What’s Next

mountain

If you have followed my posts at all in the last few months, you know that I am rediscovering my love for the mountains.  This Dr. Seuss statement could not be more true.  The mountains represent so much more to me than just a spectacular view of the world… they define my world.  Here is why:

1) They make you put in the hard work:  Whether hiking or running, they demand you put in the effort.  You need to sweat and push to make it to the top.  You may say you hate it while working on some of the trickier climbs, but that is all forgotten once you hit the summit and reap the reward of your hard work.

2) They feel like freedom:  As a person who is constantly on the go, juggling so many aspects of life, work and business, the mountains make me stop for a moment and appreciate my freedom… both my physical and metaphorical freedom.

3) There is no end to where they can take you:  Seriously, I can start with the 48 4Ks in NH but the list is really endless.  And once I do those, I want to RUN those!

4) They make you strong:  They are the sole reason why I won’t ever follow a training plan that is exclusively road running.  Why run the road when I can run up and down a mountain?  Why run on pavement when in less than 8 hours I can achieve over 4,000 ft. in elevation changes and literally barrel down a mountain depending on my quads (I love you quads!!!) and my core?  Yes, it isn’t for eveyone, but this kid is IN LOVE with the feeling of inhaling the air and pushing my body to the brink.

5) They make me think deeply:  My mother once told me my great-grandmother referred to me as a “deep child.”  I was very young when she made that observation.  I get what that means.  I have always been in my head.  Something is always brewing in me.  I refer to it as my “monster.”  Sometimes the monster stirs and needs to be settled down.  Mountains, mountain running, climbing = prozac for the monster.  I have been lucky in my nearly 35 years to not have needed medication to quell the monster.  Horses, running and mountains have been a wonderful alternative to medication and therapy.  I don’t think I am that f*%ked, but I have made a career of dealing with other people’s problems and have always been a “fixer” including in my marriage.  At times, “fixing” gets incredibly overwhelming and out comes the monster.  So I run.  And climb.  And love the sense of peace that is restored in me every time I push myself physically… and with that comes mental peace.

All that being said, here is where my next year will hopefully take me….

mehancock

Mt. Hancock (North Peak)

For starters, I will continue to tackle the peaks.  I plan on running as many as I can in the next few years.  What I can’t run, I will hike.  This photo is from Mt. Hancock a few weeks ago.  Tony and I knocked out the nine mile, 4K “run” in 4:20.  That was about half the time he once hiked it in.

I will also train to complete my first and second 50K.  This goal had been on the plan for 2012 but injury (hamstring, rectus sheath hematoma) and illness (bronchitis and whooping cough) knocked me out of training for nearly four months.  2014 should be the year for Pineland 50k (May) and VT 50k (September).

Complete the Pemi Loop.  This is a HUGE goal.  Tony and I have started plotting how to make this happen.  In order to run it, we will need a crew to meet us “half way” to restock supplies.  The typical time for this loop is 20 hours.  To say we want to do it way under that time is ambitious… but I am game.  We may do a power hike of it in June, staying overnight at a hut, then attempt the run in August.

My racing will be kept to a bare minimum next year, replaced by hikes and runs.  I want to get deep into the roots of what makes me happy and get as strong as I can… and the goal is to stay happy and healthy.  For the immediate few months, I rest.  I start back to the gym and get some core work done.  I run light.  And I dedicate to heart rate monitor training with my fancy Garmin 310XT.  Now is the time to focus on the foundation that will run me through the rest of my life….  

Loving the mountains...

Loving the mountains…

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun!

This will be my first blog post since August 17th.  At that time, I was one week into my new job and very much excited and anxious about my new life path.  It’s been a whirlwind three months…. one that has flown by and reaffirmed my choices over and over again. I am going take you through a recap of the most important points and milestones of the last three months.  I will follow up with a second post on my goals and thoughts for 2014. Warning…. lots of pictures… but a picture speaks a 1,000 words!

NH 100K Sweeper: 

sweepa

This was an incredible experience.  I won’t bore you with the details of my newest PDR up to that point, but I will cover the follow tidbits:

These runners are SO FAST!  Like seriously fast.  I was running behind the last two runners for the first two miles, probably a bit too closely (Tony had to keep yanking me back from racing!) but all of a sudden they took off and I lost the pack.  Which is fine, as a sweeper we need to pick up any stragglers.  Let’s just say the first 16 miles, there were no stragglers.  I was so impressed with these racers.  I can only hope to be this strong someday.

– My legs SUCKED:  I had lead legs for most of the run.  I was pissed.  They just would not work.  I know why too.  First week of work, an intense day of defensive tactics training followed by firearms drills.  I was a mess.  Plus a messy, not deep sleep pattern.  And I had gotten up at 3:00 AM to drive to the race.  I chose to sleep in my own bed versus a tent, still a good decision.  Just the end of a tough week.

– How I woke my legs up: 

hnds

After stumbling through 14 miles of lead legs and zero energy, I fell.  Hard.  On relatively flat ground.  I thought I was going to save it too.  I started to go, flailed a bit but eventually lost my battle.  As I hit the ground, my palms took it first before instinct took over and I rolled onto my right shoulder.  After I stopped, I just laid there taking inventory.  Once I realized everything worked, I started to cry.  Then I got PISSED.  Poor Tony….. he was attempting to console me and help me up when he realized I was taken over by rage.  I think he got scared.  The rage had nothing to do with him.  It was all on me.  I was so angry at my body and legs and I was overtired.  What happened next was insane.  I realized I was so mad about starting to cry that I stood up and ran.  I ran my heart out for the next mile.  Down nasty hills, over rocks and the adrenaline took over.  My legs worked.  My heart was pumping strong and my tears went away.  When I finally realized the adrenaline junkie in me took over and I was balanced again, I smiled and turned around to face Tony.  The relief and fear on his face was hysterical!  It was at this point I realized how much my hands were bleeding.  They were nasty and one gouge was particularly deep.  I also had trail rash on my right shoulder, right thigh and right knee.  However, nothing hurt and I was strong!  We ended our portion of the sweeper at the 16 mile mark.  That is where the picture came from.  So glad we took it to log that memory.

Stats from the NH 100K sweeper:

Distance: 16.4 miles

Time: 3:14

Average Pace: 11:53/mile

Fastest Mile: Mile 15 @ 9:58

So after the sweeper, I continued to run and train with the Vermont 50 as the goal.  The next big milestone was Kismet Cliff.  This run is held at Echo Lake State Park in North Conway and has two options – the 5 mile “Classic” course and the 14 mile “Beast of the East.”  Since VT was the following weekend, I stuck with my plan of running the Classic despite flip flopping multiple times on race morning.  The Kismet Classic is still no joke!  I ran my heart out and won my age group!  First win ever!!!!!!  How cool….. Here are some pics from that race:

kismet clan

This was was the first Kismet for us ladies and we all killed it!  Tony ran the Beast for the second time, almost died again and shaved time off last year.

View from the top of the Classic Course

View from the top of the Classic Course

My finish line photo (courtesy of SnapAcidotic)

My finish line photo (courtesy of SnapAcidotic)

Kismet Stats:

Distance: 5.1 miles

Time: 1:13

Average Pace: 14:21

Total Elevation: 1366 feet (with an 800′ climb in less than a mile)

Finally it was time for VT!!!!

Vermont 50:  Best experience of my race career to date!

Let me tell you why….. as a kid, I never played organized sports.  I rode my horses and competed through my youth.  Competing with a horse is like working as a team with your animal but you are a solo entity as far as a “team” is concerned.  Racing and running is like a team sport with our friends.  We support each other so much, cheer for one another and push each other to be better each and every time we go out.  There is no “I” in this group.  We run because we love it.  We run because we love to be with each other.  We run for the beer too :).

We showed up for VT with two relay teams (three people per team to tackle the entire 50 miles in three legs) and Tony, who was making his 50 mile debut.  Here are some pics to some up this amazing weekend:

vtcrew

Hanging out at registration (we were a few members short)

Crewing for the day!  This was at the second transition point for relay runners.

Crewing for the day! This was at the second transition point for relay runners.

Meg and I joining Tony for the third leg of the relay at his 32 mile mark!

Meg and I joining Tony for the third leg of the relay at his 32 mile mark!

DONE!  We ran our hearts out that day!

DONE! We ran our hearts out that day!

I have never been more in love with running at I was that day.  Tony and I tackled the last 19 miles together.  My goal…. get him across the finish line.  He was hurting at the second transition point (32 miles in) and told me later he would have quit had I not been there to “pace” him in.  We passed through the last aid station with about two miles to go and all of a sudden I almost lost my composure multiple times.  I was so happy for him.  I couldn’t believe we were going to get him across the finish line.  I almost started to cry multiple times over the last 2 miles.  I will never forget breaking through the woods and looking down the mountain at the finish line.  It was LOUD!  A raging party was happening at the finish and I knew it was time to push.  I ran as hard and as fast as I could.  I was crying, I was laughing, I was hyperventilating by the time we crossed the finish line.  I was a mess of emotion I have never felt before.  Hugs, a medal, beer and food met us at the finish.  I will forever cherish this moment no matter where my running career takes me.  That day is a memory I will never be able to replace!  We all ran so well…. so strong…. and for each other.  There is no “I” in this crazy ass running team. 

VT50 Stats:

Distance: Approximately 19 miles (all GPS watches not matching mile markers on trail)

Time: 3:41

Average Pace: 12:34

Total Elevation: 2107′

We rounded out our year with the Vulcan and the Seacoast Half Marathon.  Katie and I were running these for the second time.  Just pictures and stats for these!

Ready to run some volcanos at Vulcan!

Ready to run some volcanos at Vulcan!

I ran lazy at Vulcan and still shaved 20 minutes off my time from last year.  I also frightened other races and small children as I came off South Mountain.  We run Pawtuckaway for training and I have become a very strong downhill trail runner.  Watch out people…. crazy ass mountain runner coming through!!!!

After Steve's first Seacoast Half!

After Steve’s first Seacoast Half!

I stayed with Katie and Steve for the first 10 miles or so, then started to turn on the gas and pulled away.  Little did I realize, Katie was chasing me the whole way.  She did so awesome!  I finished in 2:05, three minutes faster than last year.  This is a pavement half marathon and I will tell you…. I may never do one again in the near future.  It left me more sore than anything I have run this year and is SO repetitive!  I see value in road runner for a trail runner and I do like pavement runs as a form of training, however you will not find me doing a marathon on pavement!

Stayed tuned for “what’s next!!!”