Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Corn maze orienteering

The corn maze orienteering shenanigans began as a training event for the gang of five, which was what we called ourselves when Ali and I lived in the valley and got up to all sorts of trouble with Phil and Gail and Peter. Peter figured we may as well do some orienteering at Mike's Maze, and Mike was down with the idea, and it turns out racing around in a corn maze is not only amazingly fun, it's also really good technical orienteering training.  That established the tradition, and every year the event has grown; this year we had some 50 odd people lost in the maze attempting to find controls, and the event is as fun as ever!

There were three events (well, four if you count dinner at Bub's bbq) on tap: A "classic" distance, a sprint, and a night-o.  The classic had a predicted winning time of 11 minutes or so, sprint should be won in 5 minutes, and the night-o was a get-as-many-as-you-can affair with a 1-hr time limit.

My parents came to join in the fun, and while I think they may have been egregiously lost at times, they appeared to have fun while being lost, and at this event, that's what counts.  I did a proper warmup, remember that this fun event is actually a lot like a series of suicide sprints, since when you do know where you are, it pays to just run as fast as you can, and then come sliding to a stop to figure out which junction you want to turn down next.  I started out well, catching up about a minute to Brendan, but then proceeded to get utterly and completely lost, and was incapable of relocating.  All this corn looks exactly the same!!  By the time I'd figured that out, I was in 17th.  I clawed my way back up to 7th, but not without two more pretty terrible mistakes.  Oof!  This corn maze orienteering stuff is HARD!

After a short break, it was time for the sprint event.  I determined to give more respect to the maze this time, and took it slow - too slow.  This time Brendan started behind me, and had made up a minute by control 2, and I hadn't even made any mistakes!  I rallied a bit, but it wasn't enough, and I ended up 5th.  Thankfully at that point it's time for the barbecue dinner, so we all headed off to Bub's, because what is better than trying to run on a belly full of barbecue at night in a corn maze? Yeah I couldn't think of anything better than that, either =).

She may not know where she's going, but gosh darn is she going to have fun while going there.

Searching for runners in the maze. Binoculars didn't help.

Good thing there's a viewing platform.

Corn maze festivities over, the next day the Jospe family headed out for a walk along the 7 Sisters ridge.  That is one beautiful piece of land, and it turns out the ridge is no easier to hike than it is to race. Oof! But it was a lovely day to be walking outside, and I couldn't think of anything else I'd rather be doing.

Looking toward Mt. Tom across the river.

Coming up the first hill's rock scramble.

Midway there's a nice pile of rock that really doesn't look like much of a trail, but a trail it is. I raced on this? What was I thinking?!?

Ed decided to run to the summit house, and just wait for us there. I found him napping in the sun, totally sunburned.

Rocks and roots!

Ed leaving signs for me pointing which way to go at junctions.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Savoy Mt Trail Race

Ed had so much fun at People's forest race he wanted to do another one, and he figured he could handle 14 miles at Savoy, so to Savoy we went, at early-o-clock with Ari. Wheee trail racing! 

 The goal for today was to break 2:30, considering that last year I did 2:48 with a cold, so really couldn't breathe too well and had been trying to take it easy. The weather was good this year, 60-ish and cloudy with a low dew point. Kelsey and Kehr were both there, and I hoped to start with them and see what would happen, but Kehr started fast, as she does, and Kelsey chased, and I wasn't ready to go into the hurt box that early in a 14mi race, so let them go to race my own race. Redlining in the first 10 minutes and then being unable to run well due to lactic buildup for the remaining 115 minutes is both stupid and not-fun. Still worth racing even if you can't necessarily win. I fell into stride with Tony Bonanno early on, he's a self-proclaimed downhill runner, so we were roughly close in speed. Past the first aid ~6min faster than last year (that's what running the uphills instead of walking will do, eh?), through the two powerline cuts, and Ted Cowles caught up on a climb. I tried to keep up with him to the next aid station, gapping Tony slightly. Dropped my bottle on a rock there, and climbed up to Spruce Knob and the awesomesauce ridge. The views south along the Hoosac range are fantastic from Spruce Knob, and just like last year, I was filled with that feeling of accomplishment you get when you've arrived somewhere via your two feet (and especially when those feet are clad in X-Talons).  Wahooo!

Apparently, I actually stopped to whoop, and Ben Kimball of NortheastRacePhoto was right there to capture the moment.  I don't remember stopping, but I do remember giggling my way down the rest of that ridge, just absolutely loving it and living in the moment.  I am so thankful that I can run the way I do in the places I go to!  I caught two guys along the ridge, then passed Ted as we started the downhill to the turn-around, passing one other kid along the way. Woo!

That downhill is uber fun, winding around, super runnable, not that steep, not that rocky, just super fun. Unfortunately that means no benefit over anyone else, since they can all run it fast too, but that's ok. I saw Kelsey and Ari and Kehr coming back up and estimated a ~6-7min deficit, and while I wasn't super happy being that far back, that was the situation, and if I could keep the pressure on there was a chance one of them might fade or bonk. I ran every step of the return uphill and the ridge, and Ted didn't catch up, which meant I was running well, since I hadn't gapped him by that much on the downhill.

I high-fived Ed near the top of the climb, which gave me some energy, but I started to get tired near the end of the ridge, and sort of picked my way down to the aid station more slowly than I'd like.  Anyway, I tried to keep pushing the downhills from there, and I was actually glad that they were runnable and grassy and squishy. The bit between the two powerline cuts was still muddy (isn't it funny how you sort of hope that the crappy parts of the course won't be so crappy when you get there again?), and that was tough, but when I hit the final aid station it was only a mile left, phew. I'd been running alone since 8 miles, and that made it tough to stay motivated and pushing. In the end I was well under 2:30, but Kelsey won in 2:13, so I lost equal amounts out and back; partly the fact that I was alone for the entire return trip worked against me, but partly I'm just not fast enough, especially at the end of a heavy volume week. Whatever. I had oodles of fun, and gave it what I had on the day. Whee!  (Results)

Some of the final bits of trail - totally runnable double track.

As Ari drove us there, we had this sky and this light. My favorite combination. I suppose it explains why at times the woods were pretty dark, but the storm never broke.

I had a chance for a quick cooldown and swim/wash in the lake before Ed came through, still running, though sort of grimacing too...

He assumed this position for a while.  I can relate.

"That kicked my ass. When can we do this again?"

Monday, August 11, 2014

Running up hills!

Just small hills, but I've been enjoying letting my feet take me up and down hills with the occasional rock thrown in, lately.  Two weekends ago, Ed and I headed down to Connecticut for the People's Forest trail race, which I did last year and very much enjoyed.  It's a short race, in the trail racing world, just 7 miles with a modest 350m of elevation gain, and Ed figured it would be a good one to try out; I was psyched he wanted to come.  Last year I won, but so much is dependent on who shows up, and this year someone showed up who is faster.  I think I may have been closing the gap on the downhill, but then I took a wrong turn right near the end, stupidly, and lost about 3-4 minutes, as well as 4 places to guys I had worked darn hard to pass.  That was a bummer, but you gotta pay attention to the course in trail races, and when I revisited the location of the tricky junction in my cooldown, it was really quite obvious that I should have gone the other way.  What in the world tempted me to go left? Darnit!  At least that was just a 3-4min error; Ed and a group of maybe 6 other people made a wrong turn that gave them an extra 100m of climb and a solid 15 minutes of extra running! oops.  I believe that turn caused problems last year, too, so it's a bummer the race director didn't sign it slightly better this year.  Oh well, no harm done, and it was a lovely day for a run over rocks and hills with friendly people.  

Here's a photo from a run (over hills) with Ed down in the Blue Hills.  We're so lucky to have a park like that pretty much right in Boston!

Back to the Blue Hills for a long run with some juniors and some orienteers and some washed up old coaches, this time on a humid day. Hey Alex, do you want to go up the ski hill too? One guess as to what I said...

So last weekend I had been instructed not to sign up for any races, because it was family reunion time for Ed's family in Vermont.  That's a great place to hang out in the summer, and it's been so dry that the bugs aren't even a problem.  We had lots of fun, including a hike with some of the family that quickly turned into a 10 mile run over 700m of climb on the AT, no complaints here!  We are so lucky to have the Green Mountains and a 2000-mile trail right out the door there.

And then driving home, I *may* have gotten side tracked and stopped to run up Mt. Monadnock, having never climbed that one before.  It's a lovely little peak, with great views and lots of rock scrambling. So much fun! I was feeling so grateful for being me as I scrambled up that hill, that I can just pull the car over and do stuff like this, spontaneous joyous bounding up and down beautiful trails.  Love it.

We're racing Savoy Mountain trail race this weekend; I did that one last year and it certainly has its share of hills and rocks! Can't wait!

The cleaned-up selfie

The sweaty selfie. I like this one better.

Descent to Griffith Lake, lovely and runnable.

Looking east from the ascent back to Mad Tom Notch.  What a day for running!

Ed and his dad rebuilding an ancient jeep in the cabin in Vermont. Someday, it may even resemble a jeep again.