Friday Night Vertical 2021

Friday Night Vertical 2021

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Mt Washington Road Race

I'm really falling behind on my blog posts. Ugh. It's not because I'm being lazy. A lot of it has to do with my computer access. My laptop died about a year ago, so I only have this old iMac desktop, and it just gets so uncomfortable to sit at for long periods of time. I typically use the computers at work because the chairs are more comfortable, but other people have been using the computer in Tamworth all day, and the office in North Conway has no air whatsoever, and I couldn't even spend 2 minutes in there on Wednesday. So anyway, I'm sucking it up and sitting my computer at home because I'm getting so far behind. It's hard to even remember what I've done! I might just have to do another catch up post, but I hope not. Maybe I can attempt not to be so long-winded...hahahaha. Yeah, I'm laughing, too. So here's my Mt Washington report, as much as I can remember anyway. Black-out mode is in full swing, and I'm already forgetting the pain. Haha.

Mt Washington is one of those races for which I have to find help with John, and for the second year in a row, his paternal grandparents were happy to help. The only problem....I couldn't get ahold of them the day before to be sure it was all set. John said they told him they would see him Saturday, but that was all I had to go on. I tried calling and texting, but nothing. So when we left the house and drove over to Center Conway, I wasn't 100% sure they would be there. I was already trying to come up with a backup plan if I had to bring John with me to Mt Washington. Who's car could he stowaway in up to the top. Much to my relief, they were awake and expecting him. Phew. That little bit of stress was gone. Now, the major stress of the Road Race could take over. Yay. Sooooonotexcited. Fifth year in a row, and I still haven't figured this race out. And I guess, in reality, I hadn't properly trained for it. Legs were still not 100%, and let's face it, this has not been a good year. Don't get me wrong. It hasn't been a bad one either. I've accepted it, but it's starting to really sink in that 2015 was probably it for me. And maybe my "it" just equals injury. I'd never been injured in my life other than a few sprained ankles before I started running faster, longer and more miles per week. I don't know if that's why I was injured, but maybe my body just isn't built for that. I don't know. I'll never know. All I can do now is just continue to keep my expectations low and just give what I have in this moment. And that meant going into Mt Washington with a slower goal. I figured anywhere between 1:30-1:33. I would be happy with that. The worst part of it all is the expectations that OTHERS have of me. I never really had to deal with this until last year. I was a nobody. No one expected much from me, but then I had a year of pretty good race times/finishes and got put under a spotlight. Being constantly asked if I'm going to win something or asked what I expect to finish in or asking how I did is actually starting to wear on me a bit. I've had an answer for my expectations every time, and they have been fairly spot on, but people think I'm just being modest. I'm not. I'm being realistic. I know people mean well and ask because they care, so I just answer the best I can. I am being long-winded. Haha. Back to Mt Washington....

I actually got up to the Auto Road the same time as last year. Last year, there was no line. I drove right in and parked. This time I waited in line for 30 minutes. Wow! It wasn't a big deal since I got there early enough, and I got a great parking space right next to bathroom... the woods. haha. You won't catch me in one of those porta potty lines there. So much woods!! The only issue is finding a place to go out of view of all the other people using the woods. Haha.

I put on my shoes and decided to go for a warm up right away. It was a little early, but I needed to get moving. The nerves were setting in. I made my way over to the Great Glen Trails trails and stopped to chat with Len Hall and Gene Fahey for awhile. Just as I was leaving them to continue on, my CMS teammates, Jenn Brooks and Regina Loiacano, just happened to be right there heading the same direction for a warm up. Perfect. I joined them. We ran a 2.3 mile loop on the GGT trails at an easy pace then parted ways to get ready for the race. I was getting really nervous. This race is always hard for me. It just isn't my strength. And it hurts, like really hurts. But for some reason, I feel compelled to keep doing it. It's like I have to. It's a local race. How could I not do it? In 2011, I remember being at Great Glen Trails with a hiking group I was guiding for the week on the same day as the Road Race, and it killed me not to be across the way racing up the mountain. I vowed to be there in 2012, and I was. I can only imagine I'd feel the same way as I did in 2011, if I didn't do Mt Washington. So...maybe in 2017, I'll figure it out! (I say this every year.)

I felt like I was all set to start, but I was starting to notice that the predicted 50-something degrees at the start was not a reality. I was HOT and already sweating my ass off. It felt like 2016 Boston again. Standing at the starting line and then realizing that damn, it's pretty fucking hot out here. Dammit to hell. My 2016 curse. TOO FUCKING HOT. I thought that oh well, at least by 4000ft, we'll get that nice cool breeze. Happens every year, I'm used to that. I can do this. Ok, so I kind of was complaining about not being a nobody anymore above, but I have to take that back a bit. Lining up at the starting line at Mt Washington and knowing almost every single person within sight is a pretty awesome feeling. I knew so many people that I felt bad that I couldn't talk to everyone! It helped calm my nerves to talk to the people I could. I found Jenn, Layce and Regina and moved up to start with them. I knew I'd run nothing close to them, but I just wanted to be with them at the start. I was also lined up with John Gillis of Team Gloucester. We all chatted up until it was go time. I couldn't believe I was about to run this stupid race again and got really scared just before the starting cannon. It was too late. Go time. I wasn't far off the start line. I hit the timing mats and just past them, the next thing I knew, John Gillis suddenly stepped into my path and I went down! Jenn had stopped suddenly in front of him and in an effort to avoid knocking her down, he made a quick step to the right and right into my left leg. I don't know how I didn't go down on my knee, but fortunately it was just on my lower leg. It hurt, but my biggest concern was all of the people behind me. I panicked for a second thinking I could be trampled, and I don't know how I wasn't, but I got up fast. John stopped and reached out for me, but I was up so fast. I was kind of in shock. And John ran next to me for a little bit to make sure I was ok. He felt SO bad. It happens in a tight start like that, but you just don't expect it to happen to you. And especially at the beginning of this race. That adrenaline rush certainly didn't help. And my leg hurt pretty bad. I had also cut up my left hand. I have to admit that it was tough getting my head back in race mode, but I did my best, and pretty soon, the pain of running up the Auto Road overtook the pain of the fall. I started to focus a bit and get back in the game. Whatever my game would be for 2016. I watched people I beat last year passing me by in the first mile and knew that this wasn't going to be a good finish, but I would finish, and it would be alright. I was not going to be disappointed, dammit.

I plugged away, hitting the mile splits a lot slower than I expected, but I was dying. The sun was baking and there was zero wind. The one good thing is that I passed Throat Clearing Guy very quickly. Caught up to him and passed him. I think I had to hear his noise for less than a minute. Thank you! I couldn't deal with that today! I was struggling, and just past mile 2, Amy Rusiecki caught up to me. She gave me some encouraging words, and I remember looking at her and just shaking my head no. Hahaha. Said something like, "Not today." But it was Amy who would get me back in the game for the next 2.5 miles. Without her, I think I would have fallen back, but she gave me someone to keep up with, and I ran just steps behind her. I'm so glad she was there. Thank you, Amy!

As we approached 4000 ft, I started to feel optimistic about getting out of the stagnant air and heat, but to my dismay, there was absolutely NO WIND. How is this possible on Mt Washington. This just doesn't happen...unless you're me and the heat cloud keeps following you. Haha. The relief I anticipate every year wasn't happening. By the time we hit the dirt, I started power walking. It's much faster than my run at that grade. It really is. Some people can run the whole way and be fast. I tried that and ran a horrible time. I've figured out that there is a point for me where walking is faster and saves my energy. I do it in spurts, though. I'm still exerting a lot of effort, but it's enough of a break to bring my heart rate down to recoup before I run again. I actually found myself surrounded by the same run/walk people at this point. I would stay with them up until the 6 mile point. I did the best I could here and lost Amy in the process. She fell back, but I'm sure that was all in the plan since she had Western States 100 the following weekend. I hit mile 5 and kept plugging away. Finally came on Roger Marcoux and his coworker, Heather, who were out flying their Dragonfly. I don't remember what Roger said to me, but I do remember responding with a thumbs-down. Haha. Just past, Roger, though, was a hairpin turn, and to my relief... A COOL BREEZE. This was just before the mile 6 point. Wow. I felt so much better all of a sudden. I sucked down a gel and then proceeded to have a great 1.6 miles to the finish.
A frame grab by Roger Marcoux show me just passing the mile 6 marker.
With the breeze, I all of a sudden got a second wind. I even passed two women between here and the finish. It was so strange. I was tired, but I felt really good. Of course the grade eases up here a bit, which I'm sure helped. The easier grade plus AIR gave me the boost I needed to get to the finish, and the last 1.6 miles seemed to fly by. The only downside to feeling so good the last 1.6 miles was that I started to feel all of the other pains. I began feeling excruciating pain in the muscle on the front of my lower left leg and grew concerned I had a pulled a muscle. Then I remembered. That was where I fell at the start of the race. The pain of just running up the Auto Rd had covered up this pain, but now that I was feeling good, this pain came back with a vengeance. In addition to this, I noticed pain right where my leg meets my foot, also from my fall. It was almost throbbing. But, as a runner does, I just ran through it, and before I knew it, I was at the base of the WALL.
Photo by Courtney Murphy

Photo by Andy Drummond. I couldn't stop smiling.
Almost at the top of the wall! Photo by Joe Viger.
Just as I crested the wall, I saw the clock still under 1:32, 24th woman. Perfect. I pushed it in and finished in 1:31:52, exactly what I expected. As soon as I crossed the finish line a woman tried to put a blanket over me. This was the first time in 5 years that it was unwanted. I ripped it off, probably looking like a jerk, but I was just so HOT that I couldn't stand to have that around me for a second. I needed water like there was no tomorrow, and somehow, one quickly appeared in my hand. I stayed near the water table and started to see so many people I knew. It was a little overwhelming trying to talk to everyone since everyone started asking how I did. All I could answer then and for the rest of the day was, "I did ok. It was what I expected." Most people weren't satisfied with this answer throughout the day and wanted to know my time. I hated saying it. Every time I said it, I started to feel a little mad about it. 2.5 minutes slower than last year. UGH. I did not want to be disappointed, so I just kept telling myself that I ran exactly what I thought I would. If I know where I am, and I'm running that, then I have to be okay with it.

After socializing at the top, I followed Kevin Tilton down to the parking lot. He was helping me find Paul Kirsch's truck since I always stowaway a bag in there. I found Paul and a few other people down there. Paul had a huge cooler full of beer. You know you've finally reached full beer snob status, when you're not really satisfied with the choices (they were all decent craft beers!) and refuse a beer all together. haha. In reality, I was about to run the 7.6 miles back down the mountain, and I didn't really want to get hammered off a beer that I didn't really find exciting beforehand. (My body was so depleted, that, yes, one beer would have knocked me on my ass.) I changed clothes quickly in Paul's truck, left my bag and blanket behind, then started to head down, but I spotted Kevin and the WMDP people and stopped to talk to them for a bit. My foot was KILLING me. I guess John's shoe had actually cut my leg/foot in two places and the pressure from my HOKA's that I changed into was really hurting it. It actually hurt so bad that I wasn't even sure I could run down. I was supposed to run down with quite a few people, but I couldn't find any of them, and that almost gave me an excuse to hitch a ride. But I said fuck it and started down the mountain solo. The pain dissipated quickly so that I was able to move faster. The amazing thing about running down is finally seeing the view that's behind you for the whole race. It's just so amazing. I've seen it many times, but today, it was super clear and gorgeous and totally makes the run down worth it. Plus, it really loosens me up instead of stiffening up while sitting in a vehicle of potential death as it rides on burning brakes down the Auto Rd. Haha. I started passing quite a few people and would continue to do this until I caught up with John Gillis and Regina Loiacano about halfway. The neatest part was that I knew almost every single person I passed as I ran down. Once I was with John and Regina, I slowed down to stay with them the rest of the way. John still felt so bad about tripping me. I knew it was an accident, so I didn't let him know how much pain I was in at the moment. And, like I said, it had dissipated once I started running again. It was great to catch up with the wonderful Regina. She is one of the kindest people I've ever met, so it was time well spent. I can't wait to stay down in Gloucester for the weekend of Lone Gull so that we can hang out a bit more.

When we finally got to the bottom of the mountain, we parted ways. I made my way back to the car to change clothes and update a friend on the race. Then I dragged my beer cooler over to the Six03 tent and parked my ass there. I was early to the Hart's Turkey Farm food, but as always, I had trouble eating it. I can never eat all of that heavy food. I also broke out some beer. It was SO HOT out, probably upper 80s, so the cold beer hit the spot. I enjoyed hanging out with the Six03 people since I haven't done a lot of that this year.
Six03 group. My newest tradition is double-fisting beers. 2 years running.

I had been drinking, so yes, I was flexing, but it was only to see if the vein would pop out. Some woman walked by with jacked arms and veins, so I was trying to look like that. Of course, I didn't remember any of this until Tom Hooper reminded me. Haha. I'm with Sharon Morrison and Tom here. 
After awhile, I ventured out to find out the team results. I ended up in the wrong place... or so I thought. Bob and Michelle Fitzgerald were over at the computer results, so I started talking to Fitz about Hartford, when Michelle, whom I had met once briefly, got all excited when she realized who I was. She said, "You're Leslie? I brought you a present!!" Haha. What?! Me?! Michelle went to their cooler, then turned around with a Heady Topper to give to me. She said she had gotten that for me basically because I was a fast runner AND drank a lot of beer! hahaha. I loved it! Hell, yes! But, wow! What a surprise! I couldn't believe she brought that specifically for me. And it's damn good beer.

From here I made my way into the big tent to watch the awards and to find out our team results. CMS ended up 2nd overall for the open women! Awesome.

From here, I made my way back to the Six03 tent. Way too much socializing for me outside of the tent. I'd hang out there until we were all shut down and told to vacate. Boo. But I guess it was time. I dragged my non-empty beer cooler back to the car then drove back to Center Conway to pick up John. This year, he had had a great time with his grandparents, so I was relieved. We stopped for ice cream on the way home because it was SO hot, and I needed some sort of substance.

Once home, I took the dogs on a walk up Heavenly Hill, then I was all done for the night. I got invited back out to the Moat for dinner, but I declined. I needed quiet, and John wasn't really up for it either. I was tired and my legs trashed.
My injury. Doesn't look so bad. It would end up causing me quite a bit of pain for two weeks! It was mainly just a bad bruise that covered half of the front of my leg. I couldn't wear my work boots for a week because of the cuts on my foot.

Heady Topper from Michelle

Beer that I stole from the Six03 cooler before I left. :)

1 comment:

  1. Awesome! This is one of my favorite races, although it takes me an hour longer to get to the top! Well done and you are an amazing runner! Yeah, you do seem to have the heat cloud following you around this year.