May 31, 2010

Carrots at Wachusett Mountain Race

Driving to the Wachusett Mountain Trail & Road Race Saturday morning felt right. Very right. It was time. Time to join. Time to share. Time to integrate. Time to start some serious uphill momentum for Mount Washington ... in three weeks. 

What a perfect day, cooler temperatures, over cast skies and excellent company. 

At the start, I lined up in the back of the pack with Fred Ross. He and I are suitably matched in overall pace for Mount Washington & I thought it best to stick near him at Wachusett. 

Fred finishes minutes ahead of me on The Hill so I took some notes: walk, run, hike, run, drink, focus... His good nature, even keel and patience with my puppy-dog enthusiasm are much appreciated.

Above Photo of The Legendary Fred Ross 
by Scott Mason

Many folks on the trails—both ahead and behind —motivate me: Angel with her persistence, Ken and his camera, the Mystic  Runners and TNT folks, Abby & Tim, Diane & Brian, TiVo, the Dales, Todd & Laurie, Todd B, Bob W, JJ, Jim P & Chrissy, Scott "camera man" Mason—what a generous spirits! I missed seeing my friends with whom I ran Wachusett last year—Julie, KZ, and Susanne...

Scott Mason's Wachusett 2010 photos: 
Mile 4.5

 ---------  -------------  ----------  ----------
 Come 'n Get it!
 Ohakune, Central Plateau, North Island, New Zealand
Photo by David Wall

Many athletes have "carrots." At Wachusett '10, mine was Fred; he indirectly (& until now, perhaps "unknowingly") paces me and focuses my efforts.  Some sneakered wunning wabbit is probably chasing my carrot top, too. 

Oh, the carrot is not grouchy nor unhealthy competition.  It's someone and/or something that encourages another to liven up the day, to set the bar higher, to start fires under hooves (or slow the burn, depending), to perk the salad when the  lettuce wilts and croutons are out of reach. Carrots assist everyone to  strive to be, to perform, to observe AND to become, better for their  involvement alone as well as part of the whole.
The carrot is 
crunchy,  fresh and colorful.
It  goads,  "Follow me!"  

Saturday, Fred's lead pulled me up the hills and kept me working on moving forward when I wanted to touch the moss, check out the lake view, and retie my sneakers a couple hundred more times. He was within view for a fair portion and when I thought I lost him a on the uphill road and the steepest trail section, he'd reappear around a corner. Mr. Ross is an excellent uphill runner and power-hiker.

Photo by DP,  Lean Leader, The Cheering Squad.
(Unknown shirtless man is not my carrot.) 
Of course, Fred's also an awesome downhill runner, which is my strength, too. I was psyched he was having such an awesome day out there! With about a mile to go I saw him speeding along the wide dirt road.  I gradually shortened the gap but wasn't sure I had enough luck in my rabbit feet to catch him.

As momentum would have it, I rolled on by a few folks—including Fred—in the final descent. I hope Fred understands that he encourages me to run smarter and happier. 

I can be the carrot or rabbit or some critter in between, behind or above... Above all this chase stuff is all in good trail woodsy uphill back country fun!
Bunny Bait.
Photo by Scott Mason

Seeing & hearing Lean Leader D out on the mountain for me also made a huge difference in my day—& life. When I finished, I mentioned to him that I ran about two minutes slower than last year, to which he sagely replied, "Did you run 'about two minutes' happier?" 

Why yes, I rana lot— happier!

Thank you for reminding me how sweet the carrot and rabbit are and that both travel along joyful paths together.

May 27, 2010

"Reset My Head Set"

I love that expression. 
This past year I've done just that with clear and present results. Without going into detail I will say my relationship with running and race events is linked to pressing "reset." It continually evolves, matures and offers learning opportunities.

For starters, I am grateful to be able to run. This winter I pinched a nerve in my back. My chiropractor loosened me up with adjustments, vibrating jiggle beds, and "The Rollers." I feel awesome and believe my  health and well-being have improved dramatically. 

As for my friends on the running D.L., my heart and "gallon vat" of BenGay muscle rub goes out to Breakheart Dan. He's mending an injury and being more patient then ever before.  It stinks old freezer-burned fish-sticks not to be able to run.  It just makes you want it more. 

Put up your Duke's, Injury!
  & Take that, Tarter Sauce.

Running is my sanctuary, as well as, one of my social scenes. I try to keep them in balance. I decided to not run this all....instead it was time to recharge and reset. In a nutshell, there are only so many slices in the energy pie. 

Socially, I've rekindled my love of the solo long run. YES,  I enjoy company—and miss my core running peeps— but also cherish my long solo runs as they give me time to think on things, talk to myself and to moss clusters, Yoda,  and into the wind.  

What else? It feels excellent to NOT be double-hitched to the Mountain Running Circuit. Last year I ran the entire series (for my Mountain Goat Hooves, giddy-up) and the 2009 Mount Washington Road Race. That was seven "up-hilly + more incline"  races in eight weeks. Or was it six races in seven weeks? Good, I've already forgotten. I have no regrets in my commitment to it last year and had a blast seeing everyone every weekend.  I'll see some of them soon I'm certain. 

Indeed, back-to-back races & weekends grows old. Mother's Day Ultra then Soapstone Mountain Race 24k, was a test of endurance on a few fronts. Reset. 

I wanted to see what these legs could do a week after running 29 trail miles. Well, they got to about eight miles into the woods and decided their mitochondria weren't feeling so mighty mouse. I pulled through, dug deep and with a smile, and ran the remaining 6-7 miles on happiness, hope and love. I'm convinced that running the mountain circuit last year gave me some hill strength as I passed several people on the "killer hill" just moving at an unforced uphill pace. (Above running photo by Scott Mason)

The morning of the Northfield Mountain Race, I loved being able stay on the island, gaze out the window and listen to the birds. The freedom to play things out, moment-by-moment, run-by-run is a gift I rediscover daily. Thank you. 

Time to reset.

May 11, 2010

May Day May Day

In May I ramped up my mileageover March and April's totals.
And I felt it. 

On Mom's Day, I opted to get in a long run close to home and headed to Bradley Palmer for GAC's 6 Hour Mother's Day Run/Walk. When I arrived at the race with limited sleep from back-to-back exceptional days, I was primed to float. 

I'm not sure from where I got the energy but I thought the longest I would run would be a solid 18 miles. Well, leave it to fuzzy math in the end, I kept on going, and going and going. Pre-race, I told Kevin S to "Stop me if I want to run more than 18 miles." 

When I rolled through 18 miles he was running with his wife on some laps and I missed them. So, I kept rolling along and at mile 21, Breakheart Dan said, "Hey Em, why don't you go for the marathon distance?"
I did that and a little more...
For extra credit.
29 miles.

Dan captured this photo of me feelin' frisky in my leopard top. 

The Mother's Day course is significant in that I gain versus  drain personal power with each 3-mile loop.  This year I  reflected on the positive changes and gifts in my life and ran happily, thought a lot about people  who are special to me. From where my energy and power emerges I do not know but I surmise it's from being inspired, from spring, from being present as I sail along. There's no competition out there not even between me and the trail, roots, ascents/descents. 

At left, Aliza Lapierre ran 45 miles for the new overall course record.
Ron Farkash ran 41 miles (he ran 44 miles a few years back). .It's amazing what these front runners accomplish in 6 hours.  

I loved running with and seeing some of my trail peeps and possee!   
You know who you are.
Also a warm trail welcome to my grade-school play mate & running friend, Kristen S, who brought some of her MVS pals to the woods to play on Mother's Day.

Thanks GAC!
My car trunk —aid station

May 02, 2010

Spandees: Crazy Spandex Shorts

Ooh Baby, Baby, It's a Wild World
In search of some colorful compression shorts to re-ignite my spring running and biking season, I gleefully stumbled upon Spandees.

The Burlington, Mass., company was started by Amanda Green, mother of two athletic kids in need of more funKY exercise clothing!

Along with many prints from which to choose, she also has three lengths available:
  • Volleyball (2.5 inch inseam) for $19.95
  • Compression shorts (6' inseam) for $19.95
  • Capri length (26" from the waistband) for $26.95.
I can't wait to run wild in my Spandees.