Monday, October 16, 2017

BBU Aid Station Fun

A great day yesterday helping out at Ryan's aid station on the Big Brad course! As always, such fun to spend the day chatting with friends, cheering on and helping out the runners as they passed through on their way to 50k or 50 miles, and just plain enjoying the awesomeness that is an aid station during an ultra.

Much like last year, Sam wanted to stay all day long, far past the end of our 3 1/2 hour shift, and she pitched right in and helped out from start to finish, filling soda cups, making sandwiches and helping runners fill their water bottles and bladders, all with a smile. Aid station pro :) We are lucky parents, for sure! 💖





Sunday, October 15, 2017

Busy Week

Another big training week in the books, which along with two XC meets, two swim team practices, and the aforementioned birthday and anniversary made for a very busy but fun week!

Monday morning, I got up and out right after sunrise to get in a run before the birthday celebrations began. It was a soggy, heavy morning. Ran out in the Cathance and saw two deer, five turkey and six mallards. Breaking in a new pair of Nike Wildhorse 3s in prep for Pinhoti. I have really come to like these shoes, but this third pair is no different from the first or second in that I've found they don't instantly feel good; they seem to need a more intensive breaking-in period than the Inov-8 Ultra 290s. More runs will be needed over the next few weeks to get these ready to wear. (8.1 miles)

Tuesday morning dawned muggy, heavy and foggy. 6x up and down both Suicide and Chicken Hill for a total of 12 repeats on wet pavement in the dark. Not as fast as last week's workout but got it done. (7.1 miles)

Mom joined me up at the Y in the afternoon to watch Sam's swim team practice, and then she and Sam had dinner out while Ryan and I had the chance to enjoy an anniversary date night to Frontier. Delish as always and good to have an evening out with Ryan :)

Wednesday was Sam's last midweek XC meet of the fall season down in Falmouth. A gorgeous fall day to run through the fields, and super proud of her strength and focus during this race!

Game face :)

Striding along!

Thursday morning truly felt like a fall morning. Gone was the muggy heaviness of earlier this week, replaced by crisp cool (maybe even cold!) air. Ahhh.... I even wore tights and gloves! Started at 5:04 am and ran the cart paths forwards and backwards, a really nice option for early morning darkness, as there is less to trip over, and it's easier to just glide along. ;)  8 of the 10 miles were done in the dark. But the stars were beautiful overhead and Venus was in view too, which is very cool. Felt decent and was able to keep up a fairly peppy pace given the darkness. (10.0 miles)

A little light at the end of a dark run

Friday morning, I met up with Emily at Bradbury. She had messaged asking if I was planning to run long today as she had the day off, so yay, fun company for the run! I was a bit nervous as she is young and fit, and I am, well, like 15 years old than her and not as speedy ;) but it was a great run and we had a good time chatting the miles away. I may have chatted a bit too much though, as I was not good about taking in fuel, but it's all good.

It was a very cold start, like 36 degrees cold, but a beautiful morning, sunny and bright, and the trails were strewn with brightly colored fallen leaves. We ran the east side BBU course section then headed up to the summit and out onto the Connector. Emily hadn't run the Wiggles before, so we took that route down to Lawrence Road and then at the top of the field, turned left to explore the new trail that's been blazed out through the woods along Chandler Brook and out to Elmwood Road. It was fun to run a new stretch of trail but it definitely needs some more foot traffic as it was a bit hard to follow in spots and very lightly traveled so far. We ran down the road a short ways and hooked up with the powerlines back to the Connector to return to the park.

Back to the lot with only 15+ miles on my watch so it was back to the east side for a meander. We ran into Val and Mindy and Evan marking the BBU course for Sunday's race, and managed to finish up with 20 miles showing on my watch at least! Although Emily's company had made the miles fly by, I could tell my legs were tired and I would have been more than happy to stop, but instead, I topped my pack off with a bit more water and headed out to run to the summit and back for 2 more miles. I was content with 22 solid miles and happy to have had Emily's cheerful company out there!

I stopped into Edna & Lucy's for a cup of soup and hung out with Mindy, Val and Evan for a few minutes before heading off to get my flu shot, do the end-of-the-week Target and grocery shopping run, get groceries put away, dishwasher emptied and laundry started before I rushed off to get Sam at school so she could get her flu shot! We decided that the shots called for a stop at Gelato Fiasco for some pumpkin pie gelato to soothe the arm pain before we headed home :)

Ice cream makes everything better ;) 
(And don't mind my hair - I didn't have time to shower before heading to pick up! 😁 😂)

Saturday morning, I slept in as much as the cats would allow, got myself ready and headed out around 7:20 into the sun on the powerlines. Much warmer this morning and humid again. Weird weather, for sure... I was happy to find that my legs felt pretty decent and fairly strong, although overall, I most certainly felt fatigued. I kept the pace mellow and meandered along the powerlines, enjoying the smell of the hay scented ferns and the red berries on the winterberry bushes brightening the now browning brush along the trailside. After the powerlines loop, I returned to the high school and then headed up and over Mt. A. to head out into the Cathance for the second half of my miles. 

River reflections

Red and green

The trails were littered with fall leaves and although the river is extremely low right now, it is still incredibly scenic out in the woods. These miles were a bit slower but I just kept chugging along. Added on an extra loop on the roads along Canam to round out the miles before heading home. A good long training weekend done and another 60+ mile week in the books. Now, bring on the taper! (15.0 miles)

After a bit of relaxation and a quick clean of the house since it was neglected yesterday, we headed down to Twin Brook for the Coastal Running League championship meet, the last XC meet of the season for Sam. 

Down the field 

Home stretch!

A beautiful, warm afternoon for the last meet of the season and Sam did great, running very focused! Very proud of her for running strong all season long!

After the meet we headed out to Toots for an ice cream and some time at the farm, wandering around looking at the animals and feeding grass to the goats! A fun way to celebrate a good XC season :)

Feeding the goats

Today is a no running day but we'll be heading over to Bradbury shortly to volunteer at Ryan's aid station at the BBU and to cheer everyone out running the races today! 


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

8 & 18

October 9th and 10th are busy days in our house!

Yesterday, Samantha turned 8! How time flies, truly, and oh how we are blessed to have such a happy, sassy, curious, strong, smiley, smart little girl in our lives 💖

My mom flew in on Sunday, and we spent Sam's birthday eating donuts, apple and pumpkin picking in the rain, getting Sam's favorite sushi for dinner and of course, getting pumpkin pie gelato for dessert! A lovely day off together celebrating one of our favorite people :)

Breakfast donuts! 🍩 💗

Trees laden with apples

Neenie and Sam among the branches

Apples and foliage

8 years old!

Crunch!

Fall colors beyond the field

Boo!

Finishing up the evening reading about strong women! 

On our end, our anniversary gets, rightfully so, overshadowed by Sam's birthday but I would be remiss if I didn't mention that 18 years ago today I married my best friend and boy, did we have a good wedding celebration! :) I am a lucky lady to go through life's ups and downs and on fun adventures with my best friend, partner and someone who always supports me and believes in me. Happy 18th Anniversary, Ryan, and here's hoping for 18+ more! 💕


Saturday, October 7, 2017

Big

Down to the last two big weeks before the taper for Pinhoti. Holy crap!!! Time sure does fly when you're having fun, or trying to train for an upcoming 100! 😂😁😃

Monday, I slept. (There was 0.8 miles of running in the evening with Sam's XC team, but that was more of a shuffle.)

Tuesday, I was up and out at 5:20 am, long before it was light, for a tour of the cart paths and a run down to the river and back. It was a cold morning, only 40 degrees - brrr! - so it was tights and gloves for me! Scared up quite a few deer in the woods along the Heath and thoroughly enjoyed the morning light show as the sun rose. (8 miles)

Morning light on the Heath

Never tire of watching the sun rise on my early morning runs

Wednesday, up and out in the dark again, this time for some hill work on Mt. A. Nothing super speedy but an attempt at steady on the ups and quicker on the downs. 12 times up and down - 6 on Suicide; 6 on Chicken. Watched the fiery sunrise through the trees. (7 miles)

#hillsforbreakfast

Wednesday afternoon was Sam's 3rd XC meet of the season. She may be the smallest of the 3/4 milers, is probably the youngest by about a year, and has most definitely been finishing in the back of the pack but but she is a tough one :)

Stridin' to the finish line

Thursday I just plain and simple did not want to get up in the morning. Three mornings in a row of 4:00 am-ish wake-ups is tough, so I slept instead. Of course, then I was kicking myself, so I decided I'd run after Sam's XC practice, which today was the traditional end of the season run to Dairy Queen. Thankfully, Ryan was on board with the plan and understands the need to juggle training with sleep and all the other things we have going on in life. I am a lucky lady. So, Sam and I ran with the team to DQ, enjoyed a tasty frozen treat together and then Ryan took Sam home while I ran home the long way via the cart paths and powerlines. Saw six deer and one fox along the cart paths. It was a lovely, quiet evening, with fall foliage beginning to show and that soft evening light as the sun set. I was able to run most of my miles without a headlamp, as I was out in the open, but finally had to acquiesce at mile 6. Not my typical run for the day but it worked :) (0.9 miles to DQ 7 miles)

DQ with my girl

Evening light over the Heath

Fall colors, evening light

Friday morning, I headed up to Riverlands for a run. Michael Wade had posted on FB that he was planning to make the journey over and I figured why not? I left the house when Ryan and Sam did, so was able to take my time and get in a few extra miles before the group arrived. I decided to check out some of the singletrack near the start of the ATV/snowmobile trail and I was not disappointed. Homestead and Porcupine were fun twisty singletrack with some beautiful views of the river and a lot of fun!

Pretty morning light

River reflections

A bit of fall foliage

Peaceful

Leaf-littered singletrack

I didn't want to go too far so when I popped back out on the ATV trail and saw that I still had some time, I did a little extra out and back before returning to the lot. Of course, as I was running back down the trail, it started to rain. Huh?!? So much for that beautiful sky along the river! But at least it wasn't hot ;)

At the lot, I found Michael, along with his friend, Jess, and her friends Chris and Sean. Val drove in at the last minute, and we didn't linger much longer before taking off up the trail as the rain was coming down fairly heavily. Val guided us through the first few miles of sweet singletrack before turning around to meet up with Xar, and luckily, Michael and I both had a sense of where the course went, although there were a few intersections where we had to stop to ponder things a bit. I'd say the singletrack is the best part of the course. The rest, while still lovely and with some nice views out into red maple-ringed swamps and down onto the river, is a wide ATV/snowmobile trail with a lot of loose rock and sand and it is surprisingly tough running. Still, it is always nice to run someplace different, and it was great to have company! We ran together some, ran in different groups some, had some good laughs and chats, and got to know each other and catch up a bit as we trundled along. The pace was fairly mellow with some walking of the steeper pitches and some quick paced sections where the trail was smooth and flat. The rain stopped maybe 8 miles in and the sun came out, but the humid air remained and I was pretty well soaked by the end. Still, it was a good day for a long run and I was happy to have been able to join in with this random group and get in my miles! I think we were all feeling it at the end, but it was fun :) (24.0 miles)

Crazy runners ;)

Saturday morning, I waited until it was light to set out. I missed the sunrise but it was still a lovely morning. Ran out through the Cathance to Head of Tides. The trails were quiet, except for me scaring up a number of ducks along the river. My legs felt fairly decent but overall I was just plain tired, so I took it easy and just focused on enjoying the morning, stopping multiple times to take in the views of the foliage reflecting in the water. Oh so gorgeous. Fall and spring rival each other for my favorite season - brilliant colors and cool temps versus emerging wildflowers and greening landscapes. Hard to decide, so I just enjoy them both in the moment ;) (12.1 miles)

Morning reflections

The Heath never fails to disappoint

Brilliant colors

Fall along the river

Super happy to have finished up the week with 60.1 miles, but glad for a day off tomorrow! Now I just hope I have enough energy for tonight's birthday sleepover 😄😁😂

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Back At It

A super mellow week to recover from VT.

Three days off followed by a dark, humid, muggy, heavy, slow run around the Heath on Thursday morning. Scared up one deer along the trail around the Heath, and saw one other pair of eyes out along the edge of the golf course. Not sure what it was... cat? fox? raccoon? Whatever it was, it stayed put down amongst the grasses right near the edge of a big tree. Also ran into Jim Gott and friend, getting ready to head up into the woods just as it was getting light near the end of my run, so stopped and chatted for a few minutes before continuing on. Overall, body felt decent but my quads were most definitely still tender. (4.1 miles)

Sky just beginning to lighten as I rounded the Heath

Friday morning, I was able to sleep in and head out a bit later in the morning. Beautifully crisp morning, much more fall-like - yay! Ran out into the Cathance and along the river, enjoying the blue skies and cool air. Followed up the run with a most welcome massage from Lauren before tackling the rest of my To Do list for the day. (6.1 miles)

Blue skies reflected

Morning light along the river

Yesterday I ended up not running. Part of me was fairly distressed about that fact, but I know it was the right thing to do. 50 miles, then three days off with sore quads, then run four days in a row? Probably not smart. Even if I really felt like I should get in more miles this week. Better to take another zero today and be ready to hit the ground running next week for the final two big weeks of the build. Still, it pained me ever so slightly to know that September was finishing up at 190 miles, not the 200+ I had hoped. But on the upside, I hit 1,500 miles for the year at some point during the VT50 so my goal of 2,000 is still doable if all goes well this final quarter of the year. Onward and upward.

We headed up to Keri and Tyler's in the late afternoon, enjoying an early dinner of wood-fired pizza, salad and cupcakes along with some great company and good chatter together, before all heading to bed early in preparation for the Sunday's Race Through the Woods at Hidden Valley. It was great to catch up with them all, and as always, they are great hosts. Thanks for a fun evening and for letting us stay over, guys!

Keri and I were up well before the crack of down so that we could run the course before she had to be back at the barn for registration at 8:00. Headlamp most definitely needed, and it was only 35 degrees when we hit the trails at 5:30 am. Brrr! The Hidden Valley trails are beautiful but rugged in a not well-trodden kind of way. It was slightly tricky and slow going in the dark but we chatted away as we ran along and a few miles in, up along one of the higher ridgelines, we could see the sunrise through the trees. Gorgeous. The course loops back to the start about 5 miles in, and after a quick pitstop for me in the outhouse, we continued on to the other side of the course. Some beautiful woods and nice views along misty little ponds, running grassy double-track and twisty, leave covered singletrack. I was happy to have my legs be feeling pretty good with no quad soreness - yay! Keri turned off about 10.5 miles in to head back to the start and I continued on the course for the final 2+ miles. My legs probably would have preferred the shortcut but I was rewarded with gorgeous singletrack along the edge of Little Dyer Pond. The fog was lifting off the lake, the reddening maples were reflecting in the water and it was oh so pretty. I kept having to stop to take in the view :) (12.9 miles)

Dawn rising 

About 8 miles in, we hiked up this really steep hill along the course and came across Linda, hanging out on the porch of Two Dog Hut, just lounging ;) Too funny! And what a place to stay the night!

So beautiful

Mist rising along Little Dyer Pond

Reflections

After cheering on the runners for a bit, Jenn and I volunteered to assist at a few of the obstacles during the kid's race and and got in a nice walk on some of the singletrack as we headed out to our posts, complete with a detour down to the bog bridge out into a neat bog filled with an insane amount of pitcher plants and reddening cranberry bushes. Once again, beautiful.

Cool bog (and so many pitcher plants in the foregound!)

Cotton sedge, pitcher plants and cranberry bog

Sam was all smiles when she came through my station, and had a ton of fun out there! They even went back out to do the course a second time after their official finish ;)

Happy smiley obstacle course running kid :)

Once the races were done, awards were given out and the finish area was picked up, we all headed over to Oxbow and spent a few hours hanging outside at the picnic tables, drinking beer, eating cheese, crackers and cupcakes, laughing and talking. The perfect way to wrap up a great day spent out in the woods with friends!



Wednesday, September 27, 2017

VT: The Aftermath

A few lessons learned from the VT50:

1. I need to do a bit more downhill preparation work in the upcoming month. My quads were feeling the hills by about 37 miles and it became hard to run downhill. One of my goals this year was to increase my leg strength, and I've been doing two short and sweet body-weight leg workouts a week, but obviously I still have some work to do. I spent the rest of Sunday, all of Monday and most of Tuesday hobbling around and having to go down the stairs sideways. This morning, I felt well enough to walk downstairs normally and did some rolling and stretching and feel like I'll be able to comfortably get back to running tomorrow, but some downhill repeats will be on the schedule the next few weeks, for sure!

2. I need to do a better job of reapplying Bodyglide during long races, especially hot ones! Since I was basically wet for 10 hours straight, my skin took a beating and I got chafed everywhere, and I mean, everywhere. Interestingly, I really thought I was fine as I didn't feel any of it until I got in the shower on Sunday night. But obviously, it was there! The only  exception was noticing the tops of my toes and the back of my legs near my sock line feeling rubbed in the final 5 miles of the race or so. Turns out, running through fine dust for 50 miles combined with sweat dripping down my legs for a long period of time created a lovely grit that caused the skin on the tops of my toes to get rubbed raw and created a lovely line of chafe/scratch along my socks lines on both legs. In fact, on Tuesday when I wore a skirt and my typical work crocs into work instead of pants and compression socks like I did on Monday, my boss said, ummm, you've got some serious scratches on your leg there, and I had to explain what had happened. I am not sure he knew what to say 😂😂

3. Taking time to regroup at aid stations as necessary is time well spent. I really needed the time at all the crew stops to stop and reassess and refuel and attend to what needed to be done to keep me moving (although see #2 above as a point missed in this equation). I know it is imperative to move through aid stations as efficiently as possible so as not to lose too much valuable time but sometimes a few extra minutes means the rest of the miles are able to go more smoothly.

4. It is nice to be reminded that I can go through a bad patch and be able to turn things around. I had some fairly negative thoughts coming into the 50k aid station, but once I got up and kept going, I was able to run a fairly decent last 20 miles with a positive mindset. As Ryan says, I don't really do intensity (ie. speed) but I do do tenacity 😂😂

5. Be proud of your effort! Enough said.

Combined medal rack. I do so love this reminder of all the cool stuff we've done!

Back at it tomorrow! :)

Monday, September 25, 2017

2017 Vermont 50 Race Report

So apparently if you want to run a race in unseasonably hot weather, you just have to make sure I am entered! 😂😂  This year's edition of the VT50, in its 25th year, was held in a heatwave, with none of the typical mud that everyone talks about in reference to the race. All week long, predictions were for near record high heat across New England, and Mother Nature did not disappoint, with the actual high for Ascutney reaching 90 degrees on race day. Now, that is hot!!

Stress levels for the week were running a bit high, with the high temps weighing heavily on my mind, along with the fact that Sam had picked up a cold earlier in the week and had developed a pretty bad cough. I was worried about dragging her along when she wasn't feeling great and wondered if I was just being selfish in wanting she and Ryan to come with me for the weekend. Such is the reality of being an ultrarunning mom. There is always something (or someone) to worry about! And just focusing on the things in your own control is tough. I know Ryan was wondering whether I'd be able to put the stress out of my mind enough to focus and complete the race, but we decided to get the car packed up anyway and hope for the best. After all, sometimes just making the decision to get out the door is the hardest part.

We headed over to Vermont on Saturday morning, stopped for lunch along the way and got me checked in for the race before heading to set up our campsite at Ascutney State Park. There was free camping available in the field near the race start, but I was willing to shell out a few extra bucks for a nice, quiet campsite and a good camping experience for the three of us.

The campground was quite nice, and after dinner at Harpoon Brewery, we headed back for a fire and marshmallow roasting before going to bed fairly early in anticipation of a long, busy day on Sunday.

Home for the night...

Dinner outside

Carbo loading is a good thing, right? And this Cranberry wheat beer was delish!

Fire!

Firelight family selfie ;)

We had picked up some different cough medicine for Sam and she konked right out, allowing all of us to get a better night sleep, which was a welcome relief!

I woke up at 4:00 am for breakfast and coffee and to get organized, and apparently there were a bunch of other racers who had had the same idea as us, as there were headlamps moving around at all the campsites around us :) Ha!

We headed over to Ascutney for the 5:30 pre-race meeting. It was a bit surreal arriving and finding the start area overtaken with bikes. This is a pretty big event overall, with 6 waves of bikers (650 finishers) going off before the 50 miler runners started at 6:30 am.

That's a lot of bikes...

While we were milling around (the pre-race meeting was essentially useless), we ran into Dave Bidler, who was there to crew and pace a friend running his first 50. It was fun to catch up with him for a bit before the race start.

As the sky lightened, the waves of bikers headed off down the road and the start area thinned out. There were plenty of port-a-potties, which was nice, as I think between the runners and bikers there were over 800 people there. Crazy!

Pre-race family portrait :) Love my crew!

At 6:30, with little fanfare, us crazy runners lined up and were soon off and running down the paved resort road. My plan was to keep things as easy as possible. Especially given the predicted heat, this was to be a time on my feet effort and running fast had no part in that plan :)

The first hill came just as my watch beeped mile 1. OK, Vermont, I see what you are doing here ;) The views as we hiked up the road were spectacular, mist rising up from the valley, the hills off in the distance. We passed cows grazing in the field, beautiful houses, grassy fields, and the hills just kept on coming. The race was a good mix of dirt road, fields and single and doubletrack through the woods. I had been a bit worried about the roads, but in fact, it was nice to be able to get into a groove and just go on those sections. And the singletrack, which in other years apparently has been quite muddy, was this year a soft dusty track between rocks and roots.

I tried hard to keep my pace really really mellow in the first 12 miles, and people were simply flying by me like I was standing still. Aid stations were nicely spaced every 4-6 miles, and I did stop to use the port-a-potty at the first aid station before moving on to the singletrack through the woods.

I came into the mile 12 aid station and ran right to the bathroom before meeting up with Ryan and Sam for a quick water and gel refill, and a little chatting to get caught up on their morning. It was only around 8:30 in the morning and I was already soaked. It didn't feel super warm yet, but the air was heavy. I wiped the sweat off my face with a cloth and headed on.

Heading out of the mile 12 aid station

The next crew stop was at 50k, but with several aid stations in between, things were nicely broken up. I got into a groove of powerhiking and passing the group of guys I was around on the uphills, only to have them fly by me on the downhills. Classic. Around mile 15, I realized that the sweat was starting to run down the back of my shorts into my shoes. Things were warming up indeed. 

I had been doing a decent job of taking a gel every half hour, but at the mile 18 aid station, I started in on the Coke, my ultra fuel of choice, especially in the heat ;) A cup of water, two cups of coke and I was back on my way. Then again at mile 22 and again at mile 26, with ice in my hat at both of those aid stations too. Although much of the course was actually in the shade, the heat was pervasive and with little air movement, things were getting more than warm, it was just plain toasty out there. 

Sometime in the span between mile 26 and the crew stop at mile 31, I started to feel a bit woozy, I wasn't sweating much, I was having thoughts of stopping at 50k, rationalizing that I didn't really need a 50 miler, that 50k was more than enough, that I could do a big weekend next weekend too, that surely Ryan would understand. As the trail wound through open woods and the dust kicked up and stuck to my sweaty legs, and the ice melted, leaving me hot and tired, I was sure I was going to drop. I mean, who cares? It was just supposed to be a training race...

Meanwhile, Ryan and Sam had had lunch, gotten ice for me and were waiting in the blazing sun at mile 31. I ran out of the woods, into the field and was surprised to see so many people at the aid station. Where had they all come from?! I swear there were not that many people around me out on the trail... turns out it must have been an influx of 50kers coming in from another direction, but it was disconcerting to me and Ryan just thought I was plain crazy ;)

Brian Rusieki, 2nd place runner, running into mile 31

Beautiful view

Coming into 50k

Ryan had set up a chair and our stuff over in the shade so I bypassed the aid station out in the blazing sun and ran over to sit down. I told him I wasn't feeling good, and he said of course you're not. I told him wanted to go home with them, but he said that was not an option and shoved a popsicle in my hand. Well that Minutemaid Frozen Lemonade pop from Dave's cooler was just the best thing ever! Delish! I also chugged back some coke, had a few fritos and grapes, and let Ryan put the ice bandana around my neck. I hadn't been sure I wanted it, but man did that cold ice feel good!

Iced up and being pushed back on the trail ;)

Of course, once I said the words aloud and Ryan dismissed them, I knew I was in it for the long haul. I felt much better having sat for a few minutes, taken in some calories and gotten cooled off. It was going to be a long day, for sure, but once I left, I didn't have any more noise in my head about stopping. The only thing to do was to push to the finish. 

Cranky runner endless waiting :) My littlest crew member 💗💗

The stretch between the 50k aid station and the 37 mile aid station seemed to go on forever. The trail was some lovely singletrack but it just wound on and on and on and it never seemed like we were getting anywhere. Not to mention, I kept hearing music and thought for sure we were close, when in fact, it was an impromptu aid station set up in someone's back yard, offering beer, water and ice, and there were still several miles to the real aid station. I declined the free beer, much to Ryan's chagrin when I told him the story, but I loved their energy and was glad to take some more ice for my hat.

Finally, finally, we reached mile 37, where I hit the port-a-potty once again, got more ice for my hat, chugged some coke and headed back off into the woods. Walking down the hill with one of the guys I had been leadfrogging with all morning, he said, I have to keep walking, I mean, I can just feel my core heating up like crazy. And indeed, it was just damn hot, but there was nothing to do but keep putting one foot in front of the other, albeit with a lot of walking involved at this point. We were both buoyed by the fact that the next aid station was mile 41, even if both of our watches were showing mileage shorter than the official race aid station distances.

The mile 41 aid station was also the spot people could pick up pacers, so there was a fair amount of activity. I saw Dave there waiting for his friend, and once again had a few cups of coke, put some ice in my hat and took off across the hot, open field. There was much walking. Soon after, the trail entered the woods and there were nice ribbons of singletrack twisting and turning through the countryside. On a good day, I'd run it all, but here, with the heat and miles beating us down, most of us were walking. I decided I would try to run more. My quads were starting to cramp up but I knew, the more I could run, the sooner I'd see Ryan and Sam at mile 47 and the sooner the finish would come. I did end up passing a fair amount of people in this stretch, despite moving at a fairly glacial shuffle.

The trail popped us out on a downhill road, and I wanted to move faster but a shuffle was all my legs had to offer. Still, it was enough to pass a few people here and there as we came out to a road junction with a view of Ascutney down and to the right. More roads and fields and some singletrack, and then a flat road along the river, with a woman outside of a house offering to spray runners down. Oh yes please! That cold water felt so good. And then, across the river, I could see cars in a field and heard Ryan yell out, and around the corner for the final aid station. Ryan had once again parked in the shade, and I sat and had some coke and cold water and a few grapes and had my ice bandana, now long melted, refilled for the final stretch.

Sam having fun in leaves near the aid station at mile 47

The aid station itself was up a steep hill from where the crew were parked, so I stopped there for one last cup of coke, and then began the ascent up through a big field. I could see people snaking on the grassing singletrack winding through the meadow. Up and up and up. In the sun, it was so hot, my quads hurt, the urge to run was nill. I took a few running steps here and there, but mostly just trudged upwards. Finally, we reached the top and the singletrack cut into the woods, winding us down and around and up through the forest. This last stretch seemed to go on forever. I passed several people here, and I knew we had to be getting close but it felt endless. Finally, a sign that said 1/2 mile to go and we popped out along the ski trails. The trail crisscrossed back and forth, and Dave and his friend flew by me. I was putting out as much as my legs were willing to offer but there wasn't much to give ;) and I had to let them go. I crept past a few other runners struggling down the steep slopes and finally, that glorious finish chute!

Sam at the finish line

Final stretch to the finish!

I finished in 10:35 and there was a smile on my face as I crossed that line, for sure! While I feel like on a perfect day I could beat my 50 mile PR from Stonecat (9:25) on this course, I also knew that going into this as a training race without a full taper that I was realistically shooting for more like 10:00. Given the temps, I feel like 10:35 is pretty solid and it put me right smack dab in the pack, for 73rd of 146 finishers (230 starters, so only 61% finish rate). The relentless hills combined with the heat made for a rough day out there and it certainly wasn't pretty at times out there, but I'm proud to have pushed through and gotten it done!

Overall, I thought this was a really well-done race. Yes, it was one of the bigger races I've done and with the bikers, it had a whole different feel, but it was a good event. I didn't have any problem with bikers out on the course - in fact, I think I only leapfrogged with about a half dozen of them out there! Perhaps with the dry course, the bikers could go faster, or perhaps because I started slowly and was more in the midpack, I missed the chaos of it all, but I had no issues. I thought the course was quite beautiful with lovely views through the fields and out over the hills, gorgeous streams and waterfalls along the singletrack in the woods, and a good mix of terrain that was never boring. The aid stations were well stocked and run, and there were port-a-potties at almost all aid stations, which I really appreciated! The volunteers were friendly, and the course was well marked, with almost all road crossings guarded by local policemen. With a large field, there was a good camaraderie out there, and I enjoyed leapfrogging back and forth with people and not being alone for long stretches of time, which I feel I often am in other long races. Plus, at the finish line, the Lazy Cow was giving out free ice cream cones to all racers at the end, which just made my day! :) 

As I type this out, I am exhausted, I have chafing all.the.places, I am sunburned on my face and neck, my quads feel like they've been beaten to a pulp, and part of me wonders why I do this to myself. But on the other hand, I'm proud of having been tenacious enough to start and to finish, and I really enjoyed this race in the way you can only enjoy a race that makes you suffer.

Many many thanks to Ryan and Sam for spending the day trekking through the VT countryside to bring me ice, cool me down, feed me snacks, support me and cheer me on! This couldn't and wouldn't have happened without both of their never-ending support and it meant so much to be able to have them both with me at this race! I am one lucky gal 💕💕

And now to rest up for a few days and get back to training!

10:35:16
73/146 overall
19/39 women