It has been an eventful eight months in my life, both running and personal, since my last update. For a variety of reasons, the blog fell to the back burner in the second half of 2016. However I hope to be more purposeful and frequent with blog updates in 2017.
Here goes a brief recap of each month since the last update! Races are in bold.
June: I ran the Covered Bridges Half Marathon with my then-girlfriend a week after the Pineland 50k (link to that recap). Surprisingly not as sore as I thought! The following week, I ran the Ascutney Hill Climb, a minute slower than 2015. A week later, I ran the Mt. Washington Road Race, again slower than last year despite my increased fitness. Mostly due to dehydration, there were a lot of walk breaks, and I spent a good portion of the race being unable to swallow. I finished with my fastest final mile at the Rockpile however, so there was a small positive!
July: Two weeks after Mt. Washington was the Loon Mountain Race, which was again the USA Mountain Championship. Again a very rough race for me. I woke up nearly 2-hours late, and sprinted to the car with a thankfully-pre-packed bag. No coffee, no food. I arrived at the race just in time to change and go to the start line. I got beat by a 12-year old girl! (In my defense, she did beat all but six women and most of the men too; pretty impressive!) Six days later, I successfully defended my win at the Bear Brook Trail Half Marathon, this time for an even BIGGER sack of coffee. I finished a few minutes faster than 2015, but with a lower effort, so I could tell my fitness was going in the right direction. Plus, 5lbs of coffee beans!
August: I spent late July and August building mileage and long runs in advance of the Wineglass Marathon on October 2nd. I also started teaching at a new school, Putney Central School in Putney, VT. I started off the year commuting an hour each way, which took a lot out of me. However I really felt at home at this school, almost immediately. I’m teaching PK-5 General Music, and 6-8 Band, Chorus, Rock Band and Music Composition. It’s a small school, very progressive and community-minded, and we have a 160-acre school forest out back! I truly cannot imagine a school fitting my philosophies on education, politics and life any more closely than this one. (Obviously we don’t mention politics in front of the kids!)
September: On September 10th, I did a fun adventure with acidotic RACING at the North Country Endurance Challenge. I ran the first run leg, and the kayak leg following it, and did a whole lot of driving, crewing and videotaping. You can check out the video below (and check out the action on my new gimbal!) I’m strongly considering doing the short course as a solo this year! The DAY after the race, and driving, I had the best training run of my life. 24 miles at 6:46 pace, half roads, half trail. I ran without my HR monitor for the first time in a long time, and I think my effort was pegged a bit too high. However it was a great confidence-booster before the marathon.
October: On October 2nd, I drove to Corning, NY for the Wineglass Marathon. Here is a very brief recap of the hellish adventure that race was.
I left late on Friday, camped around halfway on Friday night. I got a text from my then-girlfriend that they had car trouble and would be arriving late. The hotel was in her name. I drove to Ithaca and explored Treman State Park (where they hold the Cayuga Trails 50mi.) Pics below. A lot of up and down hiking, and wishing I had my camera. I arrived at the hotel to find out they were still an hour away. So I went for my shake-out run (a mistake) and then waited around in the cold rain for 45 minutes (another mistake).
The next morning, we got very mixed messages from race officials about where we could be dropped off (literally just dropped off), and were told by police there was no way we’d be allowed to walk to the start line to start the race. Contrary to what my ex told everyone, I did NOT almost get arrested. I might have been a tad heated. Thankfully, a nice EMT gave us a lift around to the other side of the start line, about 15 minutes before the gun. Phew. Sort of. I ran at race effort (6:20ish) for around 8 miles total, but could feel starting at mile 4 it wasn’t going to be my day. My hips were the main problem, but I had a nagging pain in my achilles too. The plan from there switched to “hold on and jog it in for a BQ, that’s all you really need.” Needless to say by mile 15, even that was proving difficult. Things were going so downhill by mile 17 I bagged it at the water stop, and took a bus to the finish line. Then I waited around in the cold, unable to find my then-girlfriend’s mother who had the warm clothes, nor able to remember her bib number to get her drop bag, which at least had a windbreaker in it. My hips recovered, but my achilles got much, much worse, so much that I could barely walk. After the race, I drove straight to work for Monday morning. I parked halfway in a Walmart parking lot to take a nap. When I woke up, my car wouldn’t start. Great. I went into Walmart to buy a battery jump-starter because of course I left mine at home. Finally started the car, and decided to drive the rest of the way to the town I work in, and park somewhere to sleep. I got to Bennington, VT, and promptly got pulled over for “having a light out” at 2:30am on a Monday morning. “Sir, have you been drinking? Sir, your eyes look funny, and your breath smells.” “That’s because I’m tired and you smell sweaty running clothes, want a closer whiff?” Finally got to work around 4am and slept in my car until 7:15 when I went in and showered and got ready to teach my only two difficult classes!
October/November/December: The three months after the big DNF mostly consisted of rest with some run attempts, a short period of feeling sorry for myself, buying a new full-suspension mountain bike for my birthday since I couldn’t run, moving to a new apartment (only a 30min commute!), a lot of biking, depression from the election results, a very-much inevitable breakup (in hindsight, we both should have known six months prior), a few attempts at returning to running, some epic skiing days, and then finally… a COMEBACK!
January: I was finally running more consistently until I fell and injured my back and was out for the last week of January. Since then, I’ve been consistently building back up and feeling pretty good!
Other News: I am an Ambassador for Altra Running this year! I was super excited to get this news, as they’ve been the single reliable shoe brand in my arsenal since 2014, receiving probably 80% of my total mileage. The Altra Superior was a phenomenal choice for my first 50k at Pineland, and I even use it for road running once the tread wears down. However, the new Ego cushioning in the Escalante and King MT is a GAME. CHANGER. Whether or not you’ve tried and loved, tried and hated, or not tried Altra before, go try the Escalante. It’s so similar, so yet so very different from anything else Altra has released.
Things I’ve learned:
- Racing too frequently is a problem, but not racing enough is ALSO a problem (at least for me).
- If the race requires elaborate logistics, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t go well.
- Drink water. A lot of water. Especially when you’re stressed and extra especially when you’re accompanied by someone else who is stressed.
- Relationships are like a ultramarathon, not a sprint. Sometimes you DNF, and that’s okay! Hopefully you’ll one day find the ultra with no finish line.
- Run more miles, have more smiles.
- Don’t change shoes too soon before a race.
- Set an alarm somewhere other than your phone before a race.
- Respect any signs of doubt when you’re in a relationship and remember them. While breakups are difficult, they are often for the best, though you may not see that until afterward.
- Possessions will not make you happy in this life. Adventures and people will. That said, you CAN CHOOSE to be happy. Choose it!
I am really excited for some great adventures in 2017. I’m confident that this will be my best and most fulfilling year yet.
Here are some random photos and video from the last eight months, including the ones I promised above.