And another quote by the esteemed Tim Kreider.
But on to the race!
The Gut Buster Mt. Washington…dun dun dun!
Yes, this one was not recommended by my husband, and I deliberately avoided talking about it at work or to anyone because I knew they would tell me I was making a bad decision. I have a bad kneecap and it gives me trouble and running down a suicide hill would definitely count as making a terrible decision.
So, I just didn’t mention it, and I ran it on Saturday.
And was it a bad decision? Nope! Would I do it again? Very debatable…
It was tough. It was rough. Am I glad I did it? Hells yeah!
The first inkling of trouble was when we got to the ski hill and it was absolutely freezing, pissing down rain and blasting wind. I started shivering immediately and my teeth were chattering. I signed up for this? WTF? I felt sorry for the poor volunteers at the registration tables, those folks looked absolutely frozen. It was, according to the Mt. Washington sign, 11 deg at the base of the mountain. BRrrrrrr.
Keeping in mind it is August, and everywhere else it was 20 deg and if not sunny, then only mildly rainy. Jesus.
The race director- who is a total moviestar- spent a lot of time warning us about the hazards on course…slippery rocks, lots of rocks, rain, wind, steep conditions, ”scrambling” sections, oh and the course that was going to be 6km is now 8.5km- yayyyy…????? In my mind I was like oh god, there goes my pride and all of my bones right now. What kind of stupid impulse made me sign up for this freezing torture?
Anyways, before I could back out, we were out and running up the hills. For awhile I was feeling ok- I was passing people, feeling good, kind of smug really about passing even though I started at the bottom of the pack. Then we all kind of had to backtrack because everyone got lost immediately and missed the first of the flags. Whoops!
So, on we went until we reached 3km of the supposedly 5km uphill- that’s when the bad boys really started, and everyone was walking/trudging grimly uphill. This is when it started feeling less like a race, and more of a trudge, ha.
We got to a peak (note- I said ‘a peak’ not ‘the peak’ or ‘the summit’) and I was thinking oh yeah great, this is going well! Until we kept going and I noticed we weren’t going downhill. We were going up again…to the next peak.
I gamely jogged across a really bizarre foot path of sorts made of huge boulders -slippery- and then trudged up some truly difficult scrambling sections. I was using momentum to heave myself up the scramble, wedging my foot in a rock, grabbing for a chunk of root or juniper bush to crawl up higher. At one point my foot slipped and I almost fell butt-first into the face of the guy following closely behind me. Phew, close one!
Then I felt good, ok that MUST be it!
We were even going a bit downhill…And then..back uphill?
Yeah, the run wasn’t done with me yet. At the brief downhill section, I got passed by everyone. I suck at going downhill, and rock at going uphill. And now we were really and truly heading to the summit. Cold wind and rain blasted us tirelessly, and we were socked in fog. It was a eerie experience, and I was all alone. It felt like I was the last person left on earth, running through a frozen apocalypse!
I kept going, and kept my head to the ground. I couldn’t see well because the rain was fogging my eyes, and the wind was making me tear up. That was when I missed the pink flags and cruised for awhile on a road. I enjoyed the cruise downhill until I noticed a suspicious lack of flags. Curses! I saw a guy quite a way away to my right running through a meadow and I shouted to him if he saw the flags- he yelled back yes!
I had to backtrack to the meadow, and I picked up the flags again. And I got passed by a few more people…Darn those downhill sections, I have to be the only person that can’t deal with it!
I jogged, walked and slipped my way down the mountain. Lots of small slippery rocks made it tricky, there were a few little boards over running water, and some logs just waiting to grab your ankles. Still, I was keeping at it.
And then, I cruised the final small gentle rise and headed down to the finish line. It was in sight! I have to say, this was the first race I’ve had enough energy to wave at Ian when I ran through the gates, haha. Cold, soaked and happy, I was glad to be done my first and only trail run up a mountain.
We both finished with respectable times, Ian finished 7th and I finished 4th in our ages groups. Ian even won the last door prize- a really sweet Nike running shirt!