Saturday, August 31, 2013

Greylock, and a corn maze

Last weekend, the Jospe pack gathered on top of Mt. Greylock for a quick weekend vacation.  It was pretty awesome, involving some hiking, some biking, and a trip to Sunderland for the corn maze o'.  A nice change of pace in a beautiful setting.  I enjoyed our hike, but my feet were twitching to run those trails.  Next year.  We had an awesome weekend of low humidity and beautiful views, and it was fun to look across the valley and see the Hoosac ridge, where I'd raced the weekend before. 

Looking north toward Vermont, from the AT.

By the powerline cut, which is apparently a ski trail.  It's steep!

This is the visitor center on top of the mountain, that also has some rooms in it you can rent out.  Totally acceptable accommodation!
So then the corn maze - my corn maze orienteering skills really need some improvement.  Ed beat me three for three, and I made many, many mistakes.  At least the rest of the family appeared to be having fun!

 I blame my poor result in the night-o on an excessive amount of barbecue consume directly beforehand.  Buffets are evil!  but delicious...

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Lynn Woods Relay

A few weeks back, Jamie sent an email probing to see if there were any interest in putting together some teams for the Lynn Woods relay.  This is a pretty big race, with teams of four each running 2.5mi, to make a 10mi relay.  Naturally, I signed up, and the plan was to have a coaches team fighting against an athlete's team.  Unfortunately, the athletes never quite got their act together, and didn't register in time.  Then, Rob strained his calf, and Kathy twisted her ankle, and suddenly the coaches team was down to just Jamie and me.  Luckily, we convinced Lisa that her injury was healed enough to run 2.5mi, and Lewis wasn't a hard sell either, which was good, since he was the fastest runner on the team.  Back to four people! phew.

>br/> It was a hot night, but not too muggy, and I managed to miss the start of the race, because I'd missed my train from Boston.  Thankfully, I was running last leg.  Jamie led off, holding his own among 109 teams in 52nd place, and tagged off to Lisa.  Despite a nagging injury, Lisa ran very speedily, pulling us up to 37th, and beating Jamie's time handily.  Now it was Lewis' time, and being young and speedy, Lewis pulled out a 15:39, good enough for 19th overall (that's out of 436), and that seriously moved us up in the ranks, to 24th.  My turn, and I had a pile of people to chase down.  You never knew what category they were racing in, nor whether they were on 3rd or 4th leg (though you could guess that part), so basically the name of the game was to just pass as many people as possible, while trying not to get passed.

Of course, I immediately got passed, by a speedy-looking girl, and of course, I tried to stay with her.  This is a hilly 2.5mi course, and even though it's mostly doubletrack, the footing is loose and that means dust. The chest cold wasn't 100% gone, and combined with the dust, this made breathing very difficult.  Bummer! I read somewhere once that racing is easier when you can breathe.  Anyway, by the turn-around place, shortly after 1mi, I had to let speedy-girl go, and tried not to hemorrhage too much more time.  The course gets fun for a tiny bit of singletrack, as it climbs up almost to the stone tower, but on that stretch, I got passed by another speedy girl, this one going even faster than the last.  I wish I could run like that.  There was even less hope of hanging on to her, and I was very happy to finally head into the downhill.  It's not much of a downhill, since you haven't done that much of an uphill, but these things are relative, and even slight downhill feels better than no downhill when your lungs aren't in the mood to deliver any oxygen to the blood.

Luckily, I passed more people than passed me, and picked up an extra two spots for our team, placing us 22nd overall, and 2nd in the coed category.  I think my split was around 19th for the girls, but they don't have it broken out by gender. I do know I was 2:40 back of the first lady in... ouch.  Anyway, this'll be a fun one to run without a cold next year!


I made Jamie take some photos of me, even though it was too dark for that sort of thing.  woooo downhills!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Lately, I haven't been too focused in my training or my racing.  With the World Championships done and gone, there's nothing too important on my schedule until October, with the Canadian Orienteering Championships and the US 2-Day Championships, so I can basically just goof around for a little bit and find my equilibrium again.  This was the attitude I brought to People's Forest race two weeks ago, and that was pretty fun, so I figured I may as well sign up for another trail race.  I like rocks, roots, and hills!  The next one on the calendar was Savoy Mountain, a 15.7mi race, and I figured, why the heck not?

Well, one good reason why not is that I came down with a head cold last week.  Darn!  You're not supposed to race when you're sick, but I typically do things you're not supposed to do anyway, and I'd already convinced Ken that he should come play, so, I figured I'd just take it easy and enjoy the day.  Worked last time!

A very relaxed start put me somewhere mid-pack, but I naturally had my radar on for other ladies.  There were two girls nearby who were chit-chatting with each other, and that's always a bit worrisome, because as everyone knows, if you're talking and having fun, you'll run faster.  Actually, hearing them giggle really made me miss having Jess around, though it's not like I'd be able to run with her and her speedylegs.  Anyway, the trail looped around from the North Pond to the South Pond, and then started to climb up and over a relatively substantial hill, that I ran, but maybe shouldn't have.  I found myself jogging along with a guy from Hadley, and it was fun to have company, but when the trail tilted downhill I let gravity do its thing and fell into the next group ahead of me, some more friendly guys who I ran and hiked with for the next few miles up to the top of the Hoosic ridge.

The view from Spruce Knob was pretty awesome.  I stopped to take it in, filling with that feeling of accomplishment you get when you climb something under your own power and you get a view of the world to reward you.  The vistas of North Adams and Mt. Greylock were impressive, as was the descending ridge to the south of more wooded peaks and steep drops.  I love using my feet to travel, there is simply no better way to feel so self sufficient. I race to make my competitive side happy, but I run on trails to satisfy my soul.  Anyway, after taking in the view, it was time to get on with the job of making those feet move quickly, and I danced down the ridge, loving the northern hardwood forest and its craggy rocks.  Wooohoooo!

At the turn-around, it was time to see where I stood relative to the other ladies in the race, and fun to watch the fast guys zipping back up the hill, then my turn back up to the ridge, this time pushing the pace a bit, because those two chatty ladies weren't that far behind me.  I love to enjoy the day, but I'm too much of a competitor to allow other people to beat me when I am capable of holding them off!  This led to negative splits for the out-and-back, and also made me acutely aware of my lack of lung capacity with this cold.  Luckily, from the ridge it was mostly downhill, and it wasn't a problem to finish still feeling strong and smooth.  I had good company with a guy from Connecticut for the last third of the race, and reeled in three or four other guys, to finish 20th (of 66), and first woman (results).  The prize for all this work was a tub of blueberries, exactly what I wanted at that point, and after a dip in the pond, a hotdog and some fresh-grilled corn on the cob, I was one happy runner.

This race is definitely on my list for next year.  Hopefully a healthy me can take a chunk of time out of that finish, a motivational thought for sure.  I'm not sure what's next on the list; I seem to be running pretty well, but I've also been frequenting these less-well-attended events, so it may be worth hitting up something bigger once this cold clears up, just to see where I stand.  Whatever I do next, though, will definitely will need to have rocks, steep descents, and views!

Speaking of finding the joy when you run, Zan's a great example of that.  It's super fun to have her in town, albeit for a short while, to help remember that we do these silly sports we do because we love them.
More goofy running friends - Kathy and I led a sweet hike over the Tripyramids (with Zan!) for the junior skiers last weekend.  Thank god I've finally found someone who makes as silly faces as I do when the camera points their direction... We took about 3.5h for the 11mi loop, never pushing the pace, but keeping up an excellent level of chatter the whole time.  And of course we found a frigid river for ice baths after, which is the only proper way to end a hike in the Whites.

I love it when the humidity drops, and you can SEEE!

Hiking up sheer slabs of rock I felt like a moving advertisement for Inov-8 - I mean, I guess I AM a moving advertisement for them, but I had fantastically awesome grip on the rocks, especially compared to everyone else's trail- and not-trail shoes.  These were the RocLite275s; a Gore-Tex version that I think will be even more awesome in the winter.  For summer hiking, they're a little warm, but I suppose I'm also wearing them with wool socks, so that may be of my own doing.  The RocLite275s have a bit more heel to them than most minimalist shoes - 9mm of drop - and I find that comfortable for long days with lots of ups.  For the trail race, I ran in some TrailRoc236s, and they were pretty fantastic, as well as hot pink.  Reviews are coming!

The whole premise of doing the Savoy race was because I was in southern VT with Ed, so I figured it was a short drive.  And also, allowed for carpooling with Ken (and I was able to help drive him back when he decided to fall down and do bad things to his shoulder, all because he couldn't get to the fig newtons fast enough).  Anyway, my desk for Saturday's work was pretty sweet.

Ed making a pouty face because I was supposed to be taking photos of the food, not of him. Hmph!

Monday, August 12, 2013

People's Forest trail race

I'm a week behind, here, but this race was pretty awesome, so deserves a write-up. I convinced Zan and Brendan to come play at a trail race with me, even though it was kind of far away, in western Connecticut. I was intrigued when the race flyer claimed that the easiest part of the race was the first and last 400m. They could have done away with that boring part, in my opinion =)

I've started ski training again since Finland, and that means that my everything is really really sore right now. Given the soreness of my everything, I figured I'd better play it by ear, and stay within my limits and just enjoy the day during the race. Off we go, and after those first 400m the trail goes up, but at a runnable grade. This is annoying, because a girl in a black tank top (Lauren Ross) immediately ran away from me. I debated keeping up with her, and decided that would impede my ability to enjoy the day, so I kept the effort under wraps and an eye on my HRM, trudging fairly slowly, trying to become one with the burning in my quads. Eventually the trail tilted downward, and Lauren with a herd of men came into view ahead, and I was very relieved - my technical downhilling skills will keep me within striking distance.

I was much less worried as I slowly made my way up the following climbs, and then there was a decent descent where I actually ended up making contact with Lauren and her group, around 2mi. It took work to convince myself to just hang out behind them for a bit, recovering; when you make a move, you want it to be decisive, so it's best to rest a bit first. Eventually I couldn't deal with wasting all that glorious rocky trail, and took the lead. I had about a minute buffer at the top of the hill with the nice views. I know this, because I got the fluttery heart feeling up there, so I had to sit down. Thankfully, the Valsalva maneuver actually worked, and within two minutes, I was back to normal and running again. No idea why two weeks ago it was a 15min wait, and today only 2min. Oh well, that was a dodged bullet.

I had to chase back to Lauren then, and somewhere in there, we hit some pavement, where she really took off. Damn. Thankfully, somewhere thereafter was a muddy rock pile to cross, so I got ahead again. She caught up when I stopped to drink at 4mi, and I consciously stayed behind her for the next mile or so, keeping things below threshold and assessing the body. The trail was awesome, and I was having a wonderful time out there, so the next downward tilt I made a move, and caught two dudes ahead of me, and thankfully the earth kept pointing downwards basically all the way to the finish; I wasn't moving too well on the uphills. I was very happy to take the win today, because I thought the race was over when I got the fluttery heart feeling. It was a gorgeous day for running, if a bit humid, and I thought the trail was fantastic! After, we stuck around for a bit, cooling off/washing up in the river, eating potluck food, winning bags of candy (woo!), and making new friends. A good day! I'll be back next year if the schedule works out!


Zan and I both picked some great shoes.

We also found George, Lynn, and Phil, all independently deciding to come to the race!  A very pleasant surprise =)

Sportin' my new CSU jersey!

Lynn takes a dive into the freezing cold Farmington River after the race.  Brave lady!

Rolling through Littleton the day before.  Rollerskiing can be fun!

After rollerskiing, helping to move Lori, Presto, and SGB out of their apartment and into mobile storage units to head to California, with Tom and Kristi.  I'll be missing Presto; it's easier to stay in touch with his humans.