Running with the Hayneses

Rockin’ Ham 5K

It’s been about 4 years since I ran my last 5K, and I can’t say I had any intentions of returning to the type of race where you run so hard you feel you’re going to puke. When it came to the Rockin’ Ham 5K though, there were extenuating circumstances. Chief of which were the fact that my husband was one of the race directors, and the fact that it was a fundraiser for the PTO at his school. He was really excited about the race and really proud of all the work he’d put into it, so he desperately wanted me to come and run it. I stubbornly held out on registering until the week of the race when his increasing excitement finally rubbed off on me, and I decided it would be fun to do a short race for a change.

My goal going into the race was, as usual, to win. :) It was a fairly small race (200-ish people), and most of the entrants were students and their families, so I figured I had a good shot. Race day was chilly and very windy. I showed up about half an hour early and ran one loop of the course (2.5K) to warm up and get an idea of what I was in for.

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At the start: Peter is on the far right in yellow, and I am to his right in green.  Photo by Gail Hynes.

When the race started, only one other girl went out faster than me, so I decided to tuck in behind her and wait for a chance to make a move. Most of the first half of the loop was downhill, so I enjoyed the easy speed. After that we started heading back uphill towards the start, and that’s where the lead girl started to fade. I decided the hills would be a good chance to put some distance between myself and her, so I powered through the rest of the loop imagining that she was right on my tail.

As it happens, I never saw her again, and my second loop of the course was slightly more relaxed since I didn’t have to fight for the lead (and my stomach was threatening to rebel, so that may have had something to do with the slower pace as well :) ). I finished triumphantly, high-fiving my husband as I entered the finish chute with a clock time of 21:07! Peter had run the race as well and finished in 5th with a time of 18:17.

This was a 5K PR for me, and it was also the first time that I’ve won a prize of monetary value!

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Easter dinner: check!

One thing I’d forgotten about 5K races: it’s insane how quickly the race was run and done! I’m used to my races taking up an entire day, and this one only took about an hour, including driving time and getting there early! I didn’t quite know what to do with myself when it was over, so I went out and ran another 5 miles just for good measure. :)

Twin State 50K Race Recap

Probably the best thing about the Twin State 50 is that it is held, almost literally, in our backyard. :) This might not seem like a big deal to most people, but for those of us who generally have to travel 2 hours or more to get to races, it was a rare treat to have one only 20 minutes away! Peter and I thoroughly enjoyed sleeping in and eating a leisurely breakfast before hopping in the car to make the quick, no-stress trip up to Windsor, VT for the 8:30 start.

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“The Locals” Peter and I with Jaime and Joel

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Starting Line-Up (photo by Ben Pangie)

Saturday morning turned out to be chilly and windy, with on-and-off snow flurries–in other words, basically your typical spring-in-New-England weather. :) I didn’t mind since I find it much easier to deal with cold than heat, and I was just glad that we FINALLY broke out of our rainy race streak!

I went into this race with a pretty ambitious goal. I wanted to break my PR (personal record) by 10-20 minutes. I’ve never run a 50K on the road before, and I knew that I should be able to hold a significantly faster pace than I do on the trails, so I decided I was going to go all out and see what I could do. The course for this race is extremely hilly, to say the least, so my strategy was to run slowly on the uphills and let it rip on the downhills to make up for lost time. I figured I could average 6 miles an hour doing this and finish in 5:10 (my previous PR was 5:24).

The race started off with about 2.5 miles of climbing–the Twin State 50 doesn’t beat around the bush, it gets right down to business! And it’s ALL business from then on out! The hills in Windsor are of the 3 or 4-mile-long variety, and if you’re not going up then you’re going down.

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I took this picture to try to capture how long and steep the hills were, but of course, this doesn’t come close to doing it justice. The upside of running such a difficult course was that the views were spectacular!

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Mount Ascutney

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My favorite picture of the day, taken just before the turn onto Cowshed.

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Mile 24, last view before we headed back down to town.

I ended up having a GREAT race and was able to stick to my plan pretty well. By the time I hit the first aid station at mile 13, I was starting to feel fatigued on the uphills, but I had built up a 5-minute buffer during the early miles, so I knew that I could slow down a little bit and still make my goal time. I started walking short sections of the uphills from this point on to give my muscles a break.

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Coming into the aid station at mile 13 (photo by Dane LeBlanc)

Shortly after the aid station, there was a section of maybe 3 miles or so that was all gradual downhill, and I really got into a groove there and made good time. Then there were more long miles of uphill, and I felt the first signs of what could potentially de-rail my perfect race–my calves were tensing up, on the verge of cramping. I walked more on the ups and drank lots of Heed (my hydration/fuel mix of choice) and managed to hold the cramps at bay. Later, when I was making the final, long descent back into town, my quads started acting up, too, and I knew that I had pushed my body to it’s limits. Which is exactly how I wanted to feel at the end of the race.

After a 27-mile loop on the hilly dirt roads, we finished up with 3 miles on flat, paved streets through the neighborhoods in town. The running was easier, but it was tough to follow the course through all the side streets, and many people, including myself, got off course at this point. I ended up doing my own thing for a little bit before stumbling back onto the course just before the finish. This was slightly demoralizing as I’d just had the best race of my life, and I felt like it was discounted because I got lost right at the very end. As it turned out, I ended up running the same mileage as everyone else (the course was a bit on the short side, and we finished with 30 miles), so I felt better knowing that I didn’t short-change myself.

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Crossing the “finish line”! :) (photo by Ben Pangie)

I finished in 5:02, which was right on my goal pace, and because of this, I’m very happy with my very unofficial results. Peter also had a great race and finished in 4:12, a PR for him as well! He ended up in 4th place overall, and I was 5th overall female.

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(photo by Ben Pangie)

And after a very satisfying morning, we hopped in our car and were home before we knew it! I could get used to that!

TARC Spring Thaw 6 Hr. Race Recap

Ironically, and unfortunately, this years’ TARC Spring Thaw was held well before any thawing actually took place. On any other year this wouldn’t have mattered nearly as much, but since this also happened to be the year that Boston broke the record for the snowiest winter ever, we found ourselves facing a course that would have been better suited for a snowshoe race.

As race day approached, with a good portion of that record-breaking snowfall was still on the ground, there was a lot of speculation about whether or not it’d even be possible to run in such deep snow. That’s when Emily Trespas, also known as The World’s Best Race Director, determined to do everything in her power to make the trails runable. She organized two separate snow-shoeing outings to pack down the snow, and the results were beautiful:

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 Photo by Emily Trespas

Then, just as we were all starting to feel like things were going to be ok, Mother Nature dealt us another blow. During the week leading up to the race we had warm weather and rain–lots of rain. This combination completely eroded the hard-packed trail and left it looking like this:

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 Photo by Emily Trespas

We were left with two feet of crystallized snow that wouldn’t support a person’s weight–in the words of the RD, the course was reduced to a “post-hole hell”! There were now just a couple of days until the race, so Emily tried one last time to pack it down, this time with a small group of volunteers stomping it in their boots. It would have worked given enough time and people, but as it was, in spite of their hard work, the effect was hardly noticeable. :( That is not to say that their efforts went unnoticed, and they were certainly not unappreciated. This race report is essentially the story of how a race director, along with MANY volunteers, pulled off an amazing race against all odds.

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 Photo by Emily Trespas

The morning of the race was chilly, overcast and threatening to rain. We all lined up for the start and then enjoyed a nice half-mile warm-up on the pavement before plunging into the woods to tackle the snowy 3.5-mile loop that would be our home for the next 6 hours. I was near the front of the pack as we headed in, and I’m sure there was an immediate bottleneck effect when we hit the snow. For awhile we tried to run, very lightly, slowly and careful, but post-holing in knee-deep snow quickly reduced us to a walk. It took me an hour to walk that first loop, and I post-holed countless times. It was hard-going, but I had known what to expect, and I was fairly confident that by the time all 86 of us tromped through that we’d have at least some sort of a packed trail for our second loop.

For an idea of what we endured during that first loop, check out this GoPro video by Tyler Harris. You can see me at the 1:30 mark as I head out for my second loop.

The second loop did turn out to be MUCH better, and we were treated t0 a narrow ribbon of packed trail. It was so narrow that you had to step out into the deep snow to let another runner pass. It was also very irregularly packed and slippery, but it was runable. I finished my second loop in 50 minutes, so the speed obviously didn’t increase a whole lot, but it was much easier on the legs, not to mention more enjoyable. :)

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This little guy pointed the way at one of the trail junctions. :)  Photo by Harsh Walia via Facebook

We got lucky with the weather, and we were warm and dry until the last half hour or so when a big storm blew in and let loose with cold wind and freezing rain. The snow conditions also stayed pretty consistent throughout the race, although there were a couple of spots that degenerated into muddy slush pits. The worst of it was the wetness of the snow–it was so loose and granular that it wouldn’t stay packed well, which resulted in a lot of slipping and sliding as we struggled along our narrow groove. In hindsight, I wish that I had actually used the microspikes that I’d packed in my drop bag–I would have gotten much better traction, but at the time I thought I was doing just fine without them. Apparently, stumbling around like a drunk and falling multiple times is “just fine”? I don’t know what I was thinking. :)

I kept my pace pretty steady throughout the race and kept ticking off those 50-ish-minute laps. I was feeling good and enjoying myself. I knew I wasn’t in position to place in the top 3, but I also knew that simple perseverance often pays off in races with tough conditions, so I pushed on and hoped for the best.

I ended up doing 6 full laps in about 5 hours and 20 minutes, and since I didn’t have quite enough time to do another full lap, I opted to do the optional 2-mile out and back section to bring my mileage total to 23.5. This put me in 10th place overall and 5th for women. (Those other girls persevered along with me! Oh well.)

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Photo by Mike Saporito via Facebook

This was my second timed race, where you run as many miles as you can in a set amount of time, and I find them to be surprisingly fun. For me they feel more laid back than a typical race because you don’t have the pressure of running a certain distance (though I probably should feel pressure to run faster!), and a short loop is nice in a lot of ways because you know what to expect from the course, you get to interact with the other runners a lot more, and you have frequent access to food, water and whatever supplies you want to pack in your drop bag. I think the best thing about this particular race was the unique and beautiful swag!

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Emily hand-carved stamps to make these custom prints for every runner!

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She also made prizes for the top 3 male and female finishers. My hubb came in 2nd place with 28.5 miles and won this pottery ornament!

In spite of the less than ideal trail conditions, both Peter and I had a great time, and this is definitely a race that we look forward to running again in the future!

Winter Training Update

I get asked all the time if I still run in the winter. The short answer is yes.

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The long answer, as any of my fellow winter runners know, is that even though running outside in the winter is a complicated dance that involves making calculated adjustments based on the temperature, wind chill, precipitation, snow depth, and road/trail conditions, being prepared with the right clothing and footwear makes it possible to run in just about any weather.

We had a period of time in December when everything, whether on the road or trail, was icy, so I got some good use out of my yaktraks! My preferred route for icy conditions is the flat trail that runs alongside the river near our house. I avoid hills at all costs when it’s icy because I don’t like having a perpetually bruised butt. :)

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As you can see, absolutely everything was covered in glare ice!

We started getting good snow in January this year, and once we got enough to cover the ice, I was able to run almost anywhere I wanted again (for a time). As the snow got deeper, I planned my routes so that I would run uphill on the road and back downhill on the trail.

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 Nothing like having the woods all to myself!

It’s been very cold so far this year, so the snow has stayed light and fluffy, and I was able to run on trails even with snow up to my knees!

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Since the beginning of February, we’ve had one snow storm after another, and now the snow in the woods is up to my waist. I am mostly running on the road now–even the snowmobile trails are rarely runnable because they don’t get packed well enough before we get more snow! I still prefer road miles over treadmill miles any day though, and I’m thankful that we live in a small town with lots of back roads and very little traffic.

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Long run on the road with Jaime and Peter

In addition to running, my husband and I are both avid cross-country skiers, and the combination of the super cold weather and the endless supply of fresh snow has made this the best year for skiing that we’ve ever had! Skiing is a great cross-training activity, so I will often ski on my recovery days or on a day when I just don’t feel like running (it happens to the best of us! :) ). On weeks that I have low running mileage it’s typically because I have high skiing mileage instead. :)

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Above all, winter for me is about taking it easy, scaling back my mileage and enjoying a slower pace. On weekdays I usually run no more than 5 miles a day–this allows me to get my run in before it gets dark and to spend less time in the frequently harsh winter conditions.

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 It’s been unseasonably cold this February, and below zero wind chills have been the norm. 

I value winter as a time to relax before the full-tilt days of spring arrive, and I try to take the cold and snow and ice in stride and make the most of this season in spite of it’s discomforts. After all, a quick run in sub-zero temps makes curling up by the fire with a good book that much more satisfying. :) So if you think of me on a particularly nasty day and wonder if I’m out running in that weather, the short answer is, likely, yes.

 

 

Cape Cod Frozen Fat Ass 50K

We ran the Cape Cod Frozen Fat Ass last year for the first time and experienced what I called at the time the “most extreme weather and trail conditions” that I had ever raced in.

Ha.

It’s funny how quickly our perception of past events can change. We had some snow and wind to contend with last year, but after running this year’s race in the midst of a nor’easter complete with driving rain, gale force winds and storm surge tides, last year’s race seems like a walk in the park.

This year our battle against the elements began well before the race even started. Peter, Jaime and I had driven down to the Cape on Friday night and stayed overnight about 40 minutes from our destination. We woke up on Saturday morning to an inch of wet snow on the ground, and the roads were a mess! The 40-minute drive ended up taking us an hour and 10 minutes, and we got to the race 10 minutes after it was supposed to have started! It was a stressful experience, but it worked out fine–the start was delayed since almost everyone was pulling in late.

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Our view upon arrival.

We started the race at 7:30, and by that point the snow had turned to rain. The wind was fairly calm and the beach was fairly firm. Other than being wet, I thought the conditions were pretty good.

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The race start–photos courtesy of Joseph Collin.

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That’s me in the green jacket and yellow ear-warmer.

As we started, I immediately pulled to the front of the pack, running comfortably in the 9-minute/mile range. The course consists of 2 laps around a 16-mile figure-eight along the beach, through the sand dunes and on marsh trails. The start/finish is right in the center of the figure-eight, so we had access to aid there multiple times during the race. The first section of the course is a short loop of about 5 miles, and I found this part to be easy running with good footing both on the beach and on the back side of the dunes along the marsh trail. The only notable hardship this time through was a lake-sized, ankle-deep puddle in the parking lot, which I mistakenly ran through not realized how deep it was. Oh well, I wasn’t counting on my feet staying dry anyways. :/

I passed the aid station at the start without bothering to stop and continued on to the long loop of the figure-eight. This section consists of about 6 miles of trails through sand dunes and alongside the marsh, then about 5 miles back on the beach. Eleven miles is a long time to go without the possibility of aid, and if you’re alone, it can seem like forever.

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Photo from last year showing the sand dunes.

Last year the loose sand of the dunes destroyed me. This year I had a strategy: follow in the footsteps of the person in front of me. :) It worked like a charm, and I didn’t feel like I exerted any extra energy getting through this section. The majority of the dunes are right at the beginning of the loop, and after that there’s a long stretch on an ATV trail along the edge of the marsh. This trail is firmly packed for the most part, and it was a welcome relief to have solid ground underfoot again! During this section I enjoyed running and talking with several different people, and the time passed quickly.

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Photo of the marsh trail from last year–there was just a bit of slushy snow this year.

When I emerged onto the beach again for the final stretch of the first lap, I was immediately struck by how much the wind had picked up. I didn’t notice it as much on the marsh side because the dunes sheltered us, but out on the beach the storm was really picking up. I was soaked to the skin, had been for some time, and now with the wind cutting right through my wet clothes I got cold for the first time. I ran hard (probably too hard) to get out of the wind as soon as possible. I finished the 25K in 2:38 and in first place for women and around fifth overall.

At the race headquarters, I made a rather long pit-stop because I had to wait for the porta, re-fill my hydration pack and get an extra shirt from the car. LOTS of people were coming in behind me and dropping out as I did this, but I knew I wasn’t ready to quit yet.

As I headed back out for my second lap, the second place woman, Jenny, caught up to me, and we ran most of the short loop together. I was glad to have her company because the weather was getting increasingly awful, and I wanted something to take my mind off my misery. My extra shirt warmed me back up at first, but it was soon drenched like everything else, and I was colder than ever. I talked about dropping out when we got back to the aid station, but Jenny talked me out of it.

We bypassed the aid station without stopping (to avoid temptation), and set out through the sand dunes together. By this point the storm tide had come up so far that the marsh had flooded portions of the trail, and we had to do a little bush-whacking to avoid the icy water. Jenny pulled ahead of me as we crossed the dunes, and as hard as I tried to follow in her footsteps, I just couldn’t get my frozen legs to move fast enough. I gradually slowed to 10-minute miles and struggled to keep from despairing as I slipped further and further behind.

Soon she was out of sight, and I ran the rest of that lap completely alone, with no one in sight ahead or behind. I was cold even in the shelter of the dunes, and I was dreading the miles I still had to face along the ocean, taking the brunt of the storm. I wished like none other that I had just quit when I had the chance, but now I had no choice but to tough it out and get it done as quickly as possible.

As I walked up and over the sand dunes and onto the beach, I hoped that by some miracle there would be someone there waiting to drive me to the finish. No such luck. I ran on.

The tide was so high at this point that there was very little beach left, and since I had to run so close to the dunes, the sand was much looser, making my trek that much more difficult. The waves from the ocean lapped at my feet, and the thought crossed my mind that if I stumbled, I could very well fall into the path of a big wave, and I may or may not be able to get back up before being washed out to sea. For the first time ever during a race, I was literally afraid that I might be in a life or death situation. I was chilled to the bone, and it was hard to move my arms and legs, but I kept running as fast as I could make myself go.

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What was left of the beach by the end of the race. Photo by Robert Jensen.

Finally, with great relief, I saw the Ranger driving towards me. I knew I was close to the finish at this point, so I didn’t want a ride anymore, but I DID want confirmation of how far I had to go. Looking back, our interaction was quite humorous:

Ranger: Are you ok?

Me: How far is it?

Ranger: About a mile. Are you ok?

Me: *nodding, with a glazed look*

Ranger: Yes?

Me: *nodding and starting to run*

I felt better knowing I only had a mile left and that someone was out there looking out for me and everyone else still on the course. Soon I could see the finish area, and I ran across the parking and burst through the race headquarters door, greeted with cheers and a blast of warm air. I’m not sure I can imagine a more satisfying finish.

My finish time was 5:40, and I was the 2nd female and 5th overall. Only 15 out of 50 people finished the 50K and that makes me mighty proud of this puppy:

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Peter and Jaime did the smart thing and bailed out early. I’m not any tougher than they are–they’ve both done 100-milers, and I don’t even want to dream of doing one of those–but maybe I can withstand the cold better. Or maybe I’m just plain stupid. Either way, I’m proud to say I stuck with something that pushed me further than I wanted to go and made me much more uncomfortable than I wanted to be, and I finished. This race will always be a reminder in the future when things get crazy that I can do hard things.

And I would just like to say, for the record, that THIS race had THE most extreme weather conditions that I have ever run in. And I hope next year’s race isn’t going to top it!

* * * * *

I’d like to include a big THANK YOU to Hammer Nutrition for giving me the opportunity to represent them as an athlete ambassador for a second year. I use many of their products on a daily basis, and after a little experimentation, I’ve found a fueling and supplementation “recipe” (see below) that I consider indispensable to my racing success. I really do notice a huge different in how I feel both during and after a race or a long workout when I use these products, and I can’t recommend them highly enough. If you’re interested in learning more, feel free to email me or check out the Hammer Nutrition website, which has a ton of useful information on how to achieve your peak performance. Also, if you’re a first-time customer, you can get a 15% discount by using my customer referral code (213666) when you checkout.

Primary Fuel Source: I use a 50/50 mixture of Heed and Perpetuem mixed with water (approx. 100 calories per hour).

Supplements: During the race I take 1-2 capsules per hour of the following: Tissue Rejuvenator (relieves pain, inflammation and swelling), Endurance Aminos (decreases perception of fatigue, increases cognitive function), Anti-Fatigue Caps (prolongs endurance, assists in energy production, prevents muscle cramps, counteracts fatigue) and Race Caps Supreme (reduces muscle fatigue, enhances energy and endurance, boosts workload capacity).

Recovery Aids: After the race I mix one serving of Recoverite with water and take 1-2 capsules of the following supplements, which all enhance recovery: Tissue Rejuvenator, Endurance Aminos and Race Caps Supreme.

2015 Race Schedule

After my last race, the TARC Fells Winter Trail Ultra, I pretty much went on a race sign-up binge, and I now have so many races lined up for this year that I think I better write them all down so that I can keep track of them. :)

January 24: Cape Cod 50K

March 15: TARC Spring Thaw 6 Hr.

March 28: Twin State 50K

April 25: TARC Spring Classic 50K

May 16: Manchester to Monadnock 50M (pace Jaime)

July 18-19: Vermont 100M (pace Jaime)

August 1: Mascomaman 70.3 (maybe)

August 11-16: TransRockies Run 

October 5: Joe English Twilight Challenge 6 Hr. (maybe)

December 5: TARC Fells Winter Ultra 32M (maybe)

The TransRockies Run, a 6-day, 120-mile, point-to-point stage race in the Rocky Mountains, is our BIG event for the year. This race is way out of my comfort zone–I’ve never run even close to that many miles in a week, never run at high altitude, never run a stage race, never run a race that far from home, and certainly have never paid anywhere near that much money for a race! With that in mind, it was important to me that our other races for the year would be low-key, low-cost and as close to home as possible. Also, I haven’t registered for any races after the TRR yet because I suspect we’re going to want to lay low for awhile at that point, but I do have a couple in mind that I’ve put on the list in case the spirit moves. :)

Whether or not we do the triathlon is still up for debate. The date isn’t great for us, being so close to the TRR, but it’s a local, inexpensive tri, and if we’re going to do that type of a race, this is the one we want to do.

Other than that, everything is pretty much finalized, and I’m looking forward to the new adventures that lay in store for us this year!

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2015, here we come!

North and South Kinsman Winter Hike

Ever since “The Great Pemi Adventure” in the White Mountains last August, Peter and I have felt the call of the high summits. There’s nothing like the thrill of standing on the peak of a huge mountain and looking out over the valleys so far below. It feels like standing on top of the world, and that’s a pretty powerful feeling.

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 On Lincoln while running the Pemi Loop

We went back to the Whites a second time in October to run The Presidential Traverse, which was 10 times even more amazing that the Pemi Loop, and we were officially hooked.

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 On Washington while running the Presidential Range 

We left the Whites at the end of that day thinking that, due to the impending winter, we wouldn’t see the peaks again until next summer.

Then, it turned out we just couldn’t wait that long. :)

Neither of us have ever done any serious hiking in the winter, certainly not on any of the 4,000 footers. And being runners, we don’t have any real hiking gear, certainly not any winter hiking gear. But we weren’t going to let any of that hold us back.

We chose a day with what looked like a good weather forecast, planned what seemed like a modest route, and set off into the unknown. When we arrived at the trailhead at Lafayette Place Parking Lot, we were greeted with a snow squall–NOT what we expected after a forecast of mostly sunny skies with a high of 28 and 0% chance of precipitation! We didn’t think much of it, figuring the random squall would pass quickly, and we’d have blue skies by the time we reached the first summit.

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We started out on the Lonesome Lake Trail–an easy, 1.2 mile ascent on a well-packed trail.

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The falling snow quickly coated everything, and we found ourselves in a winter wonderland.

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Lonesome Lake was looking particularly lonesome.

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From Lonesome Lake we decided to take the Kinsman Pond Trail because we wanted to see the pond, and because we had heard that the other alternative, Fishin’ Jimmy, was steep and icy. We only had YakTraks for traction, and while they work just fine on packed snow, they are not particularly good at keeping us upright on ice.

Unfortunately, Kinsman Pond Trail took us quite far out of our way, and later in the day we regretted the extra time this detour ate up. On top of that, Kinsman Pond Trail probably wasn’t in any better condition than Fishin’ Jimmy. The trail was packed, but it was not well-traveled, and it had been undermined by running water. There were many sections where we were essentially walking on a frozen snow bridge and had to be very careful not to post-hole through into the water.

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It was slow-going and seemed to be never-ending. Around the 4.5 mile mark, we finally came out of the trees on the shore of Kinsman Pond and were so relieved. Though that relief quickly turned to dismay when we looked up at North Kinsman towering over the pond and realized how far we still had to go.

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We followed the trail along one side of the pond, and then got on the Kinsman Ridge Trail to the summits of North Kinsman and South Kinsman. From there we found out that it was only .6 miles to the northern summit and another .9 to it’s southern twin. This trail turned out to be a breeze after what we had just dealt with coming up to Kinsman Pond. There were a few steep, icy spots, but for the most part we were able to hike without anything impeding our good progress.

We had been pretty warm up to this point, even taking off layers to avoid overheating, but at the higher altitudes we had to push the pace to keep from getting chilled. I also had to put my coat on over my hydration vest because the water in the exposed tube kept freezing. We were grateful to be sheltered from the wind below the tree line most of the time.

We reached the summit of N. Kinsman quickly, and yes, it was still snowing heavily. We laughed about the great “view” we had from the lookout and wondered whether or not we had actually reached the summit because we couldn’t see a thing.

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We continued on and soon found ourselves descending, so we figured we must be on our way to South Kinsman. This section also went really quickly and soon we were admiring the view on South Kinsman. :)

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Again, we had absolutely no idea if we had truly reached the summit, but another hiker checked his GPS and confirmed that we were in the right place. :)

We had to turn around and head back on the same trail at this point, and we crossed paths with a couple that we had met earlier in the day who kindly offered to take our picture.

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It didn’t take us long to get back to the junction near Kinsman Pond where we had to make a decision. Our original plan was to head towards Cannon at this point on the Kinsman Ridge trail, but it was already about 1:00 in the afternoon, and we still had a little over 5.5 miles to go if we wanted to hit the Cannon summit before heading back. Even though we had headlamps and plenty of food and water still, we didn’t want to be in the mountains after dark if we had a choice, so we debated for awhile before deciding to head towards Cannon and cut back at the next junction if we weren’t making good time.

This section of the trail turned out to be another part that wasn’t well-traveled, and we had to slow down considerably to navigate the rougher terrain. Also, for some reason our YakTraks kept falling off on this trail, and we wasted a lot of time stopping to put them back on over and over again. It kind of drove me insane.

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On the positive side, the snow tapered off around this time, and the skies cleared just enough to get a glimpse of the world around us.

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Looking back at the Kinsmans

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This is probably my favorite picture of the day.

We plodded on for 2.4 miles before we came to the junction where we could turn back towards Lonesome Lake. It had taken us almost 2 hrs. to travel that short distance, and we were still a mile from the Cannon summit. We decided that to be on the safe side, we should bail out while we had the chance.

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This was about as close as we got.

So after a long day, we found ourselves back on the Lonesome Lake Trail again, though we had not previously traveled this section, and again we found it to be a gentle grade and packed smooth. It took us about an hour to make the 2.4 mile descent back to the parking lot, and had we known how quickly we’d be able to do this portion, we probably would have continued on to Cannon. The thing is, it could have easily taken us twice as long if the trail had been rough, so being inexperienced and possessing a healthy fear of being stranded on a mountain overnight, we didn’t want to take any chances. My mom expressed her gratefulness. :)

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Lonesome Lake was slightly less lonesome this time around, and we got to see the shoulders of the mountains in the background.

I think I was lulled into complacency by the easy trail because heading down from Lonesome Lake I fell hard on an icy ledge that I could have easily avoided. I’ve got a nasty bruise on my elbow and hip to show for that one.

We ended up back at the parking lot as the sun was setting. We had done about 12 miles in a little over 7 hours and summited two more of New Hampshire’s 4,000 footers. People have started asking us if we plan to do all 48 of the 4,000 footers in NH, and while that hasn’t been a conscious goal of ours, I think it is quickly becoming one. :) We might have to buy some winter gear after all!