From Now til Then

running-is-hard-to-explain

It’s fair to say my running, even for pleasure, has been taking a backseat to life for the past several weeks.  I have managed to get out there and have not had a bad run (hope that didn’t just jinx my ass) in a very long time.   I think I have finally hit that point with my body that running is comfortable.  I was having a conversation with a co-worker a few days ago about running.  He is short, stocky and strong but not built for running.  He has to run out of necessity for job testing so he is starting to work on it again.  We talked about just getting to the point where it doesn’t hurt, where your body accepts it.  Then just don’t stop! 

Anyway, despite not running much, my desire to run is on FIRE.  I have a few very cool things in the next few months I want to outline.

August 18:  IMMA SWEEPA!!!  I keep yelling this every time I see Tony.  He signed me up (without consulting me) for a sweeping position at the New Hampshire 100K.  I am so excited!  At first, he said our leg would be about 12 miles.  He lied 🙂  It’s actually going to be about 17 miles.  This will be another PDR for me.  The pace should be slow and I have no doubt I can do it.  Plus, no pressure!  I get to be a part of an incredible experience for so many runners.  I will also get to see a few of the runners Tony and I secretly have athletic crushes on!

September 22:  THE BEAST OF THE EAST!  Kismet Cliff Run in North Conway should sufficiently beat my ass.  I am opting for the 5 miler not the 14 miler Tony did last year.  We have something the following weekend that I need to conserve myself for.  Trust me, this alone will be just FINE.  This run is brutal!!!  I am already have pleasant nightmares.

September 29:  VERMONT 50 MILE RELAY!  Yay!  My first relay!  I have the third and final leg of this relay at 19.8 miles.  I also have the privilege of running Tony in.  He is doing the entire 50 miles and is planning on shadowing of relay runners the whole way.  This should be an amazingly painful experience.

October 19:  VULCAN’S FURY!  I did this race last year (my first trail race) and was scarred for life.  So scarred I am going back.  Actually, it wasn’t so much a scar as it was the beginning of this journey.  This race hurt.  I wasn’t prepared.  And I loved it.  It started this fire for trail running that I cannot seem to put out.    The distance is about 12 miles on singletrack, up over a small mountain, down some very cool carriage roads and over a trail we call Katie’s Mile since she met hell here.  Excellent!!!!

November 10:  SEACOAST HALF MARATHON!  I swore I wouldn’t run a road half marathon again.  Yeah, I lied.  I have been running in a pair of Pearl Izumi Streak II road shoes and have fallen in love with the pavement again.  I loved the course and atmosphere too, so screw it.  I am in.  Just have to sign up!

So, what is keeping my passion alive?  I went to the Bear Brook Marathon on Saturday.  I was registered to run this race but sickness/injury and work prevented me from being ready.  Lise and I got there in time to watch some of the early runners come in.  I was floored by them.  Some of them were smiling and ecstatic as they hit the finish time.  I watched one of the females come across and break into tears.  I KNOW THAT FEELING!  I remember finishing at Pineland and holding back the sobs.  There is something so emotional about the effort that goes into the events.  All the training, the pain, the heartache then the finish.  I love it.  I can’t wait to keep it up!  Tony did fantastic, finishing in 5 hours.  He even went out and ran with me yesterday.  His training is bordering on impressive at this point.  I can’t wait to get into this crazy world!

Bearing all this in mind, I am still not really following a training plan.  Dangerous?  Maybe.  That isn’t saying I am not running.  I am running, I am varying my terrain and I am cross training when I can.  I have a plan to increase mileage each week but I am not following a training chart right now.  My eating is clean.  My doctor got my blood work last week and was blown away by how great it looked.  I am healthy and capable of being strong again.  So, more running, more mountains, more strength training.  I got this!

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Photo credit: SNAPacidotic

Patiently waiting….

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This really is so fitting for my life right now…. not only running life but professional life.  I can’t even remember where I stumbled upon it, but as soon as I did, I saved it.

For me this represents taking control. 

My professional options have been limited and I am finally in the driver’s seat regarding where I go from here.  I got word yesterday that my background check was complete and I have a tentative start date of August 12th.  I am ecstatic, nervous, humbled and READY!   I can’t wait to learn my new job and finally get out of this damn belt that I am currently blaming for my nagging hip problem.  Twenty pounds of gear and crap hours is finally coming to an end.  There will still be gear and there will still be long work weeks, but all in all, a very different lifestyle within my career field.

Not everyone in my life is happy with my decision.  One person in particular is convinced I am committing professional suicide.  I am sure that each and every time someone changes paths there is always this one person who seems to know more, knows better and simply trashes the idea just because they can.  It’s sad.  Inside I am screaming “This is my life!  Back off!  Let me decide if I have messed up!”   For this one person who is trashing my career choice, I cannot even count the number of people I have spoken with or seen who have had overwhelming support and feedback regarding this very personal decision.   For that I am grateful.

And the number one supporter I have these days?  My incredible husband.  He was a little hesitant at first, mostly for financial reasons, but he is excited for the change.   We may finally have a normal relationship where his wife isn’t heading out the door at 9;00PM for three months at a time every four months (did ya catch that?).  We talked about finally getting to the business of house projects since our hours will be the same for the first time in the seven years we have been together.  That will be cool.

I will also have to find ways to kick him out so I can watch my cheesy girly shows (Mistresses is my current addiction… shhh!)  

My job will hopefully become official next week and then it all becomes real.  This means time to clean out my desk, drawers and lockers that are full of thirteen years of schooling, experiences and memories.  A new chapter begins in the direction I chose!

Back to the woods: Mt. Whiteface & Mt. Passaconoway

Warning!  Lot of pictures!

After a ten year hiatus of hiking, I found myself back in the mountains last Thursday.  I used to date a guy who hiked a lot and had the chance to do both Mt. Eisenhower and Mt. Moriah when we were together.  I have held those incredible memories of making it to the summit and taking it all in for all these years.  Life goes on, relationships end and it was a decade later before I made it back to the top.  Two years ago I told Tony and Lise I wanted to start running to get in shape to hike.  My thought was about ten miles a week and some weight training.  Little did I realize my goals would change so drastically.  I finally got back to my original goal when I blew off my race plans.  I AM SO THANKFUL I DID!!!  Last Thursday was incredible and once again I am HOOKED!

The day dawned cloudy and muggy.  Tony, Katie, Steve and I headed to Albany NH.  I had picked our route a few weeks before after searching various blogs.  I decided we were all ready to knock out two in one day.  Mt. Whiteface (4,020 ft) and Mt. Passaconoway (4,043 ft) are in Albany NH.  We got to the parking area around 8:30 AM, amped and ready to go.  I should mention we had to drop nutbag (aka Tony) off at the chiro before we actually started our trip.  Here is how our pick up went at his house:

Tony – “Shhhhhh guys!  I have to call the chiropractor and cancel my appointment.”

Me –  “When the hell is your appointment?”

Tony – (sheepishly) “7”

Mind you…. it’s about 6:50AM. 

Me – “Seriously????”

Katie – “We can drop you off and get coffee!”  She is nicer than me.

Tony – “Really?  Ok!”

Me – “Seriously?????”

I’m ad-libbing that.  But, you get the idea.  We left Tony at the chiro and got coffee.  Then I got a text from him saying he was standing on the side of the street like a hooker.  He was.  We picked him up and were finally on our way.

We got our packs on, bug sprayed everything and headed off!  Here is the view from the parking lot looking at Mt. Passaconoway.  Mt. Whiteface is barely visible on the left:

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Our ascent to Mt. Whiteface started gently.  When we did begin to climb, it was multiple series of rock steps.

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The climb was beautiful.  And wet.  Tony and I wore our Speedcross instead of boots.  Normally these shoes are incredible…. on dry rocks and mud.  Not wet rocks.  Took a bit for me to get the hang of sticking but once I did, I found my groove.  The final climb to the false summit of Whiteface gave us some excellent views:

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On the left is Mt. Passaconoway.  Here is a shot of Katie and Steve:

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They make for incredibly fun hiking (and running) mates.  They are as crazy as me and Tony.  Anyway…. more on Whiteface.  If you do this mountain, be prepared to literally scale rocks for the last tenth of a mile.  We were hand over hand.  It was AWESOME!!!!!  Not much of a view at the top, but a blast anyway.

We made a quick stop at the top (Katie had to fix her poor blisters):

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I kept taking pictures.  Here is me being artsy:

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Soon we were on the move again and heading towards Mt. Passaconoway.  We took the ridge trail towards the mountain.  Here is where I really got my legs and started to cruise.  At times I was way ahead of the group, enjoying the peace and quiet.  Reveling in how amazing it felt to be in the woods.  If I wasn’t such a wuss, I would actually hike them alone.  Not because I don’t love the company, but because there is something primal and thrilling about tackling these giants by yourself.  Someday I will be confident enough to go it alone.

The climb to Passaconoway was much more wooded with fewer rocks over the length of the hike.  The last tenth mile took up straight up again with more hand over hand climbing.  Rewarding and thrilling again!  At the false summit, Tony finally produced the treat he had packed:

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Here he is looking homeless in his “buff.”  Yup, his buff.  That’s the thing on his head that he didn’t shut up about for 7 hours.

And here is the treat:

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Good thing we split this thing four ways!  It was delightful with our snacks and the view.  And ice cold thanks to the ice pack Tony had it wrapped in.

After snack time, we descended Passaconoway quickly.  The trail was super easy to navigate and we killed this entire hike in 7.5 hours.  The recommended and recorded times are around 8.5 hours.  Cannot wait to hike more and to run some of them!!!

This was me the ENTIRE time:

mesmile

I was finally back where my heart belongs.  I have been under a tremendous amount of stress for awhile and have finally put on the brakes and realized I needed to do this.  I NEED to get back to my roots.  I have spent much of my life enjoying the outdoors but life has gotten in the way over the years and I have forgotten to take care of my soul.  No more.  It’s time to feed my soul again and enjoy the life I have.

I will leave you with this gem.  A truly breathtaking day:

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Hike Stats

Trails:

 Blueberry Ledge Trail to summit of Whiteface

Dicey Mill Trail along ridge from Whiteface to Passaconoway (follow the trail to the sign pointing to the Summit at intersection of Walden).

Walden Trail back to down to Ferncroft Trail.

Total Mileage:  Approximately 11.9

Conditions:  Cloudy, humid with highs in the mid 80s.

How I’m NOT training

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As I mentioned in a previous post, I halted all training for both my marathon and 50K this year.  Work was too much, the hours were troublesome and the illnesses I was battling were really starting to get in the way!

Fast forward to now.  I am healthy (fingers crossed it stays that way). my world is looking up work-wise, and I have relaxed into my non-training attitude.  What does not training look like?

1) Strength training 1x a week:  Either Body Pump (lifting class) or crossfit.  I love working my muscle groups to exhaustion and need someone to tell me what to do.  Order me around!

2) Road running: I finally found the best pair of road shoes I have ever set my feet inside!  I picked up a pair of Pearl Izumi Streak II and they are INSANELY amazing.  Light, comfortable, fit like a glove.  9mm drop which is perfect for my legs and not only encourage my mid/forefoot strike but also have me running faster than ever on the road.  Hold on…. fast for me!  10 minute miles fast.

3) Mountain training:  Just started this past week.  Tackled two 4,000 footers for a total of 11 miles of body assault.  AWESOME!  This trek will be getting it’s own post soon!

4) Running when I want:  No spreadsheet, no race schedule, no pressure.  Bearing in mind I am still doing the 19 mile leg of the Vermont 50 at the end of Septemeber, I am not paying attention to structured training.  I run when I want.  When I can.  I plan on getting as many mountains in as I can over the next two months.  When I run, I am in love with it.  I love how my legs work, how my breathing is becoming effortless, how I can just pick a number “hey I’m going out for 7 today” and just go.  And my body is no worse for the wear.

5) Still eating clean… and losing weight.  My abs are starting to chisel.  I am LOVING this smoothie I concocted this week:

Minty Madness:

One scoop Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, one scoop Chocolate and Peanut Butter Protein Powder, one frozen banana, handful crushed ice, chocolate almond milk for liquid.  Blend until smooth and be prepared to crumple from happiness!

This has been my post workout treat.  Occassionally I sub Teddie peanut butter for the ice cream.

6) Workout only when rested.  No more runs on serious lack of sleep.  Not worth it.  No reason to do it at this point.  On the flip side, I worked all night Saturday, slept from 7:30AM Sunday until 2:30PM.  I was out the door for a run at 4:00PM because I couldn’t wait.  Had my first ever half mile at a 7:30 pace.  Felt incredible despite the high 80s and humidity.

At the end of the day, I know I made an excellent decision in postponing two huge goals.  The 50K goal may very well be Pineland next May!  For now, I would love to see how strong these legs can get!  I finally have a strong fitness base and I am so freaking proud that just two years ago this month, I couldn’t run.  Literally, I remember being on a treadmill at Planet Fitness, hobbling along in my awful stability shoes and attempting to simply run for a minute at a time.  I also refused to run outside in the elements.  How things have changed!   Today, I weigh 128 pounds (down 20 pounds from 2011), am stronger than I was when I graduated the police academy in 2000, and belted out 4 miles in the heat for the pure joy of it.  I have finally hit my stride.

Changes….

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Not so much running going on these days, but a whole lot of changes instead.  The photo above was from my 7 miler on Monday.  It was perfect and much needed!

As for changes….

It is no secret I have worked a pretty tough rotation of shifts for a long time… 13 years to be exact.  I have not lost the love for my job, but there are days the schedule is very “trying” to say the least.  For instance, the four hours of sleep I have gotten in the last 48 hrs. is not so good for the body.  This is probably the worst stretch I have had sleep-wise in a while… but worth every bit of it.  

Change is hard.  Changing professionally is something I have struggled with.  I am not talking about changing on the job.  That is easy.  Get more training, get involved with more cases, take on projects and assignments.  That is a piece of cake.  Changing from one place to another is where I have been hung up.  About three years ago, I knew I needed to try something new.  I was not yet prepared to go to another agency, so I explored other related fields with better schedules and interesting work.  I developed an appreciation for those trying to get jobs (as I kept striking out) and kept trucking along at my agency.  I have been and always will be grateful to be gainfully employed in a steady profession.  I have never taken that for granted.  My husband and I have discussed at length how fortunate it has been that I fell into this career.

And fall I did.  In 1997 I was a pre-vet student at UNH.  I had wanted to work with animals my entire life.  I used to shadow our vet, learning everything I could about horse care.  I had a lifelong dreaming of being an equine veterinarian.  Problem was, math and science was just not my strongest area.  I continued on with my schooling and took a job in 1998 with the Hampton Police Department.  This was a civilian position working with the Mounted Patrol Unit.  This was a summer dream come true!  I got to train the horses, train the officers and spent hours in the saddle on the newest mount, breaking him in to beach life.  I loved every minute of it. 

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Come spring of 1999, it was painfully obvious I was not going to have the grades to even attempt vet school and on a whim changed my major to Sociology.  Much later, I graduated with a B.S. in Criminology and a Masters in Justice Administration.  Before all that happened, I decided to TRY  law enforcement.  Like it was a sandwich.  No other thought than “Huh, this is interesting.”   “I really like my ride time with Hampton.”  “This is kind of exciting.”

I was fortunate to be physically strong enough to pass the physical testing (In addition to the Hampton job, I was also working on a farm and mucking up to 26 stalls a day).  I landed my full time job in 2000, finished all my education on the side and essentially “grew up” on the job.

Therein lies the scariness of moving on.  These people are my family.  Most of my agency and I started as “kids” (a term used by veteran officers for us young uns) and have morphed into adults with very strong bonds to one another.  The thought of leaving here terrified me for a long time.  Mostly because I don’t want to lose these people.  It’s actually a ridiculous notion.  I see most of my co-workers socially to run or spend time together.  They won’t be lost to me.

But I feel like part of my soul will be ripped away from me when I leave.

This past month, I decided to take control of my future and apply for a new position.  I am too afraid to talk about it yet, as nothing is final… but it can’t look any better than it does today.  I promise more information soon!  I got word on Tuesday afternoon that I had been selected by a new agency and have not stopped smiling since.  I am sad inside and I am watching the sadness in my co-workers, but I am also ecstatic.  I don’t think I could have found anything better and cannot wait to move on.

Change is scary.  I am not scared about learning my new job (in fact I am so EXCITED!) but I am scared about losing my deeply rooted law enforcement family bonds.  But at the end of the day, they are my family and that won’t ever change.  When you go through some of the things we have experienced together, you are bonded for life.  It took me quite a few years to realize that and get bold enough to make this much anticipated move.  It is so easy to get complacent and stick with the “same old” routine.  That just wasn’t working for me anymore.

I empower you to make a change.  Live a little scared for a few minutes…. or days…. or weeks.  I did it.  And shockingly it feels AMAZING to push out of my comfort zone.   If I can do it, so can you.