Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Hudson Highlander

The Hudson Valley Orienteering Club hosts this great event every few years, a metric marathon (26.2km) of orienteering through Harriman State Park. Harriman is a magical place for orienteering, this totally rugged wilderness with interesting terrain and great visibility and maps that date 30 years back to the 1993 World Orienteering Championships, to date the only WOC ever hosted by the USA. These maps are remarkably still accurate, because the mountain laurel grows slowly, and the blueberries don't change. Running on these maps is a challenge and a pleasure, and doing it for 26km takes some serious oomph. 

Ari and I drove down Saturday night, for a brief refresher on orienteering at Harriman, and to stay at the new AMC Harriman Center. It was pretty swanky. As for orienteering at Harriman, first you read the terrain, then you go "wheeeeee!" while dashing through it.


Breakfast at the AMC. Smoked salmon, no less.

Morning was clear and cold, but warmed up quickly.

This is one of my favorite sections of Harriman. Forest lawn, giant oak trees, and all those rocks! And some blueberry, of course. I really appreciated that the course sent us over there.

I still don't have the fitness at my disposal that I wanted. It's coming back, but I'm not trained for a 4.5-hour race right now. I suppose not many people are. I had done a double-header weekend two weeks prior at the Rochester Orienteering Club's National Event, and I was definitely disappointed with how I felt physically. My navigation wasn't great either, but that's a quicker fix. Time to moderate my expectations, and hopefully not injure my knee any more. I should mention that it's certainly not 100% healed. But it's the Highlander! I'm not missing the Highlander for some pesky kneecap swelling that isn't doing structural damage.

Anyway, setting a goal to just enjoy the day and the navigation and the camaraderie is not easy for me. I'm an inveterate racerhead, and I really like to win. Even if I can't win, my MO is to fight tooth and nail for every second. My attitude is generally that I may not be more talented than you, but I can suffer harder than you. I don't do mellow very well.

So here we are, start line of a race, and I'm determined not to race, but just to run. The first control was a real test of willpower, as it was just around a lake, maybe a mile of flat running. It's hard to watch people run away from you when you're wearing a bib. But I did it, and settled into a group with Joe, Stefan, and Keegan, loosely together as we navigated the first few controls. The first QOM leg was a short little bump, and I opened it up just enough to open a gap to the girls on the Lowlander who had caught up, but then pulled the effort back under wraps. Then we had another long leg back around the lake, and I was trailing behind Ari and Joe, unwilling to put out more effort but wondering if it was worth it just to have some company.

With the first map done, it was off to the second loop. I made contact with Joe, and we reeled in another group with some better navigating. I was enjoying myself immensely, just running within myself and letting the terrain dictate where I was going. No fighting the blueberry bushes today, I was looking for the microroutes and the deer trails. The deeper blueberry, I just walked. It made things so much easier! And slower. Walking is not fast.

As I neared the penultimate control on the second loop, Joe made a comment like "I think you're leading." What? How is that possible? But it was true, Violeta, our visiting friend on the Spanish National Team, had made some big mistakes, and was approaching the control from behind me. As I jogged toward the map exchange, we chatted for a bit, and I was sorely tempted to throw down, and challenge for the lead. I managed to stay true to my goals, knowing that a faster run would aggravate my knee, and that I didn't have the fitness to sustain more effort. That was hard. It felt like failure, like giving up before the race was over. It felt like a lie to who am I am what I do. At the same time, that was a success. The beginning of my recreational racing career, which I need to embrace if I intend to keep doing this sport my whole life. 
As I started the trail run, old injuries started to bother me. My achilles on one leg and my ankle on the other were starting to make themselves known, in a painful manner. The trail was undulating, sometimes rocky, sometimes clear and sometimes mostly just through the woods. It was beautiful, but I wasn't moving fast. I emerged from the trail run and into the final map, feeling a little down on myself. The "old" Alex would have crushed that leg, and instead, it crushed me. I rolled into the feed station and picked up the fourth map, and upon seeing that the first few controls would visit my favorite part of Hoegencamp Mountain, my spirits were lifted. This is going to be fun! 
I did much more walking on the fourth map. Pretty much anything with blueberries, anything rocky, anything uphill. Violeta put 15 minutes on me. I made a stupid error on control 22, in front of a family picknicking on a knoll. "Have you found the thing yet?" After hitting the water stop again, it felt like a long slog to get back to the finish, but I just kept moving. No emotion, no effort, just one foot in front of the other. I was done with admiring this beautiful day and these beautiful woods, I was just tired now and wanted to be done. I eventually jogged in to the finish, and less than a minute later Joe came in. Amazing how close a finish can be when you haven't seen someone for two hours! 

In the end, I was the second woman, and way back among the men. It was a very successful outing as a long run, and I achieved the goal of finishing no more broken than I'd started. Getting to spend that much time moving through Harriman terrain is a real treat, and I enjoyed sharing miles with Joe. I'm looking forward to coming back next year, fully healthy and fit enough to race. Huge thanks to HVO for the race!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Rediscovering the edge

It's been a while since I've really pushed a race effort. There were the weeks of marathon training, the weeks of not-training, a week or two of a chest cold, then the marathon itself, which, while a hard effort for sure, was not the sort of hard effort that makes you bleed from your eyeballs and scrabble in the dirt as the lactic acid demons drag you down. Those sorts of efforts need to be consumed in moderation, of course, but if you don't taste them from time to time, you lose the ability to savor that racing edge.

With my knee on the mend, it looks like I'll actually be able to do the races on my horizon. Three weekends of orienteering National Events, and a couple cross country races with my junior skiers. The skills that need refreshing right now are some basic navigation, and some re-familiarization with the pain cave.

The first stop was Pawtuckaway State Park, for UNO's famed Camping Weekend. I love this weekend, mostly for its infamous Wicked Hahd Night O. But, I actually decided to try and keep my knee on the healing track, as opposed to the more-broken track, and chose to just do one race at Pawtuckaway, instead of the usual three races. Bummer, being smart isn't nearly as much fun as making bad decisions!

My goal for the run was to stay focused on good technique the entire time. Exit direction, and make a plan. I wanted to try and do these things under a little bit of stress, because anybody can orienteer well at slow speed if you think about it enough. So, time to apply some oomph. Click below for the full map:

In general, things went well. I was forcing myself to look at my compass, and sometimes it told me to go directions that I didn't want to go, but if I listened to it, I would arrive in the right place. Useful little tool, that. I had a lot of hesitations along the way, some of them because I hadn't fully visualized my plan yet, and some of them just because I couldn't read the map while running. Never my strongest suit, it was definitely the first skill to go. Below is a zoomed-in version of some of the map, with a bit of annotation from the brain of Alex -

Prime example of how quickly orienteering skills go rusty. The green is where I'm running with some degree of oomph, yellow is sort of a slow confused jog, and red is... not fast. Also, beautiful map layout, with the label for control 12 overlapping the control 1 circle and its line... you just can't unsee this sort of shit.

Leaving the start, I had had a moment of panic - omg, I'm alone in the woods, and I don't know where I am! It didn't take more than 15-20 seconds to remember that it doesn't matter where I am, just where I'm going and how to get there, and then things were a little smoother. It was so much fun to run through the woods again, and I was pleased to find some bounce in my legs and that I hadn't lost all my ability to duck and weave and bash and jump. There's hope for next weekend if I can listen to my compass and make a plan for each leg. I was winning the course by about nine minutes when I left, but results aren't online yet, so I don't know how I fared in the end.

Next step was a little exploration of the pain cave. The CSU juniors were running an uphill test at Wachusett Mountain on Sunday, so it was time to join them. After a pretty solid warmup, my knee was complaining a little with all the bending. I decided that it was probably going to be fine; this wasn't pain, just some swelling interfering with normal movement, and uphills aren't fast enough to really hurt things. We had a good crowd there, with a number of hardcore parents joining their hardcore kids, and the weather was perfect. 

The time trial goes up the road, which is actually pretty flat except for two pitches. We started out, and like any uphill time trial, there isn't much strategy. I started near the back, and slowly moved up toward midpack by the time we got to the junction. After you turn the corner it's steep for a little while, and I did not feel efficient. Unused to this much suffering, my brain was asking perfectly reasonable questions, like "can we stop now?" and "what if we just slow down a little?" So, I went a little faster, because clearly if my brain can think reasonably, I'm allowing it too much oxygen. As we neared the top, I was definitely anaerobic, and it was sort of sad how little speed was garnered for so much effort. But, you have to start somewhere, and spending 19 minutes peering around the pain cave and dusting some of the cobwebs near the entrance isn't bad for a day's work. 
The "bonus trip up the hill" kids on top of Wachusett.

After another trip up, this time on trails and more of a threshold effort, I was good and done. My knee felt a little complain-y, but with no pain, I'm feeling positive about being able to compete successfully next weekend at Letchworth. I don't have a huge amount of fitness to back me up, but this weekend assured me that I can still muster a little speed if I need to.
My orienteering skills are about as unused as this pitchfork in our garden. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Quebec City Marathon

After injuring my knee, I didn't think I'd be running the marathon I'd signed up for. Even if my knee were recovered by race day, I had done exactly 14 miles of running over those 33 days, none of it pain-free, and was feeling the effects of being completely out of shape. I had been on a bit of an accelerated marathon plan, transitioning from my usual mountain running fun to road miles for 12 weeks, and to miss five of those weeks meant I would find no success in this race. To put it simply, I was completely unready to run a marathon.

I knew this. My marathon-running friends knew this. My coaching buddies knew this. And yet, Ed and I went to Quebec, because I wanted to give it a shot anyway.

My intention was mostly to have a nice tourist-y weekend in a city that I'd never visited in summer. We nailed that, and had a truly lovely weekend, filled with walking, eating, drinking, and enjoying each other's company. I'd rented an Airbnb in Lévis, the city across the river from Quebec, within walking distance of the ferry over to Quebec City, which costs less than an MBTA bus. It was perfect, and we had a really nice Friday night wandering the old city. Saturday was more of the same, with a vague goal of finding the race expo to pick up my number, and then finding a poutine place I'd read about on a blog where the blogger was searching for the best poutine in Quebec City. We were not disappointed! The other very important find of the weekend was a chocolate shop in Lévis that made the best chocolate-dipped ice cream I have ever eaten in my life. This shop featured prominently in my motivation during the race on Sunday.

View from the Lévis side of the river.

The big one was for Ed, the little one for me. Very enjoyable hibiscus blond ale! 

Funicular! Had to take it to save my legs, and also because a certain engineer needed to see how it worked from the inside.

Hotel Frontenac, lit up by night

This city has such great walkable streets

Elm trees!! I don't think I've ever seen a live elm before. 

View from across the river. Apparently many hundreds of cannonballs were shot from this position at various points of history.

Poutine, from the Snack Shack. 

One of several poor decisions to finish something this weekend.

That chocolate shell was like 1/4" thick, no joke. This was the hazelnut version.

After a quiet night in, it was time to start thinking about this long run I was doing on Sunday. I'd been sort of ignoring it, trying not to think about how unprepared I was. At some level, I knew it was a bad idea to start the race, but I also knew that I'd kick myself if I didn't try. My Physical Therapist hadn't thought that I'd be doing any structural damage if I ran, but advised to let pain be my guide. My race plan, such as it was, was to head out at the slowest pace that would still qualify me for Boston. I had 5k splits written on my arm, to keep me honest. If I started to drop below those splits, I was to drop from the race.

4:30 rolled around and I had no trouble getting down oatmeal and coffee. The lack of nerves almost scared me, but I realized that meant I had the right attitude - it was just going to be a waiting game, and see what my legs do. Ed dropped me off at the start, and it was downright chilly, but I knew I'd warm up. The race had people wearing rabbit ears, who were the pace bunnies, and after an easy warmup, I lined up a couple rows behind the 3:30 bunny. Off we went, and it felt similar to the ultras that I've done, just chilling with a bunch of other people, some chitchat, the pattering of feet. The 3:30 bunny was running closer to 7:40 than 8-minute pace, so I dropped back, monitoring my own pace and heartrate. My knee had no feels, happy to jog along.

The course started up on top of the plateau, and after an ever-so-slight rise, it cruised downhill for the next couple miles. This part was great, the game was all about not running too fast, and the cool weather and lack of any fatigue in my legs (see, there are *some* upsides to not doing any training, whatsoever, before your marathon!) made me feel pretty awesome. Ed was cheering for me at around 7mi, and seeing him gave me a warm fuzzy.

At that point, though, the course flattened out along the river. There was a bit of a headwind, and without the downhill to carry me along, I started to notice my lack of fitness. My heart rate started to climb, even though I was still holding the pace fine. I knew that if my heart rate got much above my anaerobic threshold, I would be cooked, but I also knew that slowing down wasn't an option in this race plan. Go at that pace until you can't hold it anymore. I did have a bit of a time buffer thanks to the easy early miles, but as the work started to accumulate, I knew I was in trouble. The halfway point was still on pace, but I was working way too hard.

Shortly after the halfway point, the course started to climb, gradually, back up the embankment to cross the route 173 bridge. This is where my fitness ran out. I could fake it for 14 miles, but that was where it ended. I did some walking up the hills, willing my heartrate back down to a sustainable level, but I knew that this was probably the end of my Boston shot. Coming across the bridge, the blister under my toe started to become unbearable, and my hips started to tighten up. Curse this lack of running training! At this point, according to my plan, I was supposed to drop out. I had just dropped a 28-min 5k, and there was no reason to believe that it would get any better. But my race brain managed to convince my legs that maybe they'd pick up the pace again coming off the bridge. You're right! Downhills are awesome!

So then I was down from the bridge, and both hip abductors cramped up, violently. Oof. There was some point, coming down from that bridge, where I had decided that I wanted to finish this thing. I knew at that point that I was done - I could not speed up, not without my legs cramping up. But, what is eight miles in the grand scheme of things? I should be able to tough this out. I want to finish this marathon. I'm an idiot. So, I kept moving, and the abductor cramps faded, to be replaced with adductor cramps, off and on. I had been walking through all the aid stations the whole race, to drink down the entirety of my cup of water or gatorade or whatever it was I was needing at that moment, but now I was starting to walk for longer periods through the aids. Again, should have just dropped. The next muscles to go was the right calf, exhausted from trying to protect my gimpy right ankle. My hamstrings were threatening, but since I wasn't really striding anymore, just sorta shuffling, those were holding out. I started to walk more. Soon forced myself into a rhythm - run 180 strides, walk 45. I did more pace counting in that last 10k than I've done in my entire orienteering career.

The last 10k were terrible. I mean, I should have expected this. There is no reason to believe that I should be able to run a marathon after five weeks of not training, and on a pretty minimal plan before that. It was just my head pushing me to the end. I just wanted to say I had done it. Why?!? Every time I tried to move faster, some muscle in my leg would protest by cramping violently, so even the running parts were barely moving. But I couldn't let myself stop. Eventually I crossed the line, and my pride was utterly shattered. I was nearly an hour slower than I had wanted or needed to be. I did not belong there remotely. Why do I have these ridiculous ideas about finishing races? Why can't I do the reasonable thing and drop out when it makes sense? I guess nothing hurt badly enough to actually do that.

Ed was waiting for me at the finish, and managed not to laugh too badly at my distress as I tried to put on sandals with every leg muscle cramping. We very slowly made our way back 2km to the ferry, and I think that slow waddle was very good for my recovery, considering the next activity would be to sit in a car for 7 hours. Ed is the real hero, for doing all the driving!

The chocolate dipping options at the chocolate ice cream shop.

But before the car ride home, chocolate-dipped ice cream! Boy was that ever tasty.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Respecting the process

My summer obsession has been preparing for the Quebec City marathon, at the end of August. It's been a fun challenge, learning to run by pace, putting down the miles and then more miles but not indiscriminate miles; eschewing the mountains that call me to run quickly over flat surfaces. The goal, of course, is Boston 2018.

I'm starting to understand why there are so many runners across the US who are so obsessed with marathons. The training is purposeful, and you see the results. For many people this is probably the first time they've set a goal and are clear about the process steps to reach it. That's a totally addictive feeling, and probably the reason I keep ski racing as rabidly as I do. You gotta respect the process, even when it sucks, and you'll see the results.

Three weeks ago, I tripped over a cobblestone on an easy jog to work. I slammed my kneecap into the ground, and have given myself either a small fracture or a bad bone bruise. Not much to do except rest it and try the occasional cross training, but most activities that bend my leg are out.

Unclear right now if I can or should race at Quebec. My PT thinks it's doable, but "it'll probably suck." Nothing I can do about this, because my knee will just take as much time as it needs to complete the healing process.

And you gotta respect the process, even when it sucks.

Spending time working on my weaknesses. And entertaining 3-year-olds. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Skyline trail race

I'd never gotten the chance to do the Skyline race in the Blue Hills, so when it didn't conflict with anything this year, I made sure to get in on the super-short registration window. With a cap of 100 runners, this race fills up. I had just gotten back from coaching ski camp, so the legs were hardly fresh, and with so much humidity in the air I knew it might be a bit of a slog. Luckily for me, the field was thin on the women's side, with my usual competition not making the first cut of speedy registration.

TARC is running this race these days, and they do a very grassroots feel. Minimal trail marking (including two "mystery" turns, that aren't marked, and if you miss them, you add about a half mile to your race - you're supposed to either be following someone who did the race last year, or memorize the course), and popsicle stick timing. Good times!

We took off toward the west side of Great Blue Hill, and it wasn't too crowded. I settled into a pace, and only a few men passed me up the first steep climb, which was nice. I was projectile sweating already, and because of the early hour, the sun was still low enough that as we picked our way across the rocks westward, the sun was in everyone's eyes, making it tough to see the trail. Should have worn a hat!

The skyline trail is a fun one, lots of rocks and constant up and down. I didn't have much in the tank today, but since I found myself running mostly alone, it was easy enough to settle into a comfortable rhythm and not worry about pushing too hard. I had had some ideas about how fast I wanted to run this course, but the combination of fatigue and humidity changed those ideas, and I tried to remember to enjoy the moment. Coming back from the second water stop, there were more guys around me, including at least one who had made a wrong turn somewhere. This was motivating, and I started to put out a bit more effort, wondering if maybe I could actually get under 1:20.

The final descent was nuts - down a relatively smooth trail on the ski trail, there's nothing to keep you from just running full tilt. Too fast for me, and I felt that for a day or two. Two men had passed me on the final climb, but the descent wasn't technical enough for me to make up any ground, and I ended the day in 18th, first woman. Followed by brunch, it was a nice way to wrap up a pretty heavy training week.

That feeling after a long hilly run of a job well done. Loving the TrailRocs.

The rest of the photos are from ski camp, which was really excellent. I don't think I've coached at the Winchendon Camp since 2011 or something, and this was just a great crew of kids and coaches to spend a week with.

Monadnock in the background, me in the foreground, and a bunch of CSUers in the middle!

Proof that we did indeed eat blueberries along the way.

This is a girl after my own heart. She finished it!

Thinking that we should stick to skiing. Tweedo's finest.

Preparations for the agility test. Extra support on the ankles, and wrapping the sharp V2 speed reducers with some tape. 

I'd spend a week coaching with this crew any day!

Doing some visualization on a perfect evening.

Mountaintop cartwheels!

Another stupid selfie!

So then I got home and discovered that my parents were in the Boston area. They wanted to go to Rockport, so off we went. Wonderful day for touristing!

No Inov-8s in sight.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Greylock trail race and June craziness

In the three weeks since Soapstone, life went a little crazy around here. I write that like it's all factors out of my control, but I should know better than that - everything is a choice, and I'm really good at making choices that emphasize the short-term endorphin rush at the expense of longer-term health.

I've been whining about how getting old is cramping my race style, and it's true. Not so much in the way it makes me slow, but rather in my ability to recover from hard efforts; what used to take one day of recovery is now taking two, or three, or all week. I could choose easier races, or do fewer races, or try less hard. Yeah, right. So, because my brain refuses to admit what my body knows, I followed Soapstone with a heavy week, pretending like I'm still 18 and can do two quality workouts back-to-back and a speed workout embedded in a lot of volume. In the midst of this, my Honda shit the bed, about 100mi north of home, on our way north to hang out with my parents for Memorial day. Have you ever tried to rent any sort of vehicle on zero notice on a long weekend holiday? I don't recommend it.
New Roclite305s to test!
Dang. The oil is supposed to stay in the engine.

Beautiful day for touristing along a mountain stream at the Flume

Despite being car-less, I had a lovely weekend with my family, involving a very relaxed hike around the Franconia loop that we love, and then a variety of shenanigans to get both Ed and myself and my poor dead car back to Boston. It all worked out. So, the next week was filled with a lot of visits to various car dealerships, because we decided a new car made the most sense. Yikes, big adulting decisions to make! Naturally, I picked up a cold that week, because not only was I trying to shop for a new car, work a full-time job, and organize an Orienteering USA coaching clinic for the weekend (and also a four-day orienteering event the following weekend), I thought that miss Wonder Woman could train through this. Not so much.

My mom, the original Wonder Woman.

Picnics done right meet two requirements: 1) there are goldfish; 2) they're eaten on top of a mountain.

So, anyway, the coaching clinic went well, I took enough rest days that eventually my lungs functioned again, we got all the exercises and races and lunches and pizzazz sorted for the Sprint Camp weekend, and I bought a car, all in the next week. Sprint Camp was a lot of fun, and the people who came really enjoyed themselves, which totally makes it worth the effort to host, but I was pretty shattered by the end of it. Enough that by the time I joined CSU on the track the following Tuesday, I only made it through a single interval before realizing this was a bad idea (see? sometimes I make smart decisions). But of course, because I'm an idiot, when my juniors lined up to do a June time trial of 3000m at the track on Thursday, I was like, yeah, I'm ready for this! I'll join you!

Nope, that wasn't a good idea either.

Setting up for Sprint Camp. 28 maps each might have been excessive.

So, by the time Saturday rolled around, and I took a bunch of kids (in my new car!!) out to western MA for a training weekend, the fact that I did a 2-hour rollerski, a game of ultimate frisbee, and a game of wooded capture the flag the day before the Greylock trail race didn't even make a difference - my oomph bucket has been near empty for three weeks.

Oh my goodness is that a lot of paragraphs about excuses. tl;dr: Life has been kinda nuts, and I'm tired.
So shiny. So flashy. Need some mud, asap!

Some sweet thunderheads on my bike commute. Thankfully they'd already passed through...

Greylock half marathon
So even with all those excuses, there was no reason to miss this race. It may not play to may strengths (as in: lots of uphill and non-technical downhill), but the trail race works perfectly as the second day of a mini-training camp for my skiers, that we call an adventure weekend. Just getting them out of Boston is good for the soul. Saturday we were rollerskiing, cliff jumping, strawberry-eating, playing games, doing yoga, and generally having fun, and then Sunday was race day, with most of the kids (and accompanying parents) doing the short race.
Those cliffs are a good height - not so high as to be scary, and plenty of water below.

What it's actually all about.

We stayed at Notchview overnight, and they hide their grooming equipment in a field of wildflowers.

This was my fourth trip around that loop, and I was hoping that it would be a good day, because I'm ever the optimist. But it was humid, so I knew times would be slow. My process goal was to pace myself well up the hill, run the downhills hard, and enjoy myself along the way. It was sort of a weak field this year, but I didn't let that fool me.

The big hill out of the start was good, actually. I started comfortably, sitting in maybe 7th for the women, jogging where I could, and my legs didn't feel *that* bad. When we started to hit the steeps around 2mi in, I started to pick people off, and by the time we got to the AT I had moved into 5th, with 4th place in sight, and passing men. I usually get passed by men on the climbs, so this was actually really good. I hit the top about three minutes slower than in past years, but feeling really good about myself.

Down the hill as fast as I could, and here's where I started to notice that I just wasn't recovering the way I should be. Usually the downhills, even at breakneck speed, bring my HR down into zone 3 or even 2, but I was still hovering at or above my LT. Not good, because I had 8 miles left. I kept trying to slow down, trying to recover, and I just couldn't. Bad omen. But, I had moved up into 2nd place on this descent, and was starting to think that it was just a tough day for everyone, and I would be ok with a slow time if I netted me a top 3.

But then Jones Nose kind of climbs for a while, and I just had nothing. Sarah passed me back, Michelle got me shortly thereafter, and I was in no-man's land, listening to my breath and wishing I could put out some power on the short uphills. I managed to stay happy, but I was suffering.

Caught back up to Michelle and Sarah down the nose to the aid station, but I knew that was to be short-lived, as we had that never-ending jeep trail climb left. I managed to keep running, but there was just no power to be had when I asked for it. No cramping, just no strength. Totally a survival game, and I was starting to question why I do this to myself. Finally the trail pitched downhill, and I kept repeating to myself that it's not over til it's over, but I knew that this downhill just wasn't technical enough for me to pull back Sarah or Michelle. Passing a group of my skiers with half a mile left really raised my spirits, they're such an enthusiastic bunch, and the cheering was helpful. That was a high point, and then getting to the finish and sitting in a stream, that was also a high point.

The low points... well, it sucks to run slowly, especially when you can't turn off your brain from being a competitive jerk. I didn't have the legs I wanted, and I spent five paragraphs explaining to myself why, but it doesn't take away the sting and the self-confidence-shake of "maybe I'm just not fit enough."

Arguably, I should have skipped Greylock, in favor of resting a bit for the Westfield Half Marathon this coming weekend. With the Quebec City marathon looming as a potential BQ, I should probably have prioritized the half a little more, but that doesn't have any mountains in it... so where's the fun there?

Looking forward to the next adventures!