21 June 2010 By Rachel’s

Mount Washington 2010

Mount Washington. The famous hillclimb up Auto Road in New Hampshire. When I first became interested in the race due to the fact that it is the only 2010 World Mtn running team qualifier in the U.S. this year, I couldn’t figure out why a road race would qualify as the sole (or truly soul) race for such a prestigious team. Their website explains it all.

Although I have raced many races in the last while that had over 4,000 ft climbing, I have never experienced anything with such a history, let alone so much contiuous climbing in such a short period of 7.6 miles with 4,650 feet gain. Wow!

I am so fortunate and thank the race director and his amazing crew for allowing me an elite entry. Otherwise I would have had to take my chances with almost 3,000 entrants vying for 900 entry slots in the lottery.  Once I found out I was in, I started my training. Luckily I was already doing much of what it takes to be ready. Plenty of base mileage, some good fast trail and road racing under my belt. I was also healthy and light. I knew I simply needed to do the right amount of uphill training, flat speedwork and rest to pull off a best possible performance.

I thought I was well on my way. I even had a local runner from Maine who won a lottery slot  find me on facebook and ask for training help. How exciting. I gave him what I was doing, asked him what terrain he had to work with and where he was right then in his training. I was more than happy to give him a training plan.  What I wasn’t expecting was this amazing indivual to give back 1,000 fold to me.

As an elite athlete and being a single mom, it is a challenge to take care of my son and his needs, work, train and also come up with enough money to get to my races. Often once I get there, getting lost (pretty much everytime!) sleeping in hotels, not knowing anyone can be draining. Oh ya, and then I have to race!?!

This fellow, Pete Peters extended the offer to me to pick me up from the airport. He also let me stay in his home literally right on beautiful Lake Sebago in Maine. Wow!  I wonder if he still would have been so excited to be my host and chauffeur if he knew what he was in for?  First off, I flew into Portland literally at midnight. He was there to greet me with a big kiss and hug.  From that point forward, he took care of every detail of my trip. Drove me everywhere, took me to Crescent Beach so I could experience the ocean in Maine, introduced me to many new beautiful friends and his family. The poor guy even got to take me bra shopping when I realized I had packed my running shorts twice and almost nothing else, with 6 pair total and exactly one bra. Sweet. I love packing! He never lost his smile.

Back to the racing, with one month until race day, I had some rough news at work. So sad for me that I allowed it to take away my ability to eat or sleep right in the midst of my racing and training. I paid a heavy price for this as I injured my hip and SI joint during another fabulous race for one of  La Sportiva Mountain Cup I also love so much.  With the help of Greg Freebairn, the most amazing Chiropractor and Acupuncturist I have ever experienced, my natural doc, massage therapy, yoga, icing, and trust in my body, I made it through to Mount Washington.  My races at the Teva Mtn Games and Mt. Washington unfortunately didn’t allow me to race at my full ability, but I made it through.

On race morning, we were greeted with one of  the warmest most beautfully days I could ever imagine. The race crew and volunteers were fully organized and all smiles. I met and shared a few kind words, jokes and laughs with some of my running friends I look forward to seeing at many of my races. Pre race warm up went well. I could still feel my hips and pain clear down my left leg. But I knew I would race at my very best for that day. The field was tough. It was the most stacked elite field I have ever raced against in the trail running world.  Truly at least 30 women were capable of presenting our United States well at worlds. Yet with only 4 female slots, it would be whoever came with the perfect training, rest, mindset, and strength to make it up to the top first.

I started the race holding back a bit as I have never been on the course. All I knew is it was steep and long. By mile five I wished I had gone faster.  I was able to increase the intensity but too late. I finished the race in 18th place. 10 minutes off my projected time and placing. I feel so lucky despite that to have raced such a magnificent event and am looking forward to next year. I have officially caught the bug! Much gratitude to my new friends in New England and friends back home, the Mt Washington race director and crew as well as Newton Running. I am looking forward to my next big one at Barr Mtn in Colorado!

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I will always remember waking up at the age of 12 to the pain I saw in so many while simultaneously realizing how lucky I was to feel fantastic.

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