I have a guest blogger this week while I am in Australia! My hubby and partner-in-running-adventures did the Mt. Washington Road Race last weekend. That’s UPHILL for 7.6 miles. Gives me asthma just thinking about it. Here’s his take …
Heading into this past weekend, in the tradition of Stride and Joy, I had The Fear. Actually, a double dose of The Fear.
The first dose came from having to be the guest blogger. How could I live up to the exacting standards of Stride and Joy? I wanted to take flight. The second dose came from having to run “Only One Hill.” That’s the catchphrase of the Mt. Washington Road Race. I wanted to take flight again. Preferably aboard a small helicopter. That’s a saner way to the top.
Well, in the true character of this blog, there was to be no running away … but there would be cursing.
This was the 52nd running of the Mt. Washington Road Race. I “won” the right to run via a lottery that opened in March. It seemed so easy: enter your details, input the credit card info (no charge unless you won) and click submit. No sweat. Then I received a “congratulations” email. Oh crap. What did I do?!!
Inclined to train
So, how to train? I live at sea level and my nearest hill takes a mere 30 seconds to get to the top. Move to Colorado! Tempting indeed, for that’s where the top finishers of this race hail from. They’ve got the altitude and attitude on their side. They don’t hold the course record though; that honor belongs to a Kiwi. There are lots of hills in New Zealand, but I like to think that some of his training involved running away from the Orcs from the Lord of the Rings movies. Or the walking trees. They are scary. An argument for clear felling forests if ever there was one.
Well, without a quick way to move to Colorado and in the absence of a build-your-own Orc kit, it was off to the treadmill to train.
The incline of the auto road is between 12 and 20 degrees. That fierce sounding 20 is only at the last part … you know, to the finish line, because the rest of the “hill” just wasn’t enough.
So on the treadmill, I cranked the incline up to 12 and pressed start … crikey … this was going to involve some change of pace. But at least now I knew: slow and steady would finish the race.
Rise and shine
Race day arrived, and what a morning it was. One of the volunteers said he had never seen weather so good. All week, I had been watching the conditions. A few weeks before, it had snowed. A few days earlier, there were 60mph winds. Today, though, it was clear from top to bottom. I hoped it would last.
In order to “run” up the mountain, you had to have organized a ride down in advance. This was facilitated via a forum on the Mt. Washington Road Race website. After picking up my bib, I met Roy, the guy whose car I would ride my weary bones down in. Roy is a veteran of this peak. He’s also 73 years old and has done the run twice. There was also a bloke who was 92. Now if they could do it, I had no excuse but to head to the start line.
The canon fired and we were off. In taunting fashion, the race started downhill, across a flat bit and then began to climb and climb and f**kin’ climb. I told you there would be cursing.
A woman I had spoken to prior to the race, also a veteran of the mountain, told me to just keep running, and I tried my best to do that. I made it over half way, in fact I even ran in place at a water stop just to keep the rhythm, but then looking at my pace I realized on certain steep areas, I could do just as well power walking and so over the last half, it was a run/walk. More of the former, I am proud to say.
As for the running part, it was easier to run on my toes, and here’s where my new Newton Running shoes worked their miracle. They have series of “energy return” ribs that create a block just to the front of the arch of the foot. This block made it so much easier to run the peak as I never had to land flat on my feet and it helped me spring off every time. Newtons, of course, come from Colorado. I am seeing a pattern here.
The best part of finishing the race, apart from not having to run up hill any more, was the blankets. Fleece blankets. Made in New Hampshire! None of that space blanket malarkey for us “mountain folk.” They came in handy too, as shortly after the finish, the clouds rolled in and it cooled.
As for the time to complete the 7.6-mile course, someone had posted on the forum that it would be around your half-marathon time and that’s exactly what it was.
Would I do it again? Hell yes! Next time though, I will be running all the way to the top … powered by anything that Colorado will offer. Coors beer maybe.
The event: Mt. Washington Road Race
The location: Mt. Washington, NH
The date: June 16, 2012
Hubby’s time: 1.41.16 (pace: 13.20)
The T-shirt: Blue tech shirt
The aftermath: Turkey dinner with all the fixins