Today was my first Mt. Washington road race. I was not very optimistic given how little I've run over the past month following my butt injury. Cacky, Danielle and I drove with Pete and Mindy following. Ryan spent the night at the mountain. We all met at Great Glen then Ryan, Mindy and I sent Cacky, Danielle, and Pete up the mountain, then we hung out in Ryan's office until close to race start.
We went for a short warm-up just before showtime, got in the crowd at the start, were told there was only one hill, then took off at the canon. The base of the mountain was 60F, low thick cloud cover, and 100% humidity. The first mile was crowded but it thinned out after that and I could stick to the road's midline like glue. This path was longer than cutting corners but the corners are substantially steeper (they have to be since they rise the same elevation over a shorter distance). We quickly ascended into a thick cloud. Lots of strategies out there including some who seemed to walk on schedule and others who seemed to walk when they got tired. I walked about three steps during the 2nd water stop so I could drink and about 3 steps on the hairpin (a really steep turn) but really didn't feel the need or desire to walk.
I hit the 1/2way sign at 40:36 and the 5 mile mark at an 11:01 average pace. I was past what I thought was the steepest part of the climb but then I hit the hairpin, which I was prepared for. Near the top of this, I slowed to a walk for about 3 steps, thinking this might be a better strategy, but then didn't feel right about this so I just kept running. What I wasn't prepared for was the steepness of the hill above the hairpin. It was here that I started thinking "OK, if I walk the rest of the way from here I can still make it in x:xx:xx". It's always a good sign to think this sort of thing because if you're not, then you're not running hard enough!
Somewhere around the 5.5 - 6 mile mark, we busted out of the clouds to a really gorgeous sunshine, mid 50s temperature, and no wind. I wasn't enjoying the scenery but was just focusing on the race in front of me. I wanted to put the hammer down with about 1 mile to go but this was tough. I caught a women (Abby Mahoney from Holyoke MA) with about 1/2 mile to go and when we passed a spectator he said she was #5. We turned into the wind which was small but significant and Abby tucked in behind me for a minute, and I was happy to help. But the #6 women (Lisa Goldsmith from Nederland CO) caught us on the final little climb before the really steep climb at the top, so Abby took off after her (but it was too late). I worked hard on that final, steep (22% grade!) climb and put what ever hammer I had for a strong finish. I was quite nauseated from my finish and thought I might blow chunks, which is also a good sign because if you don't feel this way at the finish then you've left too much on the course!
My time was 1:25:05, which I'm quite happy with, but it would have been fun to have had 1:24:59. That was good for 82nd overall (tied Abby at the line), 77th among men, and, 11th in AG, and shockingly, 1st from Maine!
It took about 5 minutes to catch my breath and then I did a little cool down at the top, then joined Cacky and Danielle to watch Mindy and Ryan finish. Mindy had an awesome race. Ryan decided to enjoy himself, which was smart since he had a great race last year, and it was good to seem him come through with a big smile.
Pete drove us down and after a brief lunch in the big tent, we all went to Mote for some sliders, bbq, and beer (this seems to be a common way to end my blog posts!).