Blackout 10K 2020

Blackout 10K 2020

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Best Winter Ever

 


After the last few years of hating winter, I'm finally able to love it again. Through 2016, I could afford downhill season passes for John and me, my snowblower worked right, and I had yet to deal with my chronic high hamstring tendinopathy that would end up ceasing my snowshoe running/racing. The years following that I could no longer afford the cost of winter sports that I enjoyed. My snowblower was broken. And the HHT put an end to snowshoe running and racing. All the things I loved in winter were no longer a thing, and I spent hours of my days shoveling my long-ass driveway with a push shovel. Those of you who followed along in 2019's winter would probably recall that I kept track of how many hours I shoveled that winter. Over 26 hours total! I hated winter so much. But now with Ryan in my life and the ability to afford the gear and passes again, I'm loving winter again! 

We've been getting out on skis so much that I'm running less... and I don't care. I have nothing to train for since Runamuck 50K was postponed. Ryan still can't run with his hip issue either so it naturally made sense for us to enjoy the skiing while we can. We've been XC skiing and AT skiing. After giving up on skate skiing 2 years ago since I just couldn't figure it out, I finally gave it another shot. Last weekend, Ryan and I took the skate skis over to Bretton Woods. Ryan was so awesome in showing me how to skate ski that I just suddenly picked it up. I'm not great at it, but I have the proper technique down now so hopefully I can get better. The skiing was amazing with the new snow. I couldn't believe that with just a little help from Ryan, I was able to finally get it. He's a good "coach". I'm super slow and need to build up strength, but it was really fun. Bretton Woods is awesome. My first time there, and I can't wait to go back.




Another first this past weekend was a ski down the Sherbie. I'm a terrible downhill skier at a resort so I was pretty nervous to ski down the Sherbie. The skin up was good, and we had the trail to ourselves. Once we got up there, I was feeling pretty scared to death. I'm just not a good skier and had no idea what to expect. Ryan was really good and patient with me. I don't know how he was since it took me 24 minutes to get down it. Haha. He had to coach me through some of the rough spots by showing me how to do things so I kind of got it, but I still wasn't good at it and would panic every time I got going too fast. Some parts were fun. Others were super scary. I can't wait to go back, though. I want to get better at this stuff so it's fun and not scary. Haha.

Ryan fixing my boots for me...


There's that smile again...


The weekend before was a little rough. Ryan and I planned an easy run up Middle and Peaked. Right off the bat, Ryan's hip started hurting him so he ended up totally miserable on the run. I actually ran ahead for most of the run, and he had to cut the end short by walking out to North-South Rd while I ran back to the car at Cranmore. He was in a lot of pain so that marked the end of running for him for awhile. He's been getting out skiing a lot instead by using up his vacation time and taking Wednesdays off so he's actually having a great winter, too.

The next day was better when we checked out the Hayes-Copp ski loop. Unfortunately, the snow was still thin and a snowmobile had destroyed the ski trail, but it was actually a really fun day. Made up for the frustrating run the day before. 



Another weekend, Ryan bought lift tickets to Waterville Valley so we could spend some time working on my downhill. Unfortunately, it turned out to be the coldest, windiest day. We froze on the lift, and then the wind blowing up the ski slope as we went down was so strong that it was slowing me down. We made it only 3 runs before we called it quits and moved onto our other plan for the day to skin up Tecumseh and then ski back down the ski resort since we had tickets. This was really nice. WAY too many people, but definitely much warmer and more fun overall. The summit was frigid so we only stayed for a minute. We then skied over to the top of the ski slope where we froze to death in the wind while we transitioned. I almost completely missed it, but Ryan looked up and saw a snowshoe hare standing right near us at the edge of the woods. By the time I looked up, I only saw it briefly as it hopped away. It was huge. The ski down was cold but pretty fun since we got to do a full run from the top.





The next day was cold but less windy. Ryan was still running then so we ran up North and Middle Tripyramids via Pine Bend Brook Trail. The first two miles were packed down, but the wind had completely covered the rest of the climb in quite a bit of powder so it was more of a rough hike up the rest of the way. We hit crazy cold wind on Middle Tripyramid, but I still made Ryan stop for a photo. Haha. I don't know how he's this patient with me. Haha. The run down was really fun and fast in the powder. Gorgeous day overall.



Once we finally got some snow, I've been able to get John out to Black Mt to use our season passes. I just do some uphill loops while he hits the lift. I'm amazed at how good of a skier he's become. I'd like to get him over there more, but he has really bad in-grown big toenails that he's having surgically removed tomorrow. Hoping they heal up more. 




We were season pass holders at Black Mt for 5 years (2012-2016). I've always loved that mountain. It was just like old times going mid-week. Less than 10 people on the mountain and the ability to back your car right up to the slope. It may not have the best lifts or snowmaking, but I still love it. Ryan and I have been hitting most of the Friday Night Lights "Races" this season. Missed two but had planned to make most of them. I have to say they've been a bit disappointing. Part of it was the lack of snow so the lack of a good course, but it's also become completely informal. I still love the race aspect for the workout even though I come in close to last. But it's no longer timed, and everyone is hanging out way too close together on the deck after. I don't particularly care to be hanging out in groups just yet so we have just been leaving as soon as we finish. We had still planned to hit all but one of the rest of them, but our experience at the last one this past Saturday (the race was moved from Friday to Saturday to coincide with the Last Skier Standing) wasn't a good one at all, so we've decided not to go back. It's just not the event it used to be so I'm all set. I'd rather not get off my 10-hour shift at Memorial to rush up there for an informal "race" when we can just go do something else on our own. I've never fit in with that crowd anyway so it's no loss for me. 

On a side note, speaking of my 10 hour shift at Memorial, I'm struggling with it a little bit. My Friday crew has been awesome. Fun co-workers which makes all the difference. We all randomly showed up wearing the same Boggs boots. We have the same sense of humor. That's what gets us through the day. So it isn't that. When I started at Memorial in March, I was hired on the spot without even an interview. Orientation was abbreviated. They wanted us on board fast as temporary employees. Covid-19 was suddenly spreading across the country. People were scared. Hospitals were desperate and getting prepared for mass sickness and death. I didn't hesitate to sign on. I knew I was taking a risk. We all thought we'd no doubt get the virus. We all felt like we were risking our lives to save other people. THAT is what I signed up for. THAT is why I took the job. But then... we just sat there. In the Covid tent. No patients. We hula-hooped, painted, shot the shit. It was all a bust. The tent closed. We got moved to hospital security, manning the Jeep to stop people heading to the ED. I'd do a few 4 hour shifts there a week. I assumed my job at Memorial was coming to an end. But, then they opened the Covid Testing Center and that would be our new job. At this point, there were only 3 of us original people left. We only did asymptomatic testing and pre-op testing. The days were only 6-7 hours. Easy enough. Two of us techs could handle it just fine. 

Then, suddenly, Covid made its way up here and the numbers climbed rapidly. We moved up to the "Covid Cottage" by the ED. We still did only asymptomatic and pre-ops while the two people in the ED Triage were doing symptomatic. Meanwhile the ED began to get busy. Insanely busy. The two triage people started doing over 100 symptomatic Covid tests a day. It got to the point where they needed to make a change so they gave us all of the Covid tests. They hired on new EMTs, and a nurse had to join as a 3rd provider due to the symptomatic patients possibly needing an evaluation. Our days went to 10 hour days and usually 110-120 tests a day. I was happy to do it even though the long days were not ideal. I wanted to do it to help people. But then Governor Baker of Massachusetts tightened the ship on people traveling into Massachusetts. Negative Covid test or 14 day quarantine. This changed everything. We still Covid test people who are symptomatic and pre-op, but what has changed are the tourists. 75% of our tests on Fridays are done on Massachusetts residents coming up to ski. Living life like nothing has changed. All in the name of a vacation. Now, don't get me wrong. Most of these people are the same ones every Friday, and we've gotten to know them all. They're very nice and genuinely thankful for us being there for them. And I would never, ever be rude to them. I actually like seeing the familiar faces, but the last few weeks have really bothered me because this ISN'T what I signed up for. THIS isn't about helping people. We're mostly just swabbing people so they can vacation like there isn't a pandemic going on. Just like the people who are sitting maskless in our crowded restaurants all weekend. Covid tesing in the name of the vacation. I'm not even allowed by two of my jobs to go outside of NH except to Maine and Vermont. Anywhere else has to be job-related (i.e. ambulance transfer). I just don't understand why people have continued to live their lives like before when Covid-19 is still a problem. I guess being on my side of it is different. I don't know. I'm grateful to be able to do this job. I like it, but the why is shifting. And that's what's bothering me. I signed up to help people live not to help people vacation. But it is what it is. I'll continue to do my job. I'll continue to be assaulted, grabbed, pushed and told that I'm not doing it right "because that's not what the guy did last time" because of the 25% of the people who are there for a real medical reason. I'm still a part of helping people. And THAT is what I signed up for. And, for the record, I'm good at it, and I'm doing it right. I've done it over 1000 times. And I'll do it over 1000 times more until the pandemic is under control. I look forward to that more than anything.

Photo of our Covid Cottage from the security camera. You can see me standing by the post...


Work, in general, has really been kicking me in the ass lately. We've been getting our asses handed to us on Mondays with transfers so trying to catch up on sleep is impossible before the next 24 hour 911 shift on Wednesday. One week, I went from my Memorial shift right to Conway for the overnight shift. Josh and I got our asses kicked with 3 back to back 911s. I decided to cut back to only picking up one Conway shift this month. The 70 hour weeks are rough. Last week, doing transfers in the big snowstorm was brutal. A State Trooper almost caused an accident by cutting right in front of me to pull into the parking area as I was coming out of the toll. I almost t-boned him. The roads weren't plowed and all you could see was the white-out in front of you. I have no problem driving an ambulance in that stuff, but your eyes start to shut down after awhile. And the other people on the road are scary. Our windshield wipers kept freezing up, too. At one point they just stopped so I had to lean out the window and bang the ice off. So risky to be sending patients out like that unless it's critical.



Fast-forward to a week later than when I wrote everything above this line. _____ Haha. Way too much stuff to write about so I'll just share a quick recap of our adventures and other life stuff. Nothing shocking or super exciting in this post, which is how I like it.

Before Ryan had to completely stop running we got in a few good runs. Moosilauke was one of them. Perfect trail conditions for microspikes. The summit was freezing with gusting wind so we quickly took a photo and moved on. Awesome run.



Took the dogs on a walk by the Saco River on a rare warm-ish day.


Got a late start for a lap up Wildcat Mountain Ski area one Sunday morning, but somehow we didn't get turned around. Only one patroller, of the many who passed us, stopped us and asked that we transition just before the top of the lift so that his boss wouldn't see us. I thought that was pretty cool of him. Learned our lesson on getting a late start, though. Just 5 minutes earlier and we would have had the descent to ourselves. Instead it was with hoards of people. Oops. Beautiful, cold morning above the clouds, though.



Took Phoenix on a snowshoe hike up the Doubleheads. Broke out the trail to South Doublehead. Wind was brutal. This was just before we got our first real snowstorm so the ski trail was not in shape for skiing. I wasn't ready for that anyway. Haha.



 
Barking at the cabin...



Another good run day. I was headed up Kearsarge North for a run, and Ryan came home from work for an extended lunch so I told him he could join me. The trail wasn't in perfect shape for speed, but it was close enough for a decent run. Ryan decided to sport a mustache for a few weeks. I actually really liked it, but he finally got sick of it. Haha.



We've decided to start doing FND instead of FNL on Friday nights after I get out of work at Memorial (barring the nights I go right to Conway Fire for the overnight shift). Friday Night Date instead of Friday Night Lights. XC ski out in the quiet woods. I got some cool photos our first night. My phone died this past week so I didn't get any photos. This has been really fun. Kind of funny to call it a date night when we are together doing things every day and night when we aren't working, and we live together, but it's the only time we go out late in the dark to ski. So it's different. Ryan needs some backcountry xc ski gear, though. The only gear I can one-up him on. Haha.




Ryan has been trying to burn up the vacation time he never got to use over the last year so he's been taking Wednesdays off to do a lot of skiing. He's been lucky to have great snow and weather for the most part. Gabe Flanders joins him for most of the day so Ryan can get some bro time and no novice chick crimping his style. Haha. Gabe took the photo below of Ryan one recent Wednesday. I enjoy keeping up with his adventures while I'm at work. Brings some excitement to the day. 


Ryan and Gabe had a good ski day at Mt Cardigan one Wednesday so Ryan decided to take me over there the following weekend to do Duke's Trail. We stopped at Waterville Valley first to skate ski for an hour. I thought I'd gotten it down pretty well the week before, but today really sucked. It was like I was starting all over again. It was super frustrating for me. I need to get out and just work on my technique over and over without poles. I was really glad Cardigan ended up being great to turn my frustration around.

I wasn't nervous this time around as we ascended since I was able to see the entire downhill beforehand and it didn't look so bad. Ryan brought beers, cheese, salami and crackers for the transition at the snowfield which was really awesome. I struggled a little bit on the snowfield part, but once I got down below the trees, I was much more at ease and had a really fun ski down. The conditions were perfect. I also find it really helpful watching Ryan ski ahead of me because it helps me see where to go. He's been helping me work on my technique with downhill skiing, too. I had no idea how to do actually do it "right". It kind of bums me out that I didn't really grow up skiing  so that I could learn before I had fear. I did start skiing at age 12, but then it was only once a year trips with friends without any instruction whatsoever. But better late than never. And I have the best "coach".





The day after Cardigan, we took Phoenix on a xc ski in the Bolles Reserve. Conditions were great for it. From there we went back home to change out the xc skis for the AT skis and headed to the Black Mt Ski Trail. We both planned to go hard on the first lap and do a second lap together. We got to the trailhead just as the other skiers were leaving which made me happy not to have an audience for my disaster downhill skills. Haha. We both got in a good workout for the first climb. Once again I got to see the whole downhill since it was also the uphill. I honestly didn't think it was that bad except for a few thin spots over some brooks. I'll be fine. Got up there in a decent time. Stopped at the cabin not realizing Ryan had gone up farther. Once I realized he had, I headed up. Luckily he stopped me early. He turned around before the summit because he didn't want me to go up too far since the trail was really narrow, and he knew I'd have a hard time. He made sure I was ok with him going on without me for a speedy downhill. I thought I was totally fine so I told him I'd be ok. Well, it turned out that I was wrong. Ryan got down in under 4 minutes. Me? 35!! Haha. Omg. It was the worst. It was so narrow for a newb like me that I panicked on nearly every turn. I got so frustrated and mad, even had some outbursts and almost cried. I finally made it down, quads on fire because my technique sucks. 

Ryan had waited for awhile then got worried that I hadn't come down yet so he headed back up. He'd gone just over half a mile when I came down. I was really upset with myself for sucking so bad, but I was going to do it again, dammit. So we skied all the way down then headed back up. This time at a casual pace. Just being with Ryan put me at ease so instead of still being on the verge of tears, I was laughing. Some of it was nervous laughter since I knew what I was about to do again, but having him there made me feel more comfortable...even if that just meant he'd drag my dead body off the side of the tree and down to the hearse before rigor set in. Hahaha. I was a little scared. I'll be honest. 

Once at the cabin, instead of transitioning on the ski trail with Ryan, I stopped at the cabin which must have been below the start of the downhill Strava segment. Luckily, we had Ryan's downhill time for an accurate time. We took a photo then Ryan went first. This would be SO helpful for me since I was able to watch where he went and try to follow it. It began to feel more comfortable even though I still struggled in a lot of places. I wasn't scared or angry anymore, though. I was smiling... most of the way. We came across 3 people sitting in the trail who had skinned up behind us. I slowed way down so that I didn't run them over and told them I wasn't a good skier as I passed. I'm sure that was glaringly obvious as I went past them flailing down the hill. Must have been really funny to watch. Haha. As hard as it still was, this second run was so much better. It was 20 minutes faster! Just over 15 minutes this time. I can't say it was fun like Cardigan, but I was definitely feeling a little more confident thanks to Ryan's help.



A posthole transition. Haha...


With my man before the second downhill of the Black Mt Ski Trail. Love him soooo much.


Here's a video that Ryan took of his speedy downhill. I broke out the GoPro so he put it to good use. Video is a little grainy, though, so I have to play with the settings.



Yesterday, I dropped John off at his friend's house in Meredith and just stayed in the area until it was time to pick him up. So I took the dogs on a nice snowshoe hike up Red Hill. Didn't see another person. No view, but the solitude was worth it.





Random pics from January up until yesterday...

Jeff and I were coming back after dropping off a patient at Memorial when I realized we were right behind John's school bus as it was dropping him off. So I followed him and yelled out the window, "Hey, kid, want some candy?" Haha. He got in and I gave him a ride home. He took a photo of himself in the back of the ambulance.


I've still been hitting King Pine for some ski laps after work once or twice a week in the morning after work. I often just stay in my uniform for it. Haha. The pants are pretty warm and so is the jacket. Saves time, even if I look like a weirdo. In this pic you get a glimpse of my old boots that I ended up HATING. Fischer My Ranger Free 90. Awful. So heavy and they rubbed blisters on both feet. It was really hard to "race" at FNL in them. They were honestly ruining my joy. As luck would have it, Ryan just happened to catch a post on the FB Skimo gear sale page that had just been posted for a pair of barely used La Sportiva Starlet AT boots for sale for $150. I messaged the woman right away and bought them. She was super cool and mailed them out within 2 hours, and I had the boots in two days. These boots are SO much lighter by over a pound per foot! What a huge difference they have made the last 2 weeks. These boots originally sold for an msrp around $700! I really made out. 



John asked for a gaming computer for Christmas, and it finally arrived a few weeks after. Those things are pricey so I pulled together Christmas money sent to both of us by family and was able to buy it. It's really cool, and John loves it! It has neat lights inside. I came in his room to bug him with selfies after he set it up.




Chill, on what has become a dog futon. I can't keep him off of it.


Ryan finally got me back for taking and posting photos of him sleeping. Hahahaha! 


Phoenix with her goofy chihuahua face.


Ryan is so good to the dogs. They love him. Phoenix searches for him when we get home from walks. 


Took the dogs xc skiing on Town Hall Rd. A little slick, but we got a good 4 miles in.




Couch princess...


Phoenix was all fired up and barking at nothing...


My office in the back of the ambulance while we were stuck in Portland for a bit waiting to take our patient from Maine Med back to Memorial. Gave me time to finish up my report.


Back at Maine Med that same night for middle of the night EMT coffee. Brutal drive back to Tamworth.


Will someone please explain to me the invasion of personal space problem people seem to have? Empty lot. Without fail, the only other car that arrives parks right next to me! Why?! 


Awesome full moon at a Friday Night Lights ski in January. This was the only good course this season. I'm sure there will be even better ones to come, but we won't be a part of it.


I made Ryan take a photo of us when John walked into the kitchen wearing the same shirt as me. Haha. Twinsies! He ran back to his room after this. And yes, those are sheep pajama pants. Beggers can't be choosers when perusing the sale rack at Walmart.


Came home from work one morning to flowers Ryan had bought me the night before. How did I get so lucky? I ask myself that all of the time. And how was I totally blind to him when he was right there the whole time? Better late than never. 


Had my Wilderness EMT refresher at SOLO 2 weeks ago. It's an 8-hour Wild Day that I have to do to recert my WEMT every two years. Hard to believe this was my 5th refresher! 10 years this June since I got my WEMT! My friend, Chris BB, taught the course again this time; we got our WEMTs together in the same class back in 2011. I had already planned ways to torment him in front of the class, but he one-upped me and anticipated what I had planned and announced it to the class before I had a chance to haggle him. I'm upping my game for 2023. Haha. It was nice to see my old co-worker, Megan Pierce, again. She moved to Connecticut so I see her every 2 years at our refresher now. We had fun catching up. Megan is in the litter in the photo below. 


My "wound" from a fall while role playing as victim during the course. Took this photo to see how real I could make it look like I had been hit. If I posted this and lied that I'd been hit, would you believe it? You know #believeallwomen says you should. Don't question it. A woman said it so it must be true... even if the lie ruins someones reputation. Never question it. See where I'm going with this?


Met up with Ryan for some laps at King Pine after the course. Ryan had to endure his first experience with one of my PMS lash-outs, even though I didn't realize the reason at the time. I don't know how guys deal with women's hormonal issues sometimes. Haha.

Took John and the dogs on a walk behind Walmart after John's appointment with the foot doctor. It's nice getting out with John when I can. He always seems to have fun, too.



Ryan and Chill


I started running laps around Memorial Hospital while we're posting there on the transfer truck. Transfers aren't as immediate as 911 calls so I decided to just run back and forth around the hospital for 4 miles. If we get a transfer I have time to clean up and change clothes. It's been nice having the option to run at work. I'm on the 911 truck on Wednesdays so I don't have that option then. Me post run...


Went over to Franklin for my second Covid-19 vaccine last Tuesday then ran on the very little-used snowmobile trails from the Highland Mountain Bike Park. It was hard work running in fresh powder on snowshoes so I only did 6 miles. Took over an hour. Haha. Saw a cute porcupine along the way. Feels good being able to run on snowshoes again now that I've finally gotten my glutes strengthened up and activated after 2 years of working on them. Probably won't do much racing on them, but I've really missed snowshoe running. Just need to upgrade to a better brand of snowshoe. 



After our date night at Throwback Brewery where we enjoyed the SOLO Stove. I broke down and bought one. It's SO warm. It wasn't until we were loading the trash and recycling into the car that I actually looked at the photos that were on the SOLO box. What have we done? We just lumped ourselves in with the rich hipsters! Nooooo. Haha.




Chill never comes in the bedroom. EVER! He got busted stepping over the threshold of doom the other morning while we still in bed. (Ignore the lampshade. I broke it after knocking the lamp upside down on the floor while taking out the old mattress).


John had toe surgery last Thursday to permanently remove the ingrown toenails from both big toes. Dr Goldenhar at Memorial is great. As an EMT I enjoyed watching the removal. Good thing John's toes were completely numb. He was in zero pain after. I don't know how!



Got the ambulance stuck in the snow on Tuesday morning after driving up to Eidelweiss to help the other crew get the patient out during the snow/sleet storm. What a cluster. Luckily the plow guy was able to easily pull us out. When we got back to the base, we still had some remnants of the snow bank with us. 


Ending this post with a photo of us holding hands. I'm so lucky to have someone who wants to hold my hand while we ride in the car, sit on the couch and as we fall asleep at night. I hope it's this way forever.


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