For the last 5 or 6 years, i have been wanting to run the Mt Washington Road Race but every year something came up.......yes....injuries. I have had balky knees for that long. First it was a kneecap tracking problem in the left leg, then the right knee started up, probably from favoring it over the other. I had been to orthopedics, podiatrists, chiropractors and physical therapists, they were all kind of useless to my problem. My savior is Nicole, my massage therapist. It took a while, but she got everything straightened out and now i have been running pain free for over a year. So with that being said, i really wanted to run the Rockpile this year. Of course, our team missed the lottery, but through the kindness of Paul Kirsch of the White Mountain Milers, i got a number along with TNT teammate Martin Tighe.
Now that i was in, i had to start training for it. Easier said than done. I had about three months to get ready for this, i had been running a bit over the winter, mostly 25-30 mile weeks with some snowshoe racing thrown in too. But when it has been 5 + years of injuries and no real competition you get lazy and out of shape. Getting back after a long layoff, especially after 50 was not going to be easy. I kept getting sidetracked, sometimes it was the weather, sometimes it was lack of motivation. I seemed to be falling behind on my training timetable. Finally, in early May, things started looking up. I had a few 40-50 mile weeks, lots of trail running, but no hills (Rhode Island isn't know as a hilly state). I knew that all i could do is just get in steady distance and hope for the best. I did run the Wachusett Mountain trail race and sucked on the uphills, but flew the downs, at least i know i had leg turnover. This would be no help at Mt Washington though.
If only i could find Mr Peabody and Sherman and hop in the wayback machine. I would have loved to run this race when i was 30 and a road rocket. I think it would have been good, i had a 1.07 half marathon and 23.58 5 mile pr. I loved running hill repeats. If only.........
On to race day. I arrived an hour and a half before race time and parked next to Tim Van Orden and Dave Quintal. After some small talk, headed out to find Bill Riley, who we were bringing back down the mountain. Right about then, the rain started and it was coming down pretty good for a while. It stopped with 25 minutes to spare so could get a warmup in with Martin. The legs felt ok, not great. Off to the start line, i lined up about halfway through the pack, too far back i would find out shortly. The cannon went off and so did we. With the first mile having some down and flat running, my mile was a bit faster at 10.45. I was concentrating on getting past slower runners, not my pace. It probably did not matter anyway. Second mile was 13 minutes, that was my last good mile split. It was about here that my lack of preparation was showing, third and fourth miles were around 14 minutes, halfway at about 48 and i was thinking that a 1.36 finish wouldn't be that bad. Then it got ugly. My back tightened up on me, i was walking too much, but i did feel best going up the dirt section and actually got my stride going just before going back to pavement, then around a sharp bend the legs just did not want to cooperate anymore today. I walked a lot of the last two miles, there was nothing in the tank. Almost to the top, i made sure i ran past Joe Viger, who was shooting pictures, then rounded the corner to the "wall" and i really wanted to run up it. I walked most instead, then watched the clock tick over to 1:45 as i crossed. Boy, was i glad that was over. I ran into Amber & Danny Ferriera and Rich Lavers right after that a vowed to never run this again, well maybe i will, maybe i won't. We will see what next year brings and decide in March.
One consolation was scoring on the winning seniors team for the White Mountain Milers. I was happy about contributing.
Once back to the bottom of the mountain and it was time for fun. I broke open some homebrew, Bob Fitzgerald had a growler of Moat Mountain IPA. Time to hydrate. It is always great to hang with friends after race like this.
Funny thing i found about this race. It does not trash your legs like a marathon would. I was talking to Craig Fram afterwards and he was saying that your legs will be fine in an hour. It is like eating chinese food, you will be hungry in an hour. It only makes sense as there is no pounding unless you are one of those crazy guys who run back down the mountain.
Next race is Mt Ascutney, more torture but for less time.
Next week is Cranmore, i will be behind the lens for that one. See you there.