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!

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