Thursday, July 2, 2009
I hate to say this, but I haven't run since the Cranmore Hill Climb. Results here: http://www.coolrunning.com/results/09/nh/Jun28_Cranmo_set1.shtml
I've done nothing but sleep for the past three days. Each day has been the same, get home from work, then fall asleep on the couch. Today, I didn't even make it to work. Oh well, it is what it is.
Tim, his father, and I drove up to N. Conway, NH and arrived early Saturday evening. After dropping our stuff off at the hotel, Tim and I drove over to the mountain and walked the course. This was the first time I had been able to get an idea of what a course looked like prior to a race. From the top of Cranmore you could see MT. Washington and the rest of the White Mountains. It is really beautiful. Getting a look at the terrain helped calm my nerves a little bit. I've been feeling slower and slower as the series has gone on, and as the races get harder and harder, I was spending too much time in my head fretting about what was to come.
The race is two 5k loops with a total gain of 2400 feet in elevation. Because we climb the mountain TWICE it would be a huge mistake to go out too fast in the beginning. But, sure enough, when GO! is given, people of every mountain running ability go out like a bat out of hell. It's just crazy. We hadn't even hit the 1K point, the real climbing hadn't even started, and there were people in front of me stopping to walk. I went out very slowly, and got boxed in early. Which was fine by me, it's a long race. The best guys run this race in about an hour. There's plenty of time to move up the mountain, and pass the over-exuberant.
I had a great climb up the mountain the first time, and I was feeling excited about where I was and how I was doing. But, then the downhill came after we hit the summit, and zapped all of the energy I had in my legs. Those of you who don't know, for many mountain runners, the downhills are worse than the uphills. They kill your quads, blister your feet, and sprain your ankles. And, if you take it carefully down the mountain, you get passed by everybody! The trick to downhill running is to run as if you have no regard for your personal safety, whatsoever. That's a trick I haven't mastered yet, so my legs take more of a pounding because I'm breaking as I go forward.
When I reached the base I was toast! My race was effectively over, and now it was just about finishing. Back up the mountain to do it all over again, I just put my head down, and put one foot in front of the other. Slowly up the mountain, I felt the mugginess in the air. The racers were now spread out over the mountain, it was quiet, and there was nothing but the mountain and my thoughts.
The second descent down the mountain was worse than the first. I was beaten literally and figuratively. I gave a nice final effort at the base, but I think it was just for show. Once I crossed the finish line, I slithered away, and looked for a place to sit down. I don't want to write this, but at that point I probably could have cried. I don't know why or how I managed not to, but I kept it together. Tim came over, noticed my facial expression, and said, "What's that face for?" I just shrugged my shoulders. He told me that I did very well, and that I had nothing to be ashamed of. I appreciated the words, but let them pass right through me.
I've decided to skip this weeks race, and rest up for the finale at Ascutney. The best five of the six races of the series are used for the point totals, so I can miss Loon and hold my spot in the top ten. And, I'm still third overall in my age group.
I'm glad that I've taken this break. I can hear my running shoes calling me back, and my mind is clearing. And I'm beginning to miss the wonderful trails out there in our beautiful forests.