the vertical race at Cranmore the day after the championship race in 2017. Other than that, I had no idea who any of these people were. I was happy to have our usual crowd of New England women around to talk to and line up with. I made sure to spot my competition at the start so I could keep her in sight.

The start. I'm in between the first two girls in the photo.
The race started out quick. I just hung back. This first 3/4 mile was not the place to go crazy. It was a downhill followed by a gradual uphill on the service road before running all the way back down to where we started. It was way too easy to go out too fast. I was happy with the pace I was going, especially since I knew I'd catch back up anyway on the first short downhill. My competition got a huge jump on me here, so I honestly thought I didn't stand a chance at catching her. I did know that I would be catching a lot of these women on the next climb, though.

We passed through a cheering crowd of mostly men who were all gearing up for their race at 10am. It was fun running through here before the next climb up. (Sadly, the free race photos are once again so low-res that they're grainy, and the Watermark is so big that it's actually covering me in one of the photos. But I did like some of them so I'll put them on here, much to my chagrin. I don't get it. The photos have been paid for by the race. A resolution good enough for just Facebook isn't really too much to ask.)

This next climb is only about a quarter mile long, but it's wicked steep. Everyone in view was powerhiking it as I started my way up. I managed to pass a few women right off the bat and quickly gained on my masters competition. I would catch the one of the two women in between us on the next downhill, and from there on, Sara Dunham and I would run really close to each other for the rest of the race. It was only briefly in passing other people on the way down the last 2 miles of the race when we weren't one place apart. The one person I wanted to compete with and we would end up getting that the entire race. Our own competition within the competition. And it was close the whole way. You can't ask for much more than that. I had that last year at Loon, as well, with another masters woman running just ahead of me until I caught her at the end. This is what I actually missed at this past Loon Mountain Race. It made today a much better race.

After the steep climb, the course cut across at a downhill angle before turning to go back up. I was right behind a woman who looked a little like Sarah Canney at first, but then I realized it wasn't her. I thought Sarah was racing, but soon realized that she didn't show up. She would have been very close on this climb if she had. This climb veered into the woods for the only real singletrack on the entire course. It didn't take me long to pass this woman and I now found myself right behind Sara.

Sara got a really good lead on me on this longer downhill so I was already telling myself there was no way I'd beat her on the long 2-mile downhill at the end. Surprisingly, though, I was moving faster than her on the climbs. As soon as we turned sharply right for the steep, ugly climb up Governor's Run, I was right behind her and slowly gaining. I was surprised to see Corey Dowe just up ahead as well. I could see Kassandra Marin and Jess Marion not too far up, but I knew they would move on much farther ahead as we climbed. We still had about 3-ish miles of climbing left. It was a long way. I powerhiked nearly all of Governor's Run which I'm just better at than running at that certain grade. Right around mile 3, I was suddenly right with Sara. I passed her easily, but this didn't mean I ran away with it. I think this actually made her push harder because she was literally 10 yards back from me the ENTIRE remainder of the climb. Fortunately, I never had to look back to know this since she was lightly clearing her throat about every minute. Not too loudly, but just enough to know where she was.

I know this photo is already in the blog, but I can't get over how great of a shot it is. Andrew really has an eye for a great photo. With all of his backcountry skiing and mountain running, he really gets it. He takes some amazing photos in the winter. This is probably one of my favorite running photos ever.

That's Sara right behind me.
I felt really good and strong for this whole climb. This is how I trained nearly all summer. The Friday Night Vertical Series probably played a huge role in today's race. My fitness level is spot on. I honestly felt amazing.

I started catching up quickly to Corey Dowe and two other women. That shouldn't have happened. Corey is so much stronger than me on the climbs. I think part of it might be that she went out too fast, and the other just may be not enough mountain training on such long climbs yet. I think she will come back next year and surprise everyone on the uphill-only course. She'll have a few months of mountain running under her belt since she just moved up here. I still never could catch her today, though, but she was about 15 seconds ahead of me for the last 1.5 miles. She would end up making up for this lack of mountain fitness on the way down, though. That's where she destroyed everyone. Haha.

This was a long climb up, but knowing the course made it easier since I knew that it wouldn't let up again until we got to the top. I still don't know how I managed to stay ahead of Sara, but there is no doubt that she was pushing me to keep moving, and I'm sure I was pulling her along as well.

The course only flattened out briefly here before the final climb. Photo by Dave Dunham
One final climb to go. Luckily, the footing today wasn't as soft and loose as my recon day. A light rain the evening before had packed the dirt just enough to make it more solid. I was really thankful for this on the last climb because 2 weeks prior, it was like running through sand.

As we hit the top, Corey finally put on the heat and was out of view. We ran a short section across the top, maybe .2 miles before a very, very short single track which dumped us out at the top of the slope and began the LONG 2 miles of steep downhill. The woman I had been catching along with Corey turned out to be Karley Rempel. I passed her as soon as we started the downhill. Corey was already almost out of view. With Sara hot on my tail I just let myself go. I immediately said goodbye to my left big toe since I had had to go with the La Sportiva shoes that shrunk. It would end up being worth the toe beating, and I just ran through that pain. There were only two women in view ahead of me, but they were pretty far at first. Christin got this shot just as we came down to the short flat part again.

If you look closely at the kid holding out a cup, you can see Sara's head just coming into view.
I ran my ass off from here. This type of crazy, steep downhill is my strength, and I so wanted to catch at least one of the women in front of me while also holding off Sara. I kept expecting her to catch me, but at some point, I got a good lead on her, but it wouldn't be enough to slack off. I was running haphazardly just hoping for the best. I would end up running mile 7 in 6:34!

Andrew's photo. It's way steeper than it looks.

As we approached the black diamond slope where I had nearly fallen during the recon run, I was able to scoot by the woman in front of me. I nearly fell in the exact same spot that I had fallen before. This was steep and slippery, but I stayed upright. I was catching the next woman, but, they just haaaaaaad to add in this evil uphill in the last half mile. I was running so scared, though, that as soon as I turned the corner, I just kept running. I ran the whole way up this as fast as I could....which probably wasn't that fast. Haha. But had this been early on in the race, I probably would have powerhiked it. But I was so close to the end! I couldn't get caught here!! 2nd master was going to be mine. The climb gave the woman ahead of me just enough distance that I couldn't catch her. After a quick steep downhill, the rest of it leveled off before the turn to the finish. Just as I approached the turn, I looked back and there was Sara! I knew I'd beat her, but damn, she was close!! I didn't let up, though, and ran hard right through the finish! 12th overall and 2nd master in 1:13:11.

Corey Dowe and I were 13th and 14th at the top. Corey would end up running down insanely fast to end up in 6th!!! Pretty amazing!! She definitely ran the fastest downhill time of everyone. She didn't put it on Strava, but based on my time and her being about 15 seconds ahead of me at the top, she had to have run it in under 12 minutes. We were saying that we wish they had a timing mat at the top (like Upper Walking Boss) at Loon to get the uphill/downhill splits. Strava isn't quite accurate since Corey Kasie and at least one other woman who's missing from the segment ran the downhill faster than me, but I still like seeing this. Haha.

Full Women's Results. I was super psyched with how I did today. Very happy with a 12th place finish. I ran the best I could today and beat the one person I wanted to beat. I'm really happy that she was there. I'm sure it made both of our races that much better. I could not have asked more of myself today. And my legs were definitely feeling it. They were literally shaking when I finished. Totally destroyed. And I train on this type of stuff so I can only imagine what some people are still feeling like over a week later. Haha.

Kasie and I showing off our masters back bibs.
I watched the men start then walked to my car to get out of my sweaty clothes. I realized immediately that I had bought very mismatching clothes so I had an excuse to buy a race shirt. Luckily, Karen Dunn found a medium that was still left so I was all set. I know it's silly, but it was severely mismatching. Haha. 

I had planned to walk up and watch the men, but it was too late by the time I was done changing so I hung out at the finish which was just as fun. We got to watch Tim Van Orden come through the finish and then literally collapse at our feet. His legs were spent. That's seriously how much pounding the legs took on the 2 miles of downhill. 

I had enough time to grab some Trinity Belgian Strawberry beer from Steve Brightman before heading back up to the awards. It was more socializing than anything. I had some good people to hang out with. Brandon Newbould talked me into staying for the raffle, and I won some granola. Woot. Haha. It was after 1pm by the time it was all over. 

Locals club: Jonathan Miller, Dave McDermott, me and Rich Fargo

I finally snagged a photo of the two Jeff Walker's! Cool that I knew both of them before they met. Then I got to introduce them at Exeter in 2017. Now the official Team Jeff Walker photo has been taken!
I didn't know we had 3 CMS women to field a team. I knew Rachel Flaksman was there, but another woman, Alyssa, had shown up to get us 2nd for the Open and Masters women's team.

Of course, it only took Steve Brightman sending me a text to convince me to meet him, Jennifer, the girls and the Coggshell's at Mulligan's in the Waterville Valley village for food and beers. I hadn't planned this at all. I wanted to go home, but I'm easily swayed by beer and food. Haha. It was a fun time.

The drive back wasn't too bad. I only had to pass 2 cars on the Kanc. Driving the Kanc in the summer and fall really brings out my road rage problem. Haha.

Once I got home, John and I took Phoenix on a walk from the house to the Waldorf School trail loop. My legs needed to be loosened up again after the drive so it felt good, but man were my quads hurting already.

The rest of the evening was a lazy one. I was happy that I had the upcoming racing break. I need the recovery. 

Well, before we get to the week, I'll give an update on the Bryan situation. Last Wednesday's barrage of hateful texts continued into the next day. These messages were less hateful, but I got to the point where I needed to do something about the situation. He's just off the deep end of reality. Like genuinely mentally ill. Bouncing from one thought to another, often saying the complete opposite of what he had said minutes before. He was neurotic and exhibiting extreme paranoia. Then he got to where he threatened to stop paying for John's school unless I let him see John or have it in writing that he wasn't allowed to. I was literally pacing the house. I felt like I was dealing with a mentally unstable person. I had asked him to stop texting me. He didn't. Finally, I made the decision to go to the court and get a restraining order. 

I had to do something. And it felt fucking awful doing it. I still feel awful about it. He's mentally ill. Everything in his head is real to him; it's his reality. So he's just going to feel attacked. I feel horrible, but I couldn't take it anymore. But it does NOT make me feel good to have done this. There is no #iwin. I hate it. It should never have come to this. I'm just hoping this will lead to him getting help, even if it's by force. He needs therapy. I can't trust him to be with John until he does. I waited 3 hours at the court for a judge to sign the paperwork. I've been awarded temporary full custody of John. Bryan has no visitation at this time. The hearing is in about a month. So now, he's going to court for two separate things. He's going to be overwhelmed. I'm genuinely sad for him. I've never really thought of him as being dangerous, but after having witnesses to his craziness tell me he sounds like someone with the potential to be dangerous, I had to start trusting others' judgement. Mine is too skewed by sympathy and those memories from our past that were good, the photos of him playing with a very young John. Both smiling. Him obviously loving his son. It literally makes me want to cry at how it all turned out. I still wonder if I did the right thing. The last 4 days haven't been bad, but I have this underlying sadness about it all. I'm mentally tapped out right now. This situation just sucks.

Like, seriously. Doesn't this choke you up? It does me. How did it all go to such shit? Mental illness. I wish I knew why. Is it PTSD from being deployed for 15 months in Iraq? Is it something he was born with? I have no idea. But, anyway, I'm still waiting for him to be served. He currently has Phoenix with him and hasn't brought her back to my house. I don't know where he is or why they haven't been able to serve him for 5 days now. He was at work all weekend. I'm listening to the radio at work hoping to hear something. I need my dog back first, though. I'm stressing right now.

8 days later......

Ok, so I'm back to writing this blog after taking 1.5 weeks away from it. Things have been crazy up and down. I'm so stressed out. Bryan was finally served the next day after what I last wrote. He flipped his lid. The next day, in an effort to get him Chill for the day without violating the restraining order failed because he replied to my message then drove over to the Conway PD and turned himself in for violating it. I wasn't going to turn him in since his reply stated that he needed help. But it turned out that this is just some game to him to "prove that the system is broken." I'm pretty sure Bryan is the only one who has any idea what he's talking about. So he got himself arrested on purpose. I tried to get an IEA (Involuntary Emergency Admission) based on what he said about needing help. I knew it was a long shot because we deal with this a lot as EMTs. He fell just short of saying "the words" to qualify for an IEA so it was denied. The court even wants him to get a psychiatric evaluation, but they couldn't force it either. Anyway, Bryan got the restraining order hearing moved up to tomorrow so I've been preparing for this since Monday. I spent almost 5 hours working on it on Monday and then another 2 hours today tweaking it. I'm still not sure how this is going to go. At least I won't look like the moron I did when I went to court for the Michael Weinberg restraining order. I had no idea what to do then since I'd never been through this before. But that was easy to wing it since Michael had threatened to rape and kill me and I had it in writing. Bryan's will be a little more difficult. This time I will be reading my written statement while referencing the documents I provide the court. I've gone through every emotion over the last week, from the sadness to anger to numbness and now back to sadness. I'm questioning it all, too. Am I doing the right thing? I keep reminding myself how I felt the day that I got the restraining order. I felt it was my only option to keep John safe and the only option to hopefully somehow force Bryan into therapy. I'm trying to see this through his point of view and it makes me sad because I know he's hurting and confused and angry. But I see no other way. He made my life a living hell the last 2.5 years of our marriage. He was mentally abusive for even longer than that. I only stayed because I didn't think I could make it on my own financially. I thought I was going to be free after our divorce. I was so optimistic about life, but he continued to make my life a living hell after that. Eventually, his tirades drifted from me onto John and I just can't let that happen anymore. This restraining is more to protect John than me, but with the end result hopefully convincing Bryan that he actually needs to get the help that he asked me for last Wednesday. 

Hopefully, I'll get back to updating the blog next week, but I've been so out of it since Bryan got arrested for the child endangerment charge. I haven't been able to think straight. I'm stuttering at times trying to speak. I'm so tired that I'm falling asleep early, only to wake up in the middle of the night with my mind churning. And, I sadly have to admit, it isn't just the Bryan issue. I once again let the wrong guy in my life only to once again be treated like a piece of trash. This is someone I've known for a long time, but I guess I didn't really know him at all. I'm glad that it was very short-lived, but now things are just awkward since our paths still cross. That's one of the reasons I've tried not to get involved with anyone here. Too small of a town. And I didn't need this childish game playing right now. I don't get it. He just totally confused the hell out of me. Luckily, this will be easy to move on from, but it still sucks because I just want to know why he ever pursued me in the first place. Oh well.

I'll keep the week recap very brief. Not sure I'll even remember any of it anyway at this point, but I'll try.

September 23-29, 2019- 28.3 miles. 6,745ft of elevation gain. I had to keep the mileage very low to continue recovering so I would race well at Waterville. As you've already read, it worked!

Monday, 9/23- Zero miles. Didn't do anything today at work. Just rested.

Tuesday, 9/24- 6.4 miles. In the morning, I took Phoenix on a hike up Mt Potash. Fairly short and easy. 4.1 miles total. Got some awesome sky photos with weather moving in. Foliage was just starting.

That afternoon, I met up with Corey Dowe for a run at the Moat Mineral Site. She didn't have a lot of time so I took her a 6.4 mile loop just so she could get an idea of the main trails. I had a really hard time keeping up with her. Haha. She was talking away while I was struggling to breathe. Running with her would probably be a good thing to do more often. My schedule doesn't make it easy to do that, though. This was my first test of the Speedcross 5. I twisted my ankle twice. I knew right away I wasn't wearing them at Waterville.

Wednesday, 9/25- Zero miles. 2 mile walk on the trail out back.

Thursday, 9/26- 6.2 miles. I gave the Speedcross 5 shoes another go. I'll admit I'm getting used to them, but I still don't really like them. I ran out and back to the Middle Mountain Trail, up Middle Mt and over towards Rattlesnake where I ran down the old unmarked trail to Spot's Pool and back to the car. 1,583ft of elevation gain. 1:13:48. 

I had brought Phoenix to run with me, but she adamantly refused to go so I left her in the car at the trailhead. I don't think she was feeling very good. When I got back she wanted to take a walk so we did a mile walk on the RR tracks. Saw this cool fungus on the RR ties. 

I got in an upper body and abs workout that afternoon. Later that night, John had fun swaddling Phoenix. I'm not sure she thought it was very fun. Haha.

Friday, 9/27- 5 miles. I'm back to picking up overtime shifts, mostly at Club Motorsports. I was on the ambulance alone today which was nice, but my morning was frustrating. I don't have enough time to do the truck check before leaving for the detail so I always bring the sheet along with me to do it there. Well, 2.5 hours later, I was seething. That ambulance was a DISASTER! My second worst truck check ever. The worst being the one I did on Christmas last year. And, not surprisingly, it was the one of the same people as the Christmas truck check who left me this disaster. I sent the manager a photo of the check sheet. He made this other person come get the truck to make him fix it, leaving me with one not much better. The rest of the day was great. My ambulance co-worker, Mike, also works at the track so we hung out chatting most of the shift. It was a gorgeous day. I got in 5 miles on the track at lunch. 38:59. 1,004ft of elevation gain.

I hadn't even finished it when I took this photo.

John was home for a little while after I got home until some friends picked him up for the night. Funny. I used to imagine this day when John would be hanging out with friends overnight. I pictured myself finally being able to go out on a weekend night. But, nope. Sat on the couch alone watching TV just like I always do. Haha.

Saturday, 9/28- 3 miles. I was up really early to get 3 miles in on the treadmill before heading over to the 100 Acre Challenge race at Believe in Books. I've been helping Richie Blake out with the timing for the last 4 years now I think. Usually John does the kids race and then we leave, but this time I was able to stay for the whole thing and help out Richie with the regular race. He doesn't usually need much help with this one, but there was still something easy I could help with. It was another gorgeous day, and I so wished I was doing the race, but I do really enjoy helping with the timing. We got a free beer afterward, too, so that was good. Haha.

I don't love pumpkin beers, but I'm willing to try them all. This one was decent.
John, the dogs and I took a short walk at the Albany Town Forest when I got home, then John and I stopped at Cheese Louise's permanent stand on the Kanc for grilled cheese and ice cream. 

Sunday, 9/29- 7.5 miles. And we're back where this blog post started.

1 comment:

  1. Great race and recap, Leslie! I agree that the profile shot of you is really great, as well that the final uphill in 1/2 mile was evil! Thanks again for the "Team Jeff Walker" photo and introduction back in '17 at Exeter Trail Race. Good memory!