Tourist Time: Mount Monadnock

After finishing the Drummer Hill race, I headed about 30 minutes southeast to Mount Monadnock to do a summit hike. I had read about the hike in my planning to head up to New England and knew it was going to be a tough hike, but since i stopped the race at 20k, I figured I would be okay.

When I got to the entrance, the gate attendants told me that they were expecting an afternoon storm, so I made sure I was keeping an eye on the sky as I as I was hiking. Based on the information I had read online, I was planing to do a loop, taking one route up and a separate one down which would theoretically be easier – after hiking both, I definitely agree on the suggestion and was very happy not to have to go back down some of the rock climbs I did on the way up!

From the beginning of the hike I knew it was going to be a tough hike. Even on the relatively flat portions at the start were strewn with rocks which made for slow hiking to make sure I wouldn’t turn an ankle.

The trails were well marked with white circles and though it was a tough climb up, scrambling over lots of rocks and boulders.

I took my time and made sure to take lots of pictures as I was climbing and then even more once I got above the tree line.

following the cairns to get to the top 

you can just see the very top in this picture, still a long way to go!
Unfortunately my phone died before I made it to the very top of the mountain, but I found some good samaritans who were willing to take a picture of me with their phone and send it to me so that I could have a memento of the climb.

I figured my phone just needed to be charged as I’d had this happen before where it said it wad dead, but actually just needed a kickstart of electricity before it would jump back up to 50% again. So I stowed my phone and just worked my way back down the mountain. Eventually I made it to where the trail split and headed down the new trail. There were a lot more steps built into this side of the trail, so while it was still rough my knees and quads, it felt a lot safer than the scrambling I had to do to get up the other side!

On the way down there were fewer people around, but as I was climbing down some bigger rocks with a guy following close behind me, I saw a snake sunning himself on the rocks and the guy behind me stopped to Snapchat with the snake.

After getting back to my car, I tried charging my phone with my portable charger, but it wasn’t turning back on, so I asked the woman working at the gift shop if I could borrow an outlet and tried that for about 15 minutes, but my phone still wasn’t working, so I went to the next plan – written directions back to Boston! I wasn’t actually heading to Boston, but I knew I needed to go south to get to Providence, RI, so I figured I could follow the directions until I found a gas station and hope they still sold maps. After about an hour of driving, I recognized one of the cities from my snooping around prior to the trip trying to decide on a hotel location, so I took the exit and was officially on my own to navigate the rest of the way. Luckily it wasn’t too long before I came into a more populated area and pulled off to find a gas station. At this point beyond finding a map, I also needed to find a Verizon store since my phone still hadn’t turned on. Amazingly enough, when I stopped at the first gas station I saw, I was only a few blocks away from a Verizon store and of course, when I told the ugly what happened and how my phone wouldn’t turn on, he got it on within seconds! But, at least now I know the trick of how to fix the issue for when it happens again (spoiler: it’s happened multiple times since then).

After the almost half marathon in the morning, hiking in the afternoon and then driving a few hours, I was ready for an early night in Rhode Island, but of course, I had another race the following morning to check off state #28, Massachusetts!

Drummer Hill Trail Race – Keene, NH (2017)

This race came about for a couple of reasons – I was heading to Massachusetts for the Ragnar Trail New England and I had a friend in Maine who I wanted to visit, so I figured I’d go up a bit early and do a road trip for myself before heading off to work that race, and I haven’t done races in virtually any of the New England states, so a double-race weekend sounded like a great way to check off a few more states!
I spent a lot of time perusing Running in the USA trying to figure out just which races I wanted to do. I really liked the Drummer Hill Trail Race because it was a “choose your own adventure” race – a 10k trail loop that runners had the option of doing 1 to 5 times. By the time I registered, everything was the same price, so I went ahead and said 50k (spoiler alert: that didn’t happen) and figured I was only about a month and a half from the double marathon, so a 50k shouldn’t be too unreasonable. As it sometimes does, life got in the way of any actual training in May (lack of motivation has been hard to overcome!) so I went into the race under-prepared and was very happy to have the opportunity to change my mind on race day.I flew into Boston on Friday night and made the 2 hour drive to Keene, NH. Given my late arrival, not much was open in town, but I was able to hit up the local grocery store the next morning to get some essentials before heading to Fuller Elementary School for packet pick-up which was super easy and then I followed some other runners to the start line, just a few blocks away at the Drummer Hill Conservation Area.

It was a fairly small race, with 80 finishers across the five distances, but the course elevation meant we spread out fairly quickly, having to hurdle a log within a few hundred yards of the start line and almost immediately heading uphill, which lasted about 2 miles. The terrain was promised to be rocks, roots and wildlife and they weren’t lying! I haven’t done a lot of really technical trail running and this definitely pushed me.

Nature’s obstacle course
Just follow the path… up the rocks!
There’s a bit more sun in the middle half of the course, but there were also some volunteers out there cheering people on and taking pictures, which is always a fun surprise during a race.
 All smiles, even with the bad running form
The good news about this course is that you get most of the climbing out of the way at the beginning, so the end of the course has a lot of downhill…

and some extra water and mud just for fun!

As I was finishing up my second lap, I knew that would be the end for me. I was doing a lot of walking on the first half of that lap and wasn’t looking forward to another “hike” to start lap 3. I had done a little research about some other potential hikes I could do in New Hampshire and since I already knew what this course looked like, I was ready to check out something new. So, when I made it back to the aid station, I officially checked out after 20k. I ended up finishing 9th overall in the 20k, coming in as the 2nd female in 2:46:29. The top 3 finishers in each distance got drum sticks with their place listed on them – a very cool (and very appropriately themed) prize.

After the race, I stuck around for a bit and talked with some of the other runners who had finished, as well as some that were coming into the aid station before heading back out on their third and fourth laps. I got to meet some runners who were part of Going for Broke(N) for the Ragnar Trail New England the next weekend, as well as a a student who was running the race because his professor challenged him to it the night before. It was a fun atmosphere and I probably would have stuck around a bit more except I ran into the wildlife that was promised in the previews, in the form of swarms of mosquitos.

Since I finished at 20k, it doesn’t officially count as a half marathon for New Hampshire, but since I’m not following any specific system for checking off states, it still counts as #27 for me!