June 29, 2010

June Finale

One of my plans  this summer is to spice up my sports menu with  cycling, hiking, paddling, swimming, and ball tossing with racquets.  I will always love to trail run and run and run and run

Yes, it's time for this woodland gnome—trail pixie—to branch out from under her toadstool and unearth fresh moss.

This morning I was feeling logy and knew that exercise cures that lethargy. By 11:30 am, in the heat of the mid-day sun,  I laced up the road shoes (phhshaw!), filled my water bottle with ice, water and a Nuun tablet. 

The plan was to run for an hour,  out three miles or 30 minutes, whichever came first, and then head back and see what was left (in the legs and the water bottle). 

The out and back is my least preferred course-configuration but this particular route was nearly down hill for the first three and then—you got it—up hill for the return. I loved that it was mostly hard-packed dirt surrounded by conservation woods, beautiful and secluded homes and farms little brooks and a few wooden bridges. 

I found Francestown, NH, alright!

June 28, 2010

End-of-June Monadnock Region Adventures

“My future starts when I wake up every morning…
every day I find something creative to do with my life…” 
Miles Davis

Being able to run out the door directly into conservation land is Mother Nature’s gift to trail runners. The Greenfield Trails Association calls for further exploration and a double-water-bottle run.  Many mountain bikers keep the switch-backin' and rockin'-terrain fern-free. The mix of single and double track, small bridges over streams, and the mecca of moss add to its natural beauty. 
I spied five of these newts on course:

I charted out a challenging lollipop route with a fair amount of up and down along with a bit of road to link it all up. At about 4 miles, with the options of adding a lot more mileage, the footing forgives and forgets. Rocks, roots, newts, mushrooms, and gnome droppings (just kidding about the rocks), speckle the path. While out there,  I meddle and imagine a TUG (The Ultra Gang) and company small Fat Ass 6-hour ... or sumpin'.

The woods run was not without possible bite. By 7:30 on a wet morning the buzzing insects were awake and hungry. But their appetite was nothing to the Deep Woods Off, which I applied before diving in. Some of the insects in this region have zip codes!

Sunday afternoon, after the rain seemingly passed us by, Dave and I headed out on our bikes for an inaugural ride. I'm new to the clipless system and was a bit nervous to embark. Putting me at ease, Dave adjusted and tightened my cleats, super-charged me with confidence, and clipless was old hat by the end of of the driveway. 

Dave's a great rider who's logged  100's of miles this season (including a century a few weeks ago)! This was my first ride of the summer and I hoped I could keep up and apply my running fitness to the road bike. Not having run long in a few days, I was raring to go! The loop had its fair amount of climbs and flats. What goes up must come down and I enjoy seeing just how fast I can accelerate down  a hill. My maximum speed of 34.9 mph was not fast enough to break the 40 speed limit. Maybe next time!  We hung together with a delightful 15 mph average over about 22-23 miles. Apparently this tiggerrr was restless.

In  addition to riding with Dave, the best part (besides not crashing, not getting hit by an 18-wheeler, and not forgetting to clip out at intersections) was that the rain came back while we were riding. Just us out there on the roads....two giddy FOOLS in the RAIN. 

This was sideways rain—the torrential big droplet rain that forces cars to pull over. In the moments before it unleashed its fury, I commented how much enjoy training in inclement weather. Is That So? Then the sky opened up, dumped bottomless buckets, and continued to laugh upon us until we pulled into his driveway. And, yes, then the sun came out. We were destined for a wet ride. I LOVED IT. What a blast.

June 23, 2010

50th Mount Washington Road Race

Time to Pay Up,
2009 Mountain Goats!

This MWRR was my third dance atop the 6,288-foot rock pile. It was also my slowest and I my hottest to date. With each tango, the weather seems to holler against my strengths, which is cold-weather running. This year’s near-90-degree temperature was no exception. I was looking forward to some 40-plus-mph ass-whipping wind but it never came. Still, there was a great breeze at the finish!
 Emily Trespas and Susanne Torabi 
at the Summit!
(photo by Dave) 
Harkening back to the colder inclement weather (wind, hail storm and rain) of 2004, the 50th MWRR was a heat test of proper hydration, breathing, pacing, patience and fortitude. Several folks—elite to the back of the packers—turned around after tossing cookies, suffering from asthma or just not having it this year. For many that must have been a tough choice. 

Given the forecast, this race day was for spectators.  After many rainy races with Dave, I was happy that he and Abbas (Susanne’s spouse) could enjoy exceptional summit conditions. A videography shout out goes to Dave for capturing many finishing videos. The link to these is at the bottom of this post. 
Women’s winner and 
new women's course record holder: 
23-year-old Ethiopian, Shewarge Amare.
Note: About 30 minutes before the start the announcer asked if anyone had a light pair of size 8 racing flats, shorts and a tank top for an elite women’s runner. Due to a mix up she had no running gear! Amare broke the women’s course record in borrowed shoes!
Remembering what Ed Mulvey said to me last year as he passed me walking at full throttle, “Emily, don’t run a step,” I embraced that plan for 2010. Also, I purposefully left my watch in the car so I could “enjoy” the day without time constraint.

It was too hot for a time goal. I think not wearing a watch cost me  a few minutes but saved me stress. I crunched the math and variables and a time goal (PR &/or attempting to better last year’s time) was not reasonable. I figured, if I walked nearly all of the 7.6 miles, I would come in around 2:20, which was about what “went up.” 

A fast power hiker when I want/need to be, I felt good about my time given I ran less than 1/2 mile of the course.  I finished in 2:18:35. At half way the clock read 1:08:27. In 2009, my half time was 1:01:53 and in 2004, it sparked a 59:53.  

Slower = happier.

 Thom Parker, me (in zebra skirt)
and another hill climber.
(photo by Krissyk) 

Power hiking with Thom Parker made the miles go by quickly. We talked a lot and I was thankful for his company as it helped me relax into the ascent. At about five miles, or where the dirt road section began, we separated. I attempted to keep up with him but he gapped me real good by about 2 minutes. Awesome! Thanks for your company & conversation, Thom! 
I also passed Fred Ross at about 5 miles and felt a bit sore about it as he’s been my mountain muse all along. He usually kicks my booty. We chatted at the starting line and he communicated that he was pretty certain today was not his day. Yet, every MW is "his day." He holds the longest streak of Mount Washington starts and finishes of any participant. 
I am honored to know him.
In 2008, Fred and Donna because engaged at this race! They are both wonderfully warm people and excellent mountain runners.

At 10 a.m. the gun blasted (and then a cannon a bit later?). 
As Kz and I entered the first incline of the Auto Road, he joked, “it’s about time we paid off this debt.” We chuckled and commented that his father was “on fire.” 
Joe ran ahead and into the hill like a recently freed mountain goat. Our run together was short lived as Kev's long legs progressed at twice the distance per step as mine.   The red polka-dotted shirt disappeared ahead into the masses. At the finish Kz told me he ran every single step of the way! His dad, Joe finished not far behind me! His training repeats of 22 flights of stairs prepared him for the climb.

Last year Susanne and I complete the Mountain Circuit together! She is an amazing marathoner and tackled her first MW like a pro. 
 Susanne Torabi
(photo by Krissyk)

Above all, my favorite aspect of the 2010 MW weekend was the social connections shared. We—Dave and me, Susanne and Abbas, Kev and Joe, Bill and Mayra—got a chance to dine, chat, hang out and explore the area. It’s wonderful to meet the spouses of my running friends and enjoy some non-running time with some of the Gang. I am also grateful to and for Dave!

Here's fellow Gang member, Bill Howard who had the common sense to just try his luck in the lottery versus complete the Mountain Circuit.
 Bill Howard in his first MW
(photo by Krissyk)
Krissyk captured some awesome photos mid-race. The still photos in this post are by Krissy and all video was captured by Dave. Thank you!

The Link to more video finishes at the 2010 Mount Washington Road Race is here: You Tube.

June 22, 2010

Webbed Ward Run

This morning my first run since Mount Washington. With all the incline and asphalt, I wanted woods...Ward Reservation

I misted my body with bug dope, tightened my trainers, and tucked into the woods along a trail that skirted a body of water now abandoned by crafty beavers.  Boardwalks, boulders and roots marked this trail; all was well.

Being the first to meander along these parts, I encountered strands of spider webs across the trail. Not just one web but about 50. Is this what the lead runners face?  This web clearing is a thankless, sticky and annoying task. Thank you to all the lead runners who disassemble these natural nets.

The trail cleared a bit and I settled into my Zen running place while paying homage to a resting little gray brown mole on a rock.

Then I ran full frontal face into the eye of a sticky spider wed. I bounced back a bit, not just from shock but from the thickness and gooey net’s tension. This was not some cute two or three strand wanna-be web. This was arachnid anarchy. This spider was hunting for the big one! 

I freaked out and rapidly swiped my hands over my arms and hat, which were covered in white sticky goo and empty spun sacks. I removed my shirt and swatted my back. 

If the web was that big and effective then I did NOT want to meet its maker: some fat bodied spider with dripping fangs ready to suck me into the shell of what was once the Trail Pixie.


While I know spiders have a ton of excellent and beneficial qualities I just can’t cuddle up—except maybe to Charlotte.

June 21, 2010

Race Crumbs to the Mount Washington Road Race

* H x 4 = Heat Humidity & Hellacious Hills.  

Most of my late-spring running revolved around preparing for the 50th Mount Washington Road Race on June 19th. This commenced with a trail ultra of 29-miles on Mother’s Day, followed a week later with the 24k Soapstone Mountain Race. Wadda Scorchah!

Capping off May, I enjoyed the road & trail mix of Mount Wachusett, as well as reuniting with many of the 2009 Mountain Goats who were hoofing at the starting line!  
"What do you mean you aren't doing 
the 2010 Mountain Circuit?!"

The first weekend in June, I drove to Wilton, NH,  for my 3rd (slowest and happiest and hottest) Pack Monadnock 10 miler. Despite the hellish heat, the run was high heaven! At the summit, someone very special to me awaited! Overall, I felt great that day and power-walked the hills, dressed comfortably and hydrated wisely. 
(Photo by Chris C’s son)
Pack is mostly a paved course—with some excellent dirt road sections—so thankfully my feet held up. The only area that slightly ached was my right hip along at the stretch of cambered highway before Miller State Park

In general, I’m slowing down my pace and enjoying myself a heck of a lot more. Even 30 seconds to a minute per mile makes a huge difference in how I feel finishing and the day following the race. 

6 In The Stix....."A Real Trail Race"

The week before MWRR, D and I headed to Newport, NH to run 6 In The Stix, which is part of the Western NH Trail Running Series. I needed the motivation of a group to get in a last hilly effort. Of course, like at The Pack, it rained. D is the most cheerful umbrella and rain jacket toting fan I have. Thank you!

When I queried about the trails in the 6 In The Stix, a runner responded, “it’s a real trail race with rocks and roots!” How enticing! How so my bailiwick!

NO...Not this Six from Styx!

If you are a good up- and down hill trail runner, the course is fast! My favorite aspect was the variety of footing. Starting and finishing on a track, the race quickly disappeared into the woods along double- and single-wide trails adorned with rocks and roots. Asphalt was minimal and bridges abounded. A sandier sections were rewarded with gentle pine needle passages. The final cherry? A stair climb to the top of the ski jump! 
Now, That's Variety.