Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Mt. Washington Auto Road Race - 2015 - Recap

I did this last year.  Recap here. It was fun to scan through my recap from 2014 and look at the pictures and remember my thoughts.

The main difference between 2014 and 2015?  Fitness and Attitude.

This year, it was more fun, a little slower, a lot warmer, a lot clearer, and much much more painful. 

As I ran/power hiked up the mountain I recalled certain points where in 2014 I was so hard on myself.

I didn’t do that this year. Guess what I've come to the realization:

  • I’m not Joe Gray or Kim Dobson.  
  • Living in the relative flat of Rhode Island, which actually is hilly compared to where I grew up in Michigan, is a training challenge.
  • This is not my job, I don’t do this for a living; I run and have adventures for fun, stress relief, and therapy. 
  • I enjoy the adventure for the sake of adventure and I'm not taking away from anyone's experience. (Years ago, I read a post by EJN, it hit a nerve/chord/something.  Every time I read it I get a different take away.  Mainly I vowed to not be a tourist in races, I still don’t think I am, yet am I?  I know the post was part satire, however there is some truth to satire.)
  • Taking in the  scenery was key!  The day was crystal clear at the bottom and all the way to the top.  This is a very rare occurrence.   

This was the day before

  • Talking to various people as they would catch up to me and then move on at a faster pace than me is a great part of the experience.  Sang a couple rounds of “100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall”; we got to 97 and decided that we were probably wasting energy. It was fun though!!
  • This race requires getting puppy power, meeting up with a Vizsla/Wire Haired terrier mix pup, OMG adorbs!! With the sleek Vizsla body and the fuzzy beard, kinda looked like Seth! Really perked me up.

Did I train for this?  Yes, I did hill work, 10 sets, once a week for 3 months, was that enough, no not really. Twice a week would have been better. Should I have mixed in long runs? Yes, most definitely, this would have helped with the glute issues starting in mile 2.

2014 I was a month out from my first 50K (Yes I’m still saying first, there may be a second) and I was in great shape.  Granted my lungs were rebelling on me for most of that spring.  I sucked up the Albuterol and gave it my best. My body though was through the ringer with the 50K and probably mostly repaired.

2015 I walked more than I ran on a weekly basis, but I did hills.  I can’t judge my level of fitness, however my attitude is much better,  I have realized I am not a competitor, I enjoy the race for the run and the personal challenge, some people may not be OK with that, I am.  I’m working on tossing out the comments from the egotistical narcissists who believe if you aren’t half dead by the time you cross the finish line you are something less than them.  As Jennifer tells me “Don’t engage.”  I’m not.  Water off a ducks back, besides they only care about my opinion if it is how great they are; not my opinion in general, so why should I let theirs keep me up at night or ruffle my feathers?

So the race.

This year you could pick up your bib the night before or the morning of the race, we still opted to pick it up the night before.  The group broke up for the meal which was kind of a bummer.  I latched on to Steve, his son Brandon, and Brandon’s friend Cully (short for Culvert, IKR? It’s a family name, and he seemed to have also inherited wisdom with the name).  We went to a local restaurant, The Scarecrow for pasta.  Nice to see a lot of people come over and talk to Steve about the farm and what not and see how much Brandon, he just turned 18 and graduated High School, has grown and watch him recite his college plan.   Youth is wasted on the young.

We had a filling pasta dinner and some ice cream and they dropped me off at the 1785 B&B and they went off to the NH house, letting me know they’d be by at 6:45 a.m. and we’d get coffee along the way.  Fine by me, I’m liking this switch to coffee from Diet Coke.  I’ll tell ya though all those things they say will change when you stop drinking it, not so much.  I had a wicked detox headache for a week or two but none of the rest of the bloat or sleeplessness or anything went away.  Huh…

The morning of the race, it was clear this was going to be a beautiful day, I was up about 5 a.m. with the sunrise (no damn rooster) and could see Mt. Washington from my open window, yes the temps dipped into the 30s overnight and it was a lovely chilly in my cozy room.

See how clear it was!!
On time were Steve and the boys, Dunkin Donuts was mobbed, so we lost a bit of time to pick up the rest of the crew.  And then there was a 30 minute wait to get parked.  Oh wow, people were panicking and freaking out.  Drivers had to leave for the top by 8 or was it 8:30?  Where we were meeting our driver?  Does any have any cell service?  Should we get out and walk?  Chaos was begining.  All I can think is my brother who likes to wave his arms and shout “EVERYBODY PANIC” when this happens.  

What happened?  The driver was right where he should be, everyone got their stuff situated, and he zipped into line to take the truck to the top (this was how we were getting down). 

Now was time for the pre-race rituals and then lining up.

The usual suspects!
Me , Mark, Don
Steve, Ro

The gun went off at 9 a.m. right on time and off everyone went, this was the only down-hill in the whole uphill race.  My group was ahead at their breakneck pace, I know enough to conserve energy for later on!

I wanted to remember to get a pic at each of the 1,000 foot marks.  I managed a few, not all.  So funny to see the differences in the weather between the two years!

So clear!

Selfie, note this post is NOT securely put in the ground, I nearly toppled down the mountain!!
This was completely fogged over last year!

It was clear all the way to the top, as I’d look back and over the side I could see all the way to the parking lot and to the forest below depending on which side of the mountain we were on.   Spectacular!

Mile 2 my glutes started tightening up.  I tried to ignore it. Thought well maybe I need some water a GU?  What is going on, the only other time my glutes have done this was about mile 25 in the 50K (31 miles).  It was uncomfortable and as I climbed further and further, ran when I was able, it got worse and worse.  I think this is the lack of distance running and proper care for my IT bands?  Dunno…  Hiking/Marching backwards helped relieve some of the pain, but gave me a bit of vertigo and twisted my tummy, huh, well shit.

Getting to the halfway point (mile 3.8) you are greeted with breathtaking views.  These help to ignore the pain.  And I know thinking about it just makes it worse.  I wish I would have brought my iPod to distract my brain.  I tried counting games, multiplication tables, anything to distract my brain that wanted to zero in on the ever tightening glute muscles that were throbbing with every push up hill.

One of the guys I’d been running with found the camera along the way and did sort of a crazy dance in front of it.  Red shirt Brown socks.  I’ll have to find that and look for him.  I think Scott Mason or Joe Vigor got a great picture of him at the finish.

I made it.  I was back and forth for the last mile with a woman in a brown shirt.  I get crazy legs at the end and in the chute and I was gaining on her. I was not going to pass her, I couldn’t do that, I got her attention and said, “You’ve got this, lets cross together, I’m not going to pass you.”  She smiled through whatever her pain was and in synch we stepped on that timing mat together.  I looked at the results (here) and we were to the second the same time.  I didn’t have it in my heart to wiz past her, that isn’t what this was about for me.

Looking back, at the ½ way point I was at 1:05, if the second half was like the first half I could make my 2:20 I thought to myself.  I gave it a go for a few more miles, still enjoying the scenery and the people around me.  It became evident 2:20 wasn’t going to happen, then 2:30 wasn’t going to happen.  What was going to happen was I was getting one of those nifty blankets and a medal (I’ve managed to lose the medal – the first one I’ve ever lost, oh well).  And no it wasn’t a plastic one it was a metal one because anyone who starts and finishes this deserves a metal medal.  No, really.

Cully explained to me, that no, just because I, the old lady, could do this it didn’t mean anyone could.    You have to want it.  So much wisdom for a 16 year old, after I got over the shock, I agreed, yes, yes Cully you are right, thank you.

See Maine in the background?  You could see for miles and miles and miles - GORGEOUS!!

The next day the mountain was socked in....

Beth, while youth is wasted on the young sometimes the young teach us valuable lessons if we listen.

P.S.  My medal was found! 

Of all the medals in my collection, this one and my first Marine Corps are the ones I cherish.   I earned that medal in a lot of way, I didn't get frustrated with myself, I let the race unfold as it was going to unfold, I didn't get frustrated with myself, I enjoyed the experience, I didn't get frustrated with myself, I took in the beauty of New Hampshire and the views from each step from the bottom to the top are imbedded in my brain, I didn't get frustrated with myself.


  1. Fantastic! I I can totally relate to this post and I am thrilled you enjoyed it. I think I may want to do this one at some point. Remind me next year...

    1. I figured you'd relate! And yes I will remind you!

  2. Great job and great pictures! Definitely a race I need to do one day.

  3. Beth,
    Don't question yourself -- you have it correct. We do it for the adventures! We do it because we can. Always.
    Remember, they only made a single BLS.....ever. Fucking original. #limited edition.

  4. BLS = Best, Longest-Lasting, Strongest! Somehow you always find a way to outlast yourself, and with a smile at the end :-) Great job, usual suspect! BTW, can I get a copy of the group photo? Good one.