Wow, the last few weeks have been quite representative of how this year has been playing out. The highs are really high and the lows are really low! It must be the year of Kristina’s roller coaster ride, maybe I should sell tickets! At this point I am riding the wave and not fighting back anymore. It is what it is and I will take whatever life throws at me and smile. No need to be grumpy, it is way more enjoyable to just laugh at it all! So, while I sit here icing my swollen achilles I will share the last few weeks of my life!
After Escarpment I took my intermediate runners on a presidential traverse. It would be longer than a couple of them have ever gone and it would be a challenge different from anything they have experienced on foot. We got an early start with Tony, Amy and Emily. The forecast was a bit interesting but looked promising. We had a plan, 7 hours to Washington or we bail.
We stood on top of Madison, our first peak of the day and to see the looks on everyones face when they got on the ridge made me smile. Tony was stronger than the girls and we had planned on some other people coming who would be going at his pace but instead he stuck with us and had fun!
As the day progressed we hit our time goal for Washington but we were not on Washington. I began to struggle with how I would break the news to the girls that we would be bailing and not finishing the day. We bagged all the summits to Washington and sat inside eating food and chatting. It had been almost 9 hours since we started and although the weather was holding that would mean several hours in the dark.
I tried to talk them out of going forward, I looked at each of the girls with a deep look of sadness in their eyes. They told me they could do it, that they were starting to feel better after they ate. I know summit fever, I know what they were going through. I was one person and had two to keep safe. I looked at Tony, took his emergency gear and told him to call Ryan (who was headed up that afternoon) and to have him run in to meet us on the trail with food, water and extra clothes.
Tony ran off toward the hut with a smile, he has mountain experience and I was comfortable with him going and I felt good knowing that even if it took us until midnight to get out of there Ryan would be making his way up the trail to help us.
We hiked down to the hut and I told the girls we would try for the summits but if they couldn’t hold their pace we were bypassing the rest. Well, to my surprise and delight they moved quickly! They were smiling and my worries began to disappear! We stood on top of Monroe and I think all three of us were proud! At that moment I realized they just needed to eat more to stay strong! Having some food on Washington made it all better!
As we tagged more summits we soon realized that we were not going to need headlamps! By the time we got onto Pierce I was starting to tear up, Proud isn’t even close to describing what I was feeling for these two girls! We looked back at how far we came and hopped on Crawford path and stood at 302 in 13.5 hours, in it’s usual pressie traverse fashion-no fan fare, no finish line, nobody knowing what you just did. It’s a good feeling, one that only you know and one that the three of us shared together.
Ryan never needed to get us, Tony went and got my car and we parted ways, happy and proud! Ryan and I got a quick dinner and then went to the campground to find Amy and Brian who we would be running with the next day.
We got up early and Amy and I chose to do a Pemi Loop with Jack puppy. It started out with us chatting and laughing all the way up to Bond Cliff, when I looked at my watch I was in shock! We were on the FKT pace! I told Amy and we decided there must be some sort of magic when we run together because we had a run like that at Bear Mountain this spring!
So, we stopped getting too excited and ran up to Bond. Jack puppy enjoyed a summit cookie and we were off! The running was great even though the trails were soaking wet and slick. It was so much fun being up on the ridge! Jack puppy was having a blast too! By the time we got to Galehead hut we were almost 15 minutes ahead of FKT pace! Now we were excited!
We tried to move quickly but the trails were soaked. We ran by Garfield and then ran back up to tag the summit and take a picture because at that point my watch was dying. The battery was not going to last the whole time! By the time we got on Lafayette we were toast. It was hot out and we were losing steam. We had lost our 15 minute buffer and were starting to slow up. The hordes of people on Franconia ridge made it even tougher to move through.
Jack puppy was starting to slow down as well. We ran out of water and as we descended into the heat we started to start feeling the effects of becoming dehydrated. Jack puppy tried to drink up from the shallow streams but he wasn’t getting enough either. We stayed focused and stayed smiling. By the time we got to Lincoln Woods we were really craving a cold soda. Our stomachs had turned and we had to stop to let Jack puppy have a swim in the stream. We hammered it out to the bridge and finished in 8:16! A personal best for me and a first for Amy! We were thrilled, especially because we both had a full day of mountain miles in our legs from the day before. (She did a run with her husband the day before and I did the pressie traverse)
Then there was day 3! Kelsey joined Amy and I on an 18 mile run over the Twins and Hale. I woke up so sore, my calves screaming and completely exhausted. I tried to come up with every excuse to bail on the run but the girls would not let me so I went. It was not too bad on the flat stuff but on the hills Amy was kicking my arse! Kelsey was getting in more miles so she did a different trail and met up with us on the Twins.
On top of the first mountain I started to come around and was blown away because I was able to keep up with the girls! We had fun and eventually our husbands came down the trail from their loop and passed us. We all met up at Zealand hut before the boys took off and the girls stayed back for some social running. We got back to the car and I felt so strong! It was absolutely incredible for me because I have never done 3 long and hard days like that before! I was pretty darn proud and I had so much fun running in the mountains with girls!!!!
The weekend was great and of course the weekdays were filled with the daily madness of work! I did have a day off and took Ryans daughters to Hampton Beach which was so much fun! Those little girls have completely stolen my heart!
The next weekend was taper week so Ryan and I did an 18 mile run in the whites. It was absolutely beautiful and the views were my new favorite view in the Whites. Jack puppy came with us and had fun but the wet trails were not kind to his little paws. He got a couple of small blisters toward the end so we walked it out with him and gave him a pig ear and a few days to let his little paws recover.
The next day we picked up Ryans girls and took them to hike Mount Major with our friends. Mindy has two kids the same ages and it was so cute to watch them running down the trail together!!! They had so much fun that we went over Mindys house for dinner and the kids had an absolute blast!
We officially made it one year as a married couple! We will celebrate our anniversary maybe next week! Between work, race directing and preparing to run races it was not the best timing to celebrate!
This weekend Ryan raced in the Eastern States 100 and our friend Tony crewed him. I would be racing at the Hampshire 100k so I stayed here in NH while the boys drove to Pennsylvania.
I ran with Keri on Friday and we took it easy. About a mile in my achilles started to hurt, by the end of the run I was in some pretty bad pain. I was a bit worried about what had happened. We got some sushi and then I went home and could not sleep because my achilles was throbbing all night long.
I hoped it would heal and drove to Sarahs house to hang out before getting ready to camp for the race. It seemed to be getting better and I was feeling optimistic. Ryan was also in his race all day and I was following the tracking and Tony would text me when he saw him. Ryan had a rough patch around mile 40 but then pulled through.
By the time I went to bed Ryan was at mile 78 and in 2nd place, 20 minutes behind the leader. When I ever woke up and saw that he caught the leader at mile 97 and then took the win by 20 minutes it was awesome!!! I was so happy for him and we had a few minutes to chat on the phone before my race.
It was such a great way to start my race, knowing that Ryan finally had his race, that one race that changes your running. The one that shocks you and leaves you feeling proud and confused all at the same time. There is nothing better than that run that played out better than you could have ever dreamed! I have had my moments and this one was Ryans. It made me so happy!
I wore my La Sportiva Helios, Choucas floral headband, Julbo Groovy sunglasses, UltrAspire surge and carried First Endurance Gel. Our race started out at a nice pace and the course was muddier than last year. I had fun chatting with the other runners and we were treated to some pretty spectacular views in the morning! Sunlit mountains peeking through a clearing in the trees while running through a field of lovely wildflowers. It was so incredible! We stopped to take in that view and then carried on down the trail.
I was feeling amazing! My body felt strong, my legs felt great and no GI issues! Most of all I was just plain happy! We rolled along having fun intertwining with the bikes. Well, then it happened, my achilles started to burn. It then progressed to a dull ache and after a while a sharp pain. The guy I was running with had a similar thing happen to him and it had put him out of commission for a year because he did not stop. We stopped and took my shoe off. I had a grape sized lump on the back of my ankle and it was not fitting in my shoe. It was red. I decided that I needed to stop. I had also been getting knee pain from adjusting my gait to compensate for the achilles and things were just not good.
I found the fiddler at around mile 28 and called it a day. The sound of that fiddle brought back sweet memories of running that race with Ryan last year and sadness as I watched the second woman pass through 12 minutes after I dropped. I had led the entire race, I felt strong and happy but I was not willing to risk making this injury any worse than it was. The people in the house hooked me up with ice and a beer. I did not cry, I did not feel ashamed, I felt at peace with my decision. This year has been crazy, if the trend continues my next run will be amazing!
I had a freezing cold ride in the back of a pickup truck to get back to the finish area and then had some food, chatted with Tom and then headed home. There weren’t many people at the finish yet and the finishers were hours out so I figured it made more sense to drive home and rest my leg.
I feel a variety of emotions right now. I feel like this entire year has been a struggle, it feels like 2011 all over again. Of course the evil negative creepies try to force their way into my head. I cry sometimes, I wonder why I can’t just have 2013 all over again. But then I take a deep breath and remind myself that there will be rough times but there will also be amazing times! It hasn’t just been my running that has been challenging this year, it has been my health, my emotional well being and personal challenges that have come my way. So, I practice what I believe in and that is being positive. Even in tough times it feels so much better to smile.
I feel like as an athlete I have let down my sponsors, coach and friends. I feel like as a person I have become a better and even more compassionate than ever. I think that I lost touch with who I really was last year and got too wrapped up in trying to prove to the world that I can be fast, I let the pressure get to me. I have nothing to prove and although this year has been tough, it has taught me to be nothing other than myself. I don’t care if I am fast, I just want to be able to play in the mountains and do the best that I can each day. I am a mountain climber and being able to run well allows me to see more of them in a shorter period of time. I am a wife, a dental hygienist, a step mom, a friend, a daughter, an athlete and a person whose heart is full of dreams, love and adventure! What makes me happy is hearing that one of my wacky adventures inspired somebody to try something new, to live the life they dream of or to help them find happiness!
So, a huge thank you to my sponsors La Sportiva, Choucas Hats, UltrAspire, Flora Health, JULBO USA, First Endurance and Hypoxico. Thank you to my coach for good advice today on how far to push that achilles and to the guy who helped me out on the trail. Thank you to Ryan and Jack puppy for some great mountain adventure together! Thank you to my friends for hanging out with me, since I backed of on Facebook I am enjoying see you in person. I think that Facebook has taken more from my life than it has given me! I am a lucky girl and am looking forward to recovering from this injury and getting back out on the trails! For now I am looking forward to getting pedicures with my friends on Wednesday!
When life tries to blow away your glitter cover yourself in glue and never let go of your sparkle! The wind will stop, the dust will settle and you will shine again! Sparkle on! :)