Leadville Training, Week 7 Recap, Mount Washington, Baby

Here’s how the week played out.

Monday started out great – recovery day. 

Tuesday was a nice, short 4 mile run.

Wednesday’s run was fantastic with a 15 mile scheduled run and I finished 14 miles on a mixture of trails and roads. The bugs in the woods are terrible. If I wasn’t for wearing headphones with ear buds they would’ve been in my ears. The small, buzzy’ing black bugs really liked to bite the back of my arms. Grrrrrr

Thursday was a little longer than scheduled but again, a nice post-14-mile run that was about 7 miles. Since it was the 4th of July I packed in so many fun things that it felt like a super, big training day: swimming in Lake Winnipesaukee with Kendra, Adam and Toby-dog, and a fun swim in the Merrimack River with Kyle and Pants. Such a fun, fun day. 

Friday was another recovery day preparing for what was supposed to be a big mileage weekend. I’m trying to not be disappointed as I write about the weekend because I think part of the ultra running life is learning to go with the changes that happen in a long training plan and just not dwelling on it; keep moving forward to the next big training day. 

Saturday was hot and humid at 6am. I had to run 30 miles but after 4 miles in I had to decide to go left for the big loop that would bring me back for water/electrolytes at mile 15, or go right and 8 miles would bring me back for water/electrolytes or stopping – I went right. I was dripping from sweating and just felt off for the entire run.

At mile 8 I called it quits for running outside and went to the Y to run in A/C. The real feel was 84 and I was very low energy, and a bit dizzy. I ran 2.5 miles on the treadmill and did about 200 stairs and wanted to quit. 

I sat on the stretching floor for about 5 minutes trying to figure out what to do. I wanted to go home. I debated. I could do some weights which I seemed to have energy for or more treadmill or just sit here and decide. For the record, I don’t usually ponder for so long what to do, I usually act. I usually just go home. But this time, I decided to make use of the time and do weights. This is huge for me. I just couldn’t run. 

Then I proceeded to have a good rest of the day with Winnie, Kyle and Pants; and get over myself.

Sunday was a hike with Bob and Mark to Mount Washington. Originally the plan was to run 20 miles. At the beginning of the week it was unknown if I could even be able to go to Mount Washington since I didn’t have anyone to let out Winnie during the day. I couldn’t take her because it’s one of the hardest hikes in the White Mountains. On Saturday Jeff texted me and said his plans changed and he could let Winnie out. Whoo Hooo!!! It was on. 

When I arrived at Pinkham Notch Bob mentioned something about two loops. Wait, WHAT? Their plan, which wasn’t communicated, was learning mental fortitude for Leadville – they would hike to the top, turn around and do it one more time. I had no idea. But I should’ve known because these guys are ultra runners, they think like me however, this one caught me by surprise. I thought it was one run/hike ascent of Mount Washington. I said I would try. 

The hike was amazing and since I hadn’t hiked it since 1992, it was new to me. Although, I did remember all the rocks on the Tuckerman Ravine Trail and how hard it was. However, being in the best, freaking shape of my life made the hike so doable and so enjoyable. We had to take Lions Head trail to the top of Mount Washington because the top part of Tuckerman’s was closed due to snow. Being on top of the rock pile is one of the most amazing things in the world.

Being on top of the world was amazing and I want to do it again – I want to do the Presidential Loop before heading to Leadville. The weather was perfect, not a cloud in the sky. We talked about all our training and they told me about Leadville Training Camp, and what they learned. It’s so great hanging out with people who are going through what you are and have the same joys and concerns about preparing for 100 miles at 10,000 feet. It was a great day. 

I opted out of the second loop. But those two – total rocks stars with 9,000 feet of climbing in 8 hours and 16 miles. I drove home and hung out with Winnie-dog.

An end to a somewhat good training week and remembering where I started.

Heading into a big mileage weekend

It’s Saturday and I just got back from a warm-up hike with Winnie.

4 miles around Marjory Swope

And hitting Jerry Summit twice for some added vert.

Now it’s time to head out for 25 miles. I’ve been fighting a head cold that is now heading into my lungs but it’s very minor. However, yesterday running up hills was hard!

I’m heading for the hills west of Concord and not sure what the mileage of the first loop will be. The plan is to come back to my house to refuel and then head out again to finish the miles. It’s wet and muddy out there but I’m up for the challenge.

Tomorrow is a hike up north for a 4,000 footer and then a 13 mile recovery run. This is it. This is what I have to do to get strong and be ready for 100 miles.

Getting Ready For BIG Miles

Tomorrow is the TARC 50K in Weston, Ma. I’m excited for this race. It’s not really a race but a training milestone. I pretty much just need to finish and beat the cut-off times.

Then on Sunday, run 10 miles.

I’m ready.

Marjory Swope Trails today.

Today, Friday is a recovery day so I hiked with Winnie this morning and took her on a few long walks during the day. This morning it was sooooo humid.

91% Humidity – geez.

I’m going to bed early and then heading south of the border, the New Hampshire border.

Race report to follow shortly.

Mary Oliver

Rest in Peace Mary Oliver. You inspired me and made your readers slow down and be in each moment. From poems about the joys of dogs off leash to the sadness of every day life, you taught me to live in each moment.

North Hancock (attempt), Winter Hiking in NH

Yesterday, Saturday November 24, was such a big day for me. I headed to the mountains for the first time in 4 weeks to figure out this winter hiking thing. I’ve hiked in the winter and snowshoed but not a big mountain and definitely not a 8 mile 4,000 footer.

I’ve read all the books about mountain rescues and being safe in winter. I had all the gear I needed and watched the weather fanatically. All signs pointed to a good day to hike Hancock North.

In reality I didn’t set out to hike to the top. I wanted to scope it out; at least make it to the trail junction of North and South to see what the trail was like and to test out my snowshoeing skills and try out my spikes. I’d never used spikes before.

The day’s temperature started out in the 20s and not a cloud in sight. The parking lot for the Hancocks was almost full (a good sign that people were on the trail, I wouldn’t be alone). I saw that the trail from the parking lot to the trail was packed so I decided to leave the snowshoes in the car. I could alway turn back if I needed them.

The start of the hike on Hancock Notch trail.

I didn’t need them.

The trail was fantastic; hard packed and I seemed to be following someone wearing snowshoes. I knew this trail pretty well since I’ve already hiked it twice to South Hancock in September . In winter it was glorious. The river crossings were easy.

The first trail junction. Let’s keep going to the loop trail.

The snow was falling off the trees and crashing to the ground; sometimes loud sometimes softly. The snow falling to the side of me and behind me was creepy at first because it sounded like someone was following me in the trees, but after a while I got used to it.

Water crossings were pretty easy. I remembered this one from hiking in the fall.

After the last main water crossing, shortly before the first junction I met a man coming down from the peaks and chatted with him a bit. I noticed on his watch that he was at 3 hours 11 minutes and he did the loop – that guy was fit. He mentioned my hat, my Leadville Race Across the Sky beanie, and asked if I did it. I said it was my dream. He had raced it and was signed up for the coming race. Two years I said. Two years. I will do it.

It was the first time I said it out loud.

I met a solo woman hiker coming down from South Hancock and another solo man passed us going up as we chatted. With all the people out there and the trail being well marked, I thought I could make the summit. So at the trail junction Winnie and I headed for North Hancock.

We decided to head to North Hancock. Conditions were great – let’s give it a try.

The trail got pretty steep about ten minutes from the junction and someone had slid down it, wrecking the trail. I encountered a second hiker actually sliding down. I didn’t have the heart to say she was wrecking the trail; she knew it but did it anyway.

The spikes helped me from falling backwards and I had to take a few breaks to catch my breath. Then Winnie came running back to me and jumped on me and licked my face, which she never does while hiking. We stopped for a break: water and treats. Then started again.

I’m sweating bullets, the views are starting to get good and she runs back again, jumps up and licks my face – it’s time to turn around. Something happened to her or it was just too much – I don’t know but I wasn’t going to force it.

We turned around, 0.2 miles to the top.

North Hancock Attempt on November 24, 2018

The hike down was tough. I fell a lot and slid a lot and stepped off trail a lot. It was a bit nerve wracking when I stepped off trail and my leg disappeared in the snow. We made it back to the junction and I realized how warm it got. My spikes were clumping and I was still sweating going down.

It was a tough hike that I know I have to do again shortly. But you know what – I love winter hiking. It’s so quiet and peaceful. There are less people. It was wonderful to follow a trail in winter and know exactly where to go. The snow made my pace slower so I took in the scenery more than summer/fall hiking. I was so much more calmer winter hiking; I wasn’t in such a rush.

I can’t wait to hike when I need my snowshoes. I’m excited about this new hiking option!

Since this is the fourth time through Lincoln to do the last hikes of the 4,000 footers I have started a bit of a routine. I stop at Half Baked for a latte and then the One Love Brewery for a take home beer. Today, I changed it up a big and got the latte but instead of the beer I stopped at the Mountain Wanderer.

The 4000-Footers of the White Mountains
The 4000-Footers of the White Mountains by Steven Smith and Mike Dickerman. Second Edition

I’ve been reading Steve Smith’s blog and have checked out his book, The 4000-Footers of the White Mountains from the library. It was time to buy the book and marked it up so I remember the hikes. Plus, each mountain has a section about hiking it in winter.

I asked the man behind the counter if he was the author and he was! We talked for a while about winter hiking, Owl’s Head, Hancock and Winnie wanting to turn around. Steve motivated me to try the bushwhack trail to Owl’s Head since it will have a nice packed trail soon. He told me the story about Brutus the dog who has a bushwhack trail named for him. It was a wonderful, informative conversation; I was psyched to buy his book directly from his store. He was a wealth of knowledge and so kind.

It was a good day!

Training for my 2-year plan starts today.
I will finish the 4,000 footers.
I will run/hike 1,000 miles.
I will run a 50 miler in 2019 and I will run a 100 miler in 2020.