Mountain Racing Flashbacks
7 days until I run my 8th Mt Washington Road Race! I thought it would be fun to re-live some memories of mountain racing that I have captured in past blog posts. This is a repost of my experience from August 2009 from the Race to the Top of Vermont, a race up Mt Mansfield in Stowe, Vermont!
Pre Race Musings from the Race to the Top of Vermont 2009
My biggest fan is my husband Steve. He is proud of my results and supports me everywhere I go. We talked to Catamount Trail volunteers at the Vermont City Marathon and at Mt Washington promoting the Race to the Top of Vermont. This race would be some drawing good runners. We call them “Running Royalty” It would be great to be in their presence at all of these venues and see the tough competitors in Vermont. Plans were up in the air so I registered late on Friday. We stayed with the Barbour Family in Hinesburg the night before having a great time with Terry, Tange & the kids.
We scrambled in the morning to get registered at the lodge, purchasing a pass for Schuyler and Steve to drive to the top. I didn’t realize they were using timing chips as it was something new. Turns out my chip went to the top with Steve in the car! The race director reminds everyone about wearing a chip and I freaked out a bit! Feeling embarrassed, I let him know. He was so kind and helpful telling me that I would need to let them know at the top that I have no chip.
I stretched and checked out the crowd. An interesting mix dedicated mountain bikers and runners. to attempt the climb. Feeling proud that moment toeing the line. The course is all uphill with a few little breaks, but nothing level or downhill!
As the bikers line up on the start, we hear that a van is headed down the road and then this van comes flying down turning left to quickly get out of the way. Pretty crazy! The weather was perfect at the bottom. It is a foggy, cool and cloudy cover at the top, so glad I packed my jacket to warm me up at the top.
On your Mark, Get Set, GO!
The gun went off and the bikers were the first to start up the mountain. After the bikers went up the hill we had 10 minutes to mill around and get in position. I like to be near the front and count how many women ahead of me as I get started. A little motivation to push harder and it brings out my competitive nature! The gun goes off and we head up the mountain. I hit the start button on my watch and nothing happened, somehow the setting was off and I had to fumble with my watch for more than a minute with my head down as I was running. — I finally got it going. Thinking it may matter as I did not have a chip and wanted to be sure to get a time! Technology fail! I headed up and passed a few women and really didn’t know where I stood. I ran near Donna for a while, she is such a vision of strength, to watch her was amazing — her arm muscles flex as she swings and keeps going up… I was psyched to try to stay in step — but eventually lost site of her right near the top as I found out I was in third…. when I found out it was Donna Smyers I was chasing I was even more proud of myself than before.
39th overall – Nancy Cook Belchertown MA
Behind the number one finisher: 12:17.2
At the races they hang the printed papers of all the runners and you can immediately search your results. It’s an exciting moment when you know you did well! I searched my name and walked away with this huge smile!
Lesson #1 – Always read everything in the packet about the race even if you have run a race before, you never know what you may miss. Having a chip is pretty important! I had to remember to let them know at the top that I didn’t have a chip (and felt pretty foolish!)
Lesson #2 – Watch, timing — test your watch and equipment before hand. Mine messed up and at the start and I was fumbling with my watch to get it started (especially knowing my chip was missing, this WAS important) — and finally did, but missed watching my competition head up the hill. Which was key to my strategy. I passed a few woman and only hoped that I was near the top. When Donna passed me I knew I didn’t have the master’s spot, and then was THRILLED to be third place female!
Top runners I was competing against are incredible runners with a great history. I researched and found this great piece on Kasi — she was really fast here and now I know why. When I found out that it was Donna — I was proud of myself for coming that close to this legend athlete in the East.
Kasi Enman – qualified for the Olympic Trials
Donna Smyers – won the Martha’s Vineyard Ironman I competed in (early nineties) and at that time she held the record for the Lake Placid Ironman. She was 21st woman and 1st place age adjusted masters at the 08 Mt. Washington Road Race (national championship)… And was in the 2007 list of All Americans – the best amateur athletes in the country!
**Repost from August 9, 2009
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