A Fortnight of Forgotten Runs

Fourteen Runs. Two entire weeks of training- poof!– done in a few shakes of Drunk Otis’ tail. Training for Boston with Hansons Marathon Method is flying by. Or maybe I just black out every week and forget the agony. Yeah. That’s it. Repression at its finest. That also means I’m behind 2 weeks of blogging, Poodles. I’m quitting the small talk. WHAT?!! And hopping straight to it. We’ve got miles to cover!

Monday: Easy run.7 miles total. 9:12 pace in sunny Florida! When we last we spoke, I was recovering from a bout of amoebic dysentery. Or, a stomach bug. Same diff. This was my first real run post gut issue. I felt great. Couldn’t possibly have been the view? Nah.

All runs are better along the sweet blue sea.❤️

Tuesday: Rest Day. Flight from 84 degree weather to 24 degree weather. I had to flip flop my scheduled rest day. Which meant the rest of the week would be chock full o’ pain.

Wednesday: Intervals. 400-800-1200-1600-1200-800-400, 400m recovery, 7:34. Warm up/recovery. 9 miles total. This is a tough one. I’d like to call it the Ladder of Pain. And Suffering. And All Things Unpleasant. I did it though. So at least there’s a little bit of sunshine in an otherwise cloudy, painful, cold, Not Florida day.

Thursday: Easy Run. 7 miles. 9:21. Here’s where things get hairy. Usually, there is a rest day between Intervals and The Dreaded Tempo Run. Because I had to shift my Rest Day to Tuesday, I was going into a new cycle sans rest. Remember, Easy Runs don’t seem so easy on tuckered legs. They stink.

Friday: Tempo Run. 7 miles at 8:34, 9.5 miles total with warm up and cool down. *cue choir of angels* YES!  Shock of all shocks, I felt great. And here I thought It was going to be hairy. Success! I rewarded myself with 2 beers. Cheers!

Take THAT Tempo Run!

Saturday: Easy Run. 8 miles total at 9:18. Not gonna lie. I was pooped. And it was cold. Really cold.

Sunday: Long Run. 14 miles total at 9:29. Nice and steady. Cold and windy. Money in the bank. Cha-Ching.

Monday: Easy Run. 6 miles total at 9:18. Rest Day? Where are you? Little did I know that I would have to flip-flop ANOTHER WEEK OF TRAINING because of work, weather and a gym that closed early. A “dusting” turned into 4 inches of snow and ice. Thanks, Mother Nature. You rat.

Tuesday: Welp. I got my Rest Day a day early. Which was fine. Except now I’d have to run another hard week. But then again, what else is new? It’s Hansons. Welcome to the Sufferfest.

Wednesday: Intervals. 3 x 1600, 600m recovery at 7:37. 6.5 miles total with warm up/recovery. These sucked the life out of me. Mostly because I drank the equivalent of 2 teaspoons of water all day. Not. Good. Tip: Just because it’s cold and icy out, you still need to hydrate. Preferably with Skratch Labs. I also found out I am a 2017 Taste Agent! See…Pop-Up Interval Day wasn’t all that bad after all. Good things happen to those who are dehydrated and exhausted. They drink Skratch Labs. 

Thursday: Tempo Run. 7 miles at 8:35. 9 miles total with warm up/cool down. Awful. And after my previous killer Tempo Run, so stinking disappointing. That’s what happens when you do two “SOS” runs back to back. (Something of Substance in Hanson’s speak.)  Which by the way, you shouldn’t do. There’s usually a rest day between them. This was a 1-2 punch. Tip: Don’t do this. You will be disappointed and beat yourself up. Especially if you do it on the soul-sucking treadmill.

Friday: Easy Run. 6 miles at 9:15 with Drunk Otis! He loves easy run days. He also loves Vermont which is where I headed after this run.

Hey, Lady. Get out of the car. We’re running.

Saturday: Easy Run. 10 miles at 9:18 in lovely, bitter cold Vermont! Beautiful run. Beautiful part of the country.

I ❤️my new Atlas snow shoes.

This run was followed by a 5 mile snow shoe hike with our Partners in Adventuring and Beer Drinking, Anthony and Carly. So much fun with great friends. Happiness abounds! And exhaustion.  But, whatevs.

Vermont trail porn.

Sunday: 3 mile hike in Vermont. 45 minute spin. Why no run? Because my ankle was not happy post snow shoe adventure. Girlfriend was super sore. In the spirit of listening to thy body and after consulting with my Partner in Adventuring and Beer who is a health care professional, we decided that ice and Advil would be better for the long term. Better to miss a run now, then be injured later. And in deference to my pin-containing ankle with limited mobility and lotsa issues, that’s what I did. But I didn’t like it. Not one bit.  I also obsessed about missing a scheduled run, resulting in my friend, Carly giving me a “Bitch, you cray. Chill.” talking to. Thanks, Girl. Thanks. I needed that. 

Silliness.

Total number of miles run in 2 weeks: 92. Damn. That’s a lot.
Number of miles hiked +/- snow shoes: 8 miles. 5 of which were up-up-uphill in said shoes.
Minutes I spun on my trainer because I bought I hadn’t run enough: 45.  

Do you obsess about missed runs due to injury as much as I do? Have you ever run or hiked in snow shoes? 


Vermont City Marathon 2016: Feelin’ the Burn.

meme

I would like to preface this piece by stating straight on up front that the 2016 Vermont City Marathon and Relay was the hottest race I have ever run. EVER.

How hot?

It was soooooooo hot….

That they cancelled it. 

Yup. Cancelled it. Black flagged. As it was in progress. Done. Finished. Over. Stop, drop and melt.  Or, find a lovely Vermonter to hose you down and pad you with Popsicles whilst you wait for a school bus to drive your desiccated ass back to the finish. The news was trending on Twitter on Sunday. Vermont was trending on Twitter. How the hell often does that happen? That’s how hot it was. It was no joke.

It was the first time in Vermont City Marathon history that the race was halted. I ran the marathon as part of the 2-Person Relay and for those quoted with saying “it wasn’t THAT hot,” to you I say LIAR, LIAR, RUNNING SHORTS ON FIRE!!!  Because they goddamn were. You know it. I know it. We all know it. It was hotter than Hell. So unless you swiftly tucked your horns under your visor or jammed your forked tail into your running shorts, YOU, Overheated Devil Runner, are full of hot baked beans.

Brutal. All I kept thinking about as I watched the course warning move from moderate to HIGH, was that I felt like I was running a half marathon in a Bikram yoga class. Only add direct sun. There was no shade. No breeze. Nothing but heat. And it was radiating up from the lava field  we were running upon. There is a section called the Beltline which was easily the hottest spot in the North East that day. I can’t even explain how I felt. Cooked? Braised? Slow roasted?  All of the above!?!?  That was by mile 4. Within an hour, the warning had moved up to HIGH HEALTH RISK. I saw a runner down around mile 4. And from there until mile 13.1, I saw at least 5 more. It was horrible. The sounds of ambulances were becoming frighteningly common.  No bueno.

burlington free press image

Source: Burlington Free Press.

It was roughly 90 degrees by noon, which is not the only reason why the race was halted. There is something called the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature which I didn’t even know was a thing until I read about it on the Vermont City Marathon website. They did an outstanding job of keeping runners abreast of the heat situation via messaging and posting. Having run the full marathon a few years ago, albeit with a black eye, I can’t tell you enough how much I love this race. I’d run it every year. They do a great job. Besides, I love Burlington. And it’s vibe…and craft beer….and tacos…..and did I say beer?

A photo posted by Colby (@runcolbyrun) on May 28, 2016 at 3:17pm PDT

 

So. Back to the WBGT. The Wet Bulb Globe Temperature is a composite temperature determined by measuring ambient air temp, humidity, wind and solar radiation on humans.  It’s used by athletes and even the military, to determine a person’s exposure level to high temperature. On Sunday, the WBGT exceeded 82 at 3 consecutive readings along the course. Because of this, officials were forced to halt the marathon due to the extreme heat. Tough choice? You bet. But I believe it was a smart, responsible one made by the Race Director and folks at Run Vermont. Would I have thrown myself into Lake Champlain if I was this close to finishing and it stopped? You bet.

I would have had such conflicted emotions. That’s a lot of training and sacrifice lost. Such time and effort. But let’s be honest, even in the most perfect training conditions, anything can happen on race day. With regard to the weather, it’s a total crap shoot.  I’m not sure who was going to bust out a personal best in extreme temperatures in light of the complete lack of extreme temperatures in the week’s leading up to the race. At least in this part of the country. Other than an 80 degree shake out run the day before, I hadn’t run seriously in the heat since last summer. Expectations definitely needed to be tempered. Or, completely thrown out the window. Among the runners I chatted with, they certainly had altered their goals. I know I had. It was so unfortunate for them. I would have been devastated if I were running the full. No doubt. But at the end of the day, it was the right thing to do. They called off the race at roughly the 4 hour mark. My heart breaks for all those who didn’t finish. Darlin’ Rae especially. I feel you, Girl. 😦

And me? My race was a hot mess. Literally and figuratively. I am happy to say I finished with my all-time slowest half marathon time, chafing in places that will go unnamed and 2 serious heart palpitations that made me stop in my tracks and walk. What. The. F*ck. And I was salted, trained, hydrated and Skratch Lab’d up.  See why I think it was smart to stop it?  That’s scary stuff. Fortunately, I was absolutely fine. I was just overheating and overexerting myself like 1000s of runner’s that day. I am also happy to report that my running partner and I finished in under 4 hours. Right before the Black Flag unfurled. We were lucky. I’m proud of our run. I’m even more proud of the gracious Vermonters who stood out in that heat and cheered, hosed, iced, Popsicled and orange sliced their way into this hot runner’s heart. Thank you! It was a tough choice, but a safe one. One hot run does not a bad race make.  Run Vermont. I know I’ll be back. 🙂

A photo posted by Colby (@runcolbyrun) on May 29, 2016 at 1:24pm PDT

 

Have you ever run a race that was stopped due to weather? How would you have reacted? Hot weather runner or cold weather runner? GO!

Whirlwind Wednesday. And a Series of Fortunate Events.

First of all. I thought today was Monday. Which is what happens when you spend a GLORIOUS 7 days away from work, drinking Heady Toppers, eating delicious FRESH food and watching your Other Half run his first marathon AND KICK IT IN THE CHOMPERS!

Oh, Hi. Boston Called. YOU JUST QUALIFIED!!

YAAAAASSSS!

YAAAAASSSS!

To say I am proud of him is a goddamn understatement. There are no words. Just love, love, love. I love him to pieces.  In fact, if I didn’t love him, I might hate him. He’s one of those Naturals. You know. The Athlete. The Dude who can do anything and loves the work that goes along with it? Yeah. That Guy. He’s My Lobster.  I am so proud of him. My heart is overflowing. Good stuff I tell ya. Actually, there have been a few Pretty Damn Good things that have happened in the past 10 Days. Here’s a Colby Good Stuff Sampler!

Running along Lake Champlain

    1. I went to a ‘Ladies Only Wine and WOD’ sponsored by Lululemon! Can you even stand it? One of my dear friends is into CrossFit and her box (I know. That sounds filthy.) was sponsoring a ladies only CrossFit night with wine, paleo grub and Lululemon. And she brought me! I’ve dabbled in CrossFit several times and if it wasn’t so damn expensive where I live, I’d be sipping the organic cool-aid. But alas. I also love shoes. And wine. And delicious IPAs as you’ll read about shortly. So there’s that. CrossFit Bethany hosted it and it did not disappoint. Such a great community of people. Very welcoming. Very friendly. There are some jacked broads there (Exhibit A. Below). Bethany Cross Fit!It was awesome. Vikki and I partnered up and had a blast.  Running, box jumps, rope work, abs, all sorts of stuff. Oh? And Wine. And Shopping. (Hello Vinyasa Scarf!) And my girl Vikki. I see why she loves it so much there. All of the Ladies I met were fantastic and so was the wine. Great. Time. Thanks Vik!

      Victorious!

    2. I was finally matched with a buddy! Tina posted about I Run 4 a little while back (here) and if you aren’t familiar with them, I strongly encourage you to check them out. Salt @ Run Salt Run and I were both matched the same week! I know she’s equally as excited. It’s such an amazing group. Here is the link to their website: Who I Run 4 . They pair a special needs “Buddy” with a “Runner.”
      My First Official 5 mile run. #IRun4Wyatt

      My First Official 5 mile run. #IRun4Wyatt

      Your job as the runner is to dedicate your runs to your Buddy and interact with them via IR4’s closed Facebook Group. It’s an incredible community. I can tell you that I have been paired with an amazing little boy named Wyatt. I am already forging a wonderful relationship with his family. And I’ve gotta say, there hasn’t been a single mile I’ve run since “meeting” him where I haven’t thought about his smiling face. My miles have meaning. It is so fulfilling. Sign up. It’s worth the wait.

      Mile 3. Grafton, Vermont is gorgeous.

      Mile 3. Grafton, Vermont is gorgeous.


    3. Leon James and Evil Beagle might be getting a BROTHER!  So this happened as I was running the trails in my neighborhood. Yup. He happened. Chocolate Boy We ran right into one another. I encountered a big, handsome, chocolate lab swimming with a stick in his mouth on the trails. Of course I stopped and chatted with his Human and got the scoop. Long serendipitous story short: I need a running buddy, he needs a home.  It was love at first sight. Note: It’s not that Leon James and Evil Beagle, Pearl Anne, don’t want to run with me, they totally would. Only if I walked. And they ate gobs of treats. L. James is recovering from 2 -yes TWO- knee reconstruction $urgerie$ and Pearl Anne is….well?  Let’s just say this: Girlfriend don’t like to work out. They’re also both 11 years old and the thought of losing one? STOP. I know we’re crazy. But deal with it. I’d rather be an Old Crazy Dog Lady than an Old Crazy Cat Lady any day of the week. Cross your paws that it goes through! Squeeeeeee!
    4. We scored a case of Heady Topper. boooyaYup. In another, The Stars Are In Alignment Moment, we happened upon a delivery of Heady Topper as we were leaving Burlington, Vermont. After asking what all the hub-bub was about (then turning to each other and fist-pumping when we heard why) we immediately hopped in line and waited for our Liquid Gold. You can’t get the stuff outside of Vermont. And then not all of Vermont. It wins all sorts of ‘Best Beer’ Awards. The result: TWO FREAKING CASES OF HEADY TOPPER! For those of you who aren’t beer fans, this is the equivalent of finding a unicorn blowing bubbles while riding a T-Rex. IT NEVER HAPPENS. Fear not, we filled a cooler, loaded it with ice, and gingerly transported our cases of beauties across state lines. TO DRINK. ALL. SUMMER. We also drank them in Burlington… 

      Heady Topper and Focal Banger. CHEERS!

      And even ate them in DELICOUS PRETZEL FORM at the Burlington Farmer’s Market… 

      Heady Topper Jalapeno Pretzel Bliss.

      In short, ALL THE HEADY TOPPER. Happiness. 

    5. We ate great food in Burlington, Vermont

      Asparagus Porn.

      It wasn’t all kick ass beers and tacos. Although I would perfectly content if that were the case. A few notable eating establishments in Burlington:  Hankering for tacos? Run to El Cortijo. Kitchsy. Cool. Not too hipster. And MY FAVORITE joint for good beer and tacos. I love that little spot. It’s hard not to binge on tacos and ‘chos there. Trust me.  

      Revolution Kitchen.

      Next fave: Revolution Kitchen which, in addition to having another of our favorite beers on tap, Lawson’s Sip of Sunshine, has DELICIOUS vegetarian grub. Like really good and not completely typical. The staff couldn’t have been more charming.  And guacamole filled wonton “nachos.”  For real. *drools* We dig it.   

      Jazzy!

      Last? Hen of the Wood. INNOVATIVE and delicious. Even the ice cubes were cool. Everything here is done with intention. It’s fantastic- organic, sustainable and locally sourced. We had these insane Apple cider fritters with some sort of delectable goodness on them and we swooned. Shit was GOOD. And? I took zero food pictures. Which in hindsight, was a Rookie Blogger move. What the hell do I know?  My other half would have thrown a fork at me if he heard: “But Babe, It’s for the BLLLLLLLOG!” one more time. He loves me. 

So that’s what’s been going down. Take time to recharge. The past week and a half has been such a reboot for me. I’d highly recommend it if possible. Drinking, eating and running for and with people I love. Now that’s Good Stuff. 🙂

How was your long weekend? Have you ever been a spectator at a marathon? Or does it make you antsy? Name you favorite beer: GO! 

Who doesn’t love a Street Performer?

A Dose of Reality with a Side of Lies.

I realized two things today.

1. The VT50 is exactly one month away.

chris farley scared

And…

2. Hello Kitty is a goddamn fraud. Really?!?! She’s a little girl?!?! A little HUMAN girl. How is that possible? Who the hell are her parents? Jocelyn Wildenstein and Roy Horn?!?! Well Girlfriend better get a good pair of tweezers to pluck those whiskers of hers. We’ve essentially been fed a bowl of fortified Sanrio lies for over 20 years. I am outraged. Simply outraged.

hello kitty

Now back to that 50K I’m running in 30 days…

I’m not quite sure why I feel as if it’s sneaking up on me seeing as how I’ve been obsessing about it since I Pulled the Trigger in a moment of Post-Marathon Euphoria. Christ. My 3 lost toenails haven’t even grown back yet. 

I can do anything! Weeeee!

Uh.
Yeah.

Right now I’m not even sure I can walk in the kitchen to pour myself another glass of White Bordeaux, let alone run 30 or so miles on trails, up a mountain and back down again.  My First Ultra Marathon. And it’s in The Green Mountain State. I’m exhausted. And nervous.

Honestly? I’m feeling pretty decent about my training. How I’ll feel on race day is another issue entirely. I’m tired and my legs feel like ambrosia, so I must be doing something right. I did get a new pair of kicks which I am really loving. Purple Pearl Izumi’s. So damn snazzy! I have run a bunch of trail runs in them so far. However, I am holding off giving then “Colby’s Seal of Approval” until after this weekend. My 7 toe-nailed paws are crossed for a good long run. I think I’ll feel better after that. In fact, I am sure I will.

Come on Confidence!

I mean after Champagne and Hill Repeats this week and then the Bomb that was Hello Liar Hello Kitty, there is no place to go but up!

Do you have a favorite trail running sneaker? Will you ever look at Hello Kitty the same way again? White, Red or Rosé? Go!

20140828-234247-85367617.jpg

2014 KeyBank Vermont City Marathon Race Recap!

Who just ran Marathon Number SEVEN with a black eye and a big ass smile plastered across her face?

{Thumbs pointing at chest.}

THIS GIRL!

Between training in a Polar Vortex and That Long Run Where I Wrecked My Face And Wound Up in the ER, I was ready to run the 2014 KeyBank Vermont City Marathon. And by ready, I mean. Hurry up. Seriously. Let’s do this. NOW. Before something else horrible happens. Like my feet fall off. {Side note: My feet did not fall off. However, I am DANGEROUSLY close to losing two Pinky Baby Toes. I just lit a candle for them. And said a quiet prayer.} I was ready to wrap training and this race up WEEKS ago. That fall really took the wind out of my running sails. I know I mentioned it in gest here, but it did. More so than I actually let on. I came very, VERY close to bagging the whole damn thing. Then I remembered That Colby Doesn’t Quit. Ever. Not with a black eye. Not with a bruised spirit. Not even while listening to the world’s smallest violin playing Colby’s Pity Party Concerto. On repeat. Uh. No.

no

So off to Burlington we went!  We stayed at the Sheraton, the host hotel, which was just perfect. Packet Pick-Up was a zero stress breeze. Which is just how I like it. No fuss. No muss. Bib in hand, we made our way through the Expo (fun!), checked in, grabbed a water and headed off in search of a Heady Topper and a bite to eat.  Downtown Burlington is fantastic. It’s a funky, heavy on locally sourced, hippy, cool area. Lots of great restaurants, plenty of outdoor seating, and views of Lake Champlain. My Other Half and I milled around, checked out Battery Park which is where the race starts, and padded off in search of grub. Which we found o’ plenty.

Then I saw this banner against a nice blue sky.

The Lovely Downtown Burlington, Vermont.

The Lovely Downtown. Burlington, Vermont.

And got immediately excited.

The logistics of the race were an absolute BREEZE.  Because we stayed at the Host Hotel, everything was a piece of cake. (Colby Tip: If you can, and are a first timer, do so. Usually shuttles run from the Host Hotel to the start. The last thing you need is to be all frazzled race morning, screwing around with how to get to the start. There’s usually volunteers puttering around too, should you have any questions.) The Marathon also hosts a Relay which is a HUGE draw. Teams run together- from 2 people to 5- and complete the marathon as a group. In all, I believe there were roughly 3000 people running the full marathon and A Whole HELL of a LOT More Running the Relay. But don’t quote me on it. All I know is that at Mile 21 some fresh faced nymph dashed by me chit chatting along, swinging her ponytail side to side. After swearing under my hot, shallow breathe, I thought Bitch! Relay! {Ding, ding, ding!}

The Start was fantastic. I felt AMAZING!

running muppet

The Actual Starting Area was very user friendly. Secure bicycle parking. Plenty of volunteers. Bag check. Grub. Lots of Porta-Potties. Some of my dear old high school friends!  Easy access to the “corrals.”  Minimal confusion. Once we started, it thinned out nicely with little shuffling.  I started out strong! And was immediately lulled into a false sense of security because of several downhills in the beginning. {Colby Tip: Don’t start out strong. Regret is a terrible thing to run with.} The course itself was good. Not too flat, not too hilly. Just about right. There were quite a few turns which kept things spicy. There was also a long out-and-back stretch called the Beltway that was about 5 miles of hot, exposed, Not Much To See with a side of False Flat thrown in for good measure. Sneaky. That section was slightly boring, but I was hauling ass at this point. So who cared? I was Little Miss Top of the World! I felt good. Really good. It was at that point that I said: Screw it. I’m giving it all I’ve got. If I blow up, I blow up. But I haven’t felt this good running in a long goddamn time.

Then it got hotter.

And the warning went quickly from “Ideal” to “Moderate.” It may have ended worse than Moderate. What’s worse than Modeate? Hot as Balls? I have no clue. The hotter it got. The saltier I got. The harder I pushed.

Now I am sure there are many of you reading this that wouldn’t bat an eye at running in the heat. But I batted them. HARD. It was my first 70 plus degree marathon. Hell. It was my first hot run of 2014! Full sun. Full exposure, minus a short few sections. My best marathon EVER is a 3:54 {Fist Pump!} I ran at the Chicago Marathon. It started out at 32 degrees and ended around 50 degrees with clouds and a wind chill. I am not a Hot Weather Zippy Runner. We were already pushing 75, full sun and a touch of humidity at the half. I began to kiss a zippy race goodbye. But honestly. I didn’t care. I was there. Running with a black eye and slathered in SPF55, protecting the scars on my face. And I felt great.

Who knew the KBVCM had it’s very own Heartbreak Hill?  I didn’t. But they sure do. It’s at Mile 15. And it’s kind of long. And a little nasty. The good thing? TONS OF SPECTATORS! And Taiko Drummers!  Such fun!

Photo Credit: Glenn Russell/Free Press

Photo Credit: Glenn Russell/Free Press

Once you crest The Hill and after your legs regain their composure, you wind through all of these random cute neighborhoods. Runners are coming and going. In and out. Lots of turns. The people lining the streets couldn’t be nicer. BEER! JELLO SHOTS! MARDI GRAS BEADS! They had it all. They all made you feel at home. And not like A Tired Marathoner on the Verge of Heat Stroke. After Pleasantville, you run a ways along a nice, flat, bike path that snakes along Lake Champlain. It was really nice. There was some shade at this point, but the temps were crawling up. Much to my dismay.
CourseMap_2014-REV
Somewhere along Mile 23 I felt what I thought was hot oil being poured all over my foot. For a split second I thought I had broken a bone? Did I just get shot? An arrow through my foot? Katniss?!?! What the hell? Screw it. I’m not stopping. Ever. I may slow. But I won’t stop. I forget about the searing pain temporarily and trudge on through the last 5K. {Spoiler Alert: A blister the size of an apricot BURST on my baby toe. It wasn’t lava. It was primordial ooze. OUCH. Grody.}  I realize I am almost there. I get all sorts of choked up. Ok. I’m crying. As always I think about the journey.  Which this time was more like a Gyspy Caravan in a Stolen Rickshaw rather than a Smooth Trip. I can see the lake. I take my earbuds out just like I told my friend, Marathoner Salt to do. And I take it all in. I hear the announcers at The Finish! I summon my last hot kick.

And cross that finish line. BOOYAH!.

boooya

For Lucky Number Seven.

It might not be my 3:54, but I couldn’t be more proud of this race. Thanks KeyBank Vermont City Marathon. You’ve gone and made me proud.

Lucky Seven!

Lucky Seven!

Race Recap – Peak Snowshoe 10K (Yes, This is What Qualifies as Fun for Us. Feel Free to Judge.)

journeynotdestination

On Saturday morning, Colby, I and 3 other novice, yet intrepid, snowshoers (Andie, Diva Cindi and Heather) took on the Peak Races 10K Snowshoe Race in Pittsfield, Vermont. This race was one for the books.

I included the quote above because this race was most definitely an “it’s the journey, not the destination” experience for me. I went in with no expectations other than to finish. This was my 5th time on snowshoes, if there is a way to train for a snowshoe race, I don’t know it and didn’t do it, it was a difficult course and it was freaking cold. No Garmin, no stopwatch, heck – no watch at all. I didn’t even note my time when I crossed the finish line, as I was too focused on attending to some blisters and getting some soup. And let me tell ya, I know I won’t do it for every race, but when I am able to stop focusing on the destination, the journey definitely becomes really fun. Interestingly, the last race that felt this way for me was the Spartan Sprint Fenway – also put on by the Peak Race guys. They obviously know how to get me out of my zone, and I’m grateful.

The day starts early when you have to leave by 5:30 AM for a race. It was pitch black and freezing. By pitch black, I mean Vermont pitch black, which is as dark as you can get if there isn’t a lot of star cover. (If you live near a city, you may not even know this kind of black. It is overwhelming and beautiful. It also has a tendency to make you want to go back to bed). By freezing, I mean Minus-6 Degrees Fahrenheit. Minus 6. It cannot be said enough. Minus 6. Still, with plenty of nervous laughter and a warmed-up car, we got ready and headed up to the Green Mountain Trails for the race. Our entertainment on the ride was watching the temperature fluctuate between Minus 6, Minus 4 and Minus 2.

Exciting!

And unsettling.

The thermometer had bounced back down to minus 6 when we arrived at Riverside Farm for check in. We tried to console ourselves with the fact that some racers had begun the previous morning at 8 AM – racing through the dark and freezing night – in the 100 mile race, and were still going. Those were the real crazy people – not us! (Though many would beg to differ, including every person we ever told that we were doing this race).

Andie, Diva Cindi, Colby & Heather- Checked in and Ready to Go!!

Andie, Diva Cindi, Colby & Heather- Checked in and Ready to Go!!

Check in was painful. Literally, not figuratively. My toes were numb by the time I got my packet & snowshoes (yes! We got free snowshoes with our race registration!! Yippee!). The race volunteers were AWESOME – quick, exceptionally friendly and helpful, but even just the few minutes I spent moving through the line chilled me to the bone. Cue more nervous laughter. Lots.

After heading back to the car for a few to sit in the heat and sort out our layers, it was time to head up to the start. Temps had warmed up to just under zero by then. Oh joy.

Waiting for the start. I couldn't even bear to pull my balaclava off for a pic. Lowering it was the best I could do.

Waiting for the start. I couldn’t even bear to pull my balaclava off for a pic. Lowering it was the best I could do.

8 AM, and we were off! What a start. From the get-go, this race was no joke. The first mile was pretty much completely up hill. And by uphill, I mean the Matterhorn, not Blueberry. It was a straight-up climb, single track. Only a few speedy speedy racers were able to head off the side and zoom ahead of the groups. I personally was fine staying in the single track and absorbing the body heat of the people around me.

It wasn’t until after the first mile and a half that the groups started to spread out. Even throughout the remainder of the course, there were plenty of sections where you would come up behind groups and follow the leader through a single track. Since this was a “journey, not destination” race for me, it bothered me not at all. I generally only passed people if they were very out of pace or wanted me to. Otherwise, it was kind of nice to be in a pack and get to visit with people. It also made the several stretches where I was by myself – and could barely even see anyone else on the course – that much cooler.

Everybody's Shufflin'

Everybody’s Shufflin’

I am a newbie snowshoer, but I really could feel the benefits of my endurance running while climbing this insane mountain. I was tired, but not desperately so. I never felt that I needed to stop and though I could definitely feel my leg muscles working their hardest, I wasn’t uncomfortable. I tossed up a silent thanks for my love of distance running – it definitely helped.

Once we got to the top of the Matterhorn, we were rewarded with a cute stone cabin and an amazing view of the valley and the other mountains surrounding it. It was simply breathtaking, and I was so glad that this was a “journey, not destination” race for me, because I had no problem stopping to take it all in. I earned that view! And enjoyed it immensely.

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Shortly after passing the peak, we were treated even further to the “Labyrinth” section of the course – a heavily wooded area full of pine trees. It was gorgeous and magical. Sunlight peeked through the trees and shadows danced on the snow. It felt vast and cozy at the same time. The paths criss-crossed through the trees, so you felt like you were playing some sort of game. And maybe you were.

Of course, Peak Races’ tagline isn’t “Go Beyond Your Limits” for nothin’, so after the Labyrinth, it was not all smooth sailing. There were plenty more uphill sections of the course (just when you would think the hills had to be behind you, another would pop up!) and some incredibly steep downhill sections, which can be just as difficult to navigate, albeit in a different way. I personally loved the downhill sections, but then again, I also love to roll down hills in the snow without a sled, so maybe it is just me. I couldn’t resist throwing out a “Wheeee” everytime I slip-slided down one of those suckers. Some people decided just to slide down the hill on their backsides, which looked like fun. I did not have waterproof pants on, so opted out of that. Wet pants in zero degree weather didn’t seem quite as fun.

After a lot of ups and downs, periods of sensory deprivation (miles of looking at a snow-covered ground will do that to you), and beating up my quads, calves and hamstrings, I smelled the bonfires and knew I was getting close. Turned a corner, down a hill and there it was – the finish line! And Colby! And a fire! And soup! Blessed warmth!

The Happy Finishers!

The Happy Finishers!

Truth be told, I was actually pretty warm throughout most of the race, and shed a lot of layers. But I’ve been around the skiing block enough to know that I would be freezing my butt off within 10 minutes of stopping, however, so was extremely grateful for the fire. And the soup.

Of course, I wouldn’t be me if I failed to mention that Colby finished 8th and I finished 10th overall for women in the race. I think we’re both pretty happy with our finish places! This race was HARD.

The race organizers at the end were just as friendly and wonderful as the people who checked us in earlier that morning. I gotta say, this race had one of the best atmospheres of any races I have done. Maybe it was the extreme weather, maybe it was the fact that many people were newish to snowshoeing so people weren’t taking themselves too seriously, or maybe it is just that snowshoers are nice people. Whatever it was, I talked to great people before the race, during the race and after the race. And of course, I rode home with some of the best people in the world.

I snowshoed a 6.5 mile loop with 1900’ of vertical climb in sub zero temps and can honestly say that it was a great way to spend a Saturday. I wish that they were holding the same race this weekend , so I could do it all again.
Now that is saying something.

What a Difference a Day (or Two) Makes

A view from one of the snowshoe trails at Mt. Snow

A view from one of the snowshoe trails at Mt. Snow

There’s an old saying that goes, “If you don’t like the weather in New England, just wait a minute.”

Two days ago, I snowshoed up Mt. Snow in Vermont under a gently, but steadily, falling snow.

Snowshoeing under a steady snow...

Snowshoeing under a steady snow…

Yesterday, I took the same snowshoe route up the mountain under clouds and mild air, only to snowshoe back down and find myself in slush and a freezing rain.

A mere 24 hours later and snow has stopped...layers are being ditched by the minute...and although I don't know it yet, it will be raining by the time I get back to the base of the mountain.

A mere 24 hours later and snow has stopped…layers are being ditched by the minute…and although I don’t know it yet, it will be raining by the time I get back to the base of the mountain.

Today, back in my corner of Connecticut, I went for a run under sunny skies with temps in the mid-50’s. Shorts. T-shirt. Sunglasses. Sunscreen. Sure, I still ran alongside massive snowbanks (those suckers aren’t melting any time soon), but…but…Shorts! T-Shirt! Sunglasses! SUNSCREEN!

New England, you are one crazy, temperamental bitch.

No wonder I love you so much.

Vermont Covered Bridges Half Marathon – The Recap

What we signed up to run.

What we signed up to run through.

What we actually ran.

What we actually ran on.

Let me tell ya, this race was less about covered bridges (there were only 2) and more about running miles and miles on hot asphalt that felt like running on the surface of the sun (there were probably 10 of those).

Holy heatwave.

For anyone who is not in the Northeastern United States, we had a heatwave over the weekend that extended into Vermont.  Yes, that same green, leafy, normally-cool Vermont where we had a half-marathon on Sunday.  Given that it SNOWED in Vermont over Memorial Day weekend, running in a heatwave was the last thing on our minds until a few days before the race, when we finally had to accept the forecast as accurate. Now, some of you Southerners might love a good heatwave, but Colby and I are New Englanders – cold weather people.  Throw us a deep freeze – we love it! Give us a blizzard – we’ll grab our Yak Trax! Hurl an icy wind at us – that’s what balaclavas are for!   But heat? Haze? Humidity? That’s what makes these grown women cry.

Nonetheless, that’s what we had on our hands on Sunday.  A “situation.” A hot, hazy, humid situation. It was 76 degrees at the start (at 8:15 AM) and somewhere in the mid- 80’s at the finish. Aside from a 2 mile stretch on a trail alongside a shady stream (which felt like a different race altogether), it was hot, sticky and uncomfortable for every single step of that damn race. But we did it. And I must say, Colby and I are pretty freaking proud of ourselves. We worked hard for this one and we did it. We are especially proud of Colby’s sister Andie, who has been sick and unable to train properly and nonetheless finished the race, raising $500 for a local homeless shelter in the process. That is determination. Go, Andie!!

If I may digress from race recap for a minute, I have to share what an AWESOME weekend it was, hot and miserable race aside.  We stayed at Andie’s adorable weekend house in Vermont and she was a hostess extraordinaire. We essentially had a private chef in the form of her friend Terri, who came to cheer us on and made us an amazing dinner on Saturday. And we had our wonderful friend Michelle, who also came to cheer us on, provided lots of laughs and fun girl talk and stocked us up with every magazine currently in print. It was a great girls’ weekend and I don’t think I have been that relaxed in ages.

When I arrived at Andie’s house, the first thing I realized was that I didn’t get cell service there.  What a gift! For a mother of 3, to have a weekend getaway while the kids are home with the husband is a treat. To arrive and find that no one can reach you easily is like checking into a hotel and finding that they have upgraded you to the Presidential Suite. We spent Saturday doing nothing – the most important kind of nothing, where you sit around and talk about everything from Kim Kardashian’s Met Ball gown (Oh, my) to ideas for new business launches. Heaven.

OK, back to the $%^%$#*!# race.

The course was beautiful and it would have been a really fun race had it not been so miserably hot. The course started at Suicide Six, a small ski area in Pomfret, Vermont, then wound its way to and through the town of Woodstock. If you have not been to Woodstock, think of what a Hollywood set for “quintessential quaint New England town” would look like. That’s Woodstock. (Also, if you have not been to Woodstock, you should go. Seriously. Put it on your list. Beautiful town.) The course continued along sizzling country roads and that heavenly shaded trail, through two covered bridges and ended at the Polo Fields in Queechee, Vermont.  The scenery was beautiful and wonderful people lined the course to cheer us on. Even the bands that played along the course were like something from central casting for a Vermont town  – high school bands, fife & drum corps, senior citizen music groups in straw boaters playing Glen Miller songs and even a drum circle of bongos to represent Vermont’s crunchier side. Oh, how I wish I could have taken it all in and enjoyed it more. But the heat!

This was absolutely a put one foot in front of the other type race. Self talk was the only thing that pushed me through the discomfort. That, and wearing a visor (I don’t know what I would have done if the sun had actually been able to beat down on my face) and stopping at every water station for a cup of water or two. Definitely the type of race where you need to focus on running smart, not fast. Now that I’m home and fully cooled off – 2 days later- I can say that I am glad I ran this race because I am proud of how I ran it. If I ever start to doubt the power of mind over matter, I will think of this race. I talked myself through every uncomfortable mile. And did it.

I am, however, still thirsty.

Picture Perfect Run.

I spent last weekend in Grafton, Vermont with The Fam. It really is one of my favorite places to visit. Unplug. Unwind. Reboot. Drink yourself silly. (Ok maybe the last one was a bit much, but, hey, at least I’m honest.) It’s a peaceful. Serene. Far away enough without being FAR. Running here is becoming one of my favorite things to do. Riding even more so. I finished my last 20 miler on Friday, hopped in the car and headed up. I ran this route Saturday, the day The Fam had Easter. Needless to say I ate my weight, drank my height, and laughed my ass off. Everything a holiday with family should be. Here is Saturday’s Run. In pictures…

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Simply a beautiful, crisp spring day. How could I NOT go for a quiet morning run in Grafton Vermont?  I mean really….

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Had I realized there would be this much snow floating around, I would have brought my trusty snow shoes. (Duh Colby. It’s Vermont.)

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Crisp and chilly in the shade. I love running along the river.

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Sans snow, it’s the perfect place to chill. Ok. Maybe with the snow too, but for now, I’m runnin’.

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Tin roof. Rusted….

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There’s a church. And a steeple. Where the hell are all the people? (Sleeping off hangovers. That’s where…)

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Sweet Jesus. Screw the snowshoes. I should have worn a hard hat…

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Right turn Clyde. Goin’ with the flow….

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Fun Fact: The Grafton Inn is one of the oldest continually operating Inns in the country. Neat huh?

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Ain’t much going on. Except a beautiful 5 mile run around town.

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Pups allowed! Leon James and Pearl Anne love it here. This time, they’re at the “Spa”.

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Not exactly sure what the Village Pump is. It’s old though. (And kinda sounds dirty.) I loved the wrought iron sign post. It sits on the river near a pretty little covered bridge.

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There is nothing like a Ye Olde Tavern. Especially one we don’t have to drive to.

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Which way should I go? The only decision I made. Well that and whether I wanted a drink drink or wine. (Answer: Both.)

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Sweet little village.

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Dead Head. ‘Nuff said.

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One of many. In June, Tina, my sister and I return to run the Covered Bridge Half Marathon. So looking forward to it. That and leaves. Gimme some green already!

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View from the bridge. I don’t want to turn back.

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Hurricane Irene devastated Vermont. It nearly wiped out the town. Standing since 1870, this little covered bridge is as tough as nails.

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I could run forever….

2013 Peak Snowshoe Challenge and a big old steaming cup of CRAZY

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Locked and Loaded!

Peer pressure. That’s how I got wrapped up in a crazy ass snowshoe race in Pittsfield, Vermont yesterday- The Peak Snowshoe Challenge. I have this amazing little sprite of a badass friend who posted a link and a “Ok. Who else of you crazies is in?!” on Facebook. (I should also add she’s an Ultra Runner and blogger. She’s also fabulous. But I digress…) You know how that goes. Race Peer Pressure. Thats all it takes. The mighty power of suggestion. Who’s in!? Suddenly I’m all “Dude! I’m in!!!” Suddenly, I’ve registered for a half-marathon on snowshoes in Vermont. Suddenly, I have a knot in my stomach with “Who the hell do I think I am?” written all over it.

How many times have I raced in snowshoes? 0.00.
How many times have I actually been on snowshoes? 1.0.
Insane, yet ambitious.

The dust settles and I realize that the 10k “Fun Run” is more “appropriate” pre-Big Sur Marathon. Nothing like a novel adventure to blow out a knee or twist an ankle. (Be smart Colby. It doesn’t mean you’re a wuss.) I come to my senses, and downgrade. I still haven’t read a lick about the course, but, I’m in! And that’s all that matters.

I learn on the drive up that I am running 1 loop (whatever that means). Ok. Cool. How bad can that be? No sweat. The 1 loop is 6.5 miles in the Green Mountains of Vermont. On snowshoes. And has 1200′ vertical. That’s the “Fun Run.” There’s also a Half- Marathon (2 loops), a Full Marathon (4 loops) and an Ultra (Fruit Loops) which had a 36 hour cut off. (Yes. They started the day before.) I learn Peak Races sponsors a “Death Race”. I want to turn around. (Nope. No. Way. I’m in!!!)

Off we go to the start. Me, My Fabulous Ultra Running Friend and her my new friend Another Ultra Runner. (Christ. This joint is crawling with Crazies.) Coffee, power bar, register, strap in. It’s snowing. It’s beautiful. It’s a big stinking mountain. I declare that I have zero expectations. I just don’t want to finish last. Or get hurt. And then I hear it.

Girls giggling.
In costumes.

While I have no aversion to giggling girls or tutus (I am/have both), I’m not a fan of them this particular morning. I lock eyes with my friend. She reads my mind: You are beating the Giggling Girls. It went from “Fun Run” to “Bitch, Game On!” with a single giggle. Now I’m really ready. My friends are off-and taking no prisoners- on their half-marathon adventure! (Double checking prior that they weren’t registered for the full marathon. See? Peer Pressure will getcha.) I’m off next. There’s a slew of people. Giggling Girls are within earshot. 3-2-1. Go!

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And away I go!

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This is what 1200′ vertical looks like. (Gulp!)

Holy. Shit.

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Such great fun. Excellent race. Stellar time.

In all of my life I have never done anything as difficult as this. I wonder if my Ultra Friends think the same. (Answer: They do. Phew!) Climb? A Sherpa would have cringed. Almost all-fours steep. For miles. Single track. Switchbacks. Wicked technical. And up, up, I go. Running as much as I possibly can. I was The Telltale Heart. TILT! Redlining. I will not stop moving. Finally it “levels” rolling along through the “Labyrinth”, an absolutely beautiful section through the pines, winding back and forth. It’s shady, like a place you would play hide and seek in when you were little. Quiet and peaceful, I feel alive. I am having fun. I am running. Huge, huge smile.

What goes up must come down. Yeah, you got it Newton. Steep. Downhill. Trees. Off-camber. I am at times completely out of control. Borderline avalanche material. Running downhill, navigating trees and switchbacks on snowshoes. I let out a Whoop! Laughing at how ridiculously exhilarating this is. My quads don’t think so. They’re giving me the finger. Neither do my bloody ankles which have been shredded from the narrow single track. Ouch. Tears in my eyes. It’s just a flesh wound. I’m almost done! So what I’ve run into a tree? I didn’t fall. Or stop. Mission almost accomplished. I listen for The Giggling Girls…

Nothin’.

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Mission Accomplished!

I finish 3rd in my age group (!!!) Proud. Happy. Exhilarated. Thrilled that I succumbed to Race Peer Pressure and tried something completely ridiculous new. This year is all about getting uncomfortable- pushing myself out of my comfort zone. Only then can you change. Evolve even. Oh I’m uncomfortable all right. And am lovin’ every damn minute of it.

Next year I’ll have another Big Old Cup of Crazy please. With a side of Half-Marathon.

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Peer Pressure: Carly, Colby and Gary. Thanks Guys!!!