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Downtown Temple,NH

Monday, June 21, 2010

Mt Washington Road Race

Walkers to the front, please!
Here's my goal for this report: maintain a positive attitude AND write about my experience. Wow, this is going to be tough...I mean I'm looking forward to the challenge! Ok, here we go!!

My day started early. Technically the previous day ended late. I was so looking forward to this race that I stayed awake as long as possible, giddy with excitement. Seriously, does anyone really need more than 2hrs sleep? There's so much to enjoy out there! My alarm went off at 4am and I was out the door by 4:05. I wanted to make sure I saw the sunrise over the Ossipee Mountains. Thankfully most Dunkin Donuts don't open until 5am so I was able to drive the first hour North without coffee, which as you know only distracts you first thing in the morning. Who wants to struggle with the cup holder so early in the morning, especially when it's dark out?

As I came through Meredith I wondered where all the bikers were? Isn't this motorcycle weekend? Who knew bikers weren't morning people? They're missing a fantastic sunrise! Looking back I should have beeped my horn and squealed my tires in front of their motels, just in case their alarms didn't wake them. I feel kind of bad I let them all over sleep. Sorry bikers.
I arrived at the base of Mt Washington around 6:40am. and got a sweet front row parking spot. Within seconds of arriving I was giving instructions on how to park cars in the beautiful, shadeless fields. I needed to stretch out my legs anyways after all that driving. Plus, I could work on my tan for a couple of hours before the start of the race. And who could complain about this weather? 75-80 degrees by 7am? How great is that?? Things were falling into place for the perfect pre-race preparation! Oh, as a bonus I met up with a couple of ticks. One I had to return to the fields prior to the race, the other sneaky guy managed to hook a ride to the summit of Mt Washington and made it all the way back to Merrimack! You can say we bonded.
I met up with Chris Dunn at the start and lined up about 2/3 back in the pack. I thought we were a bit too far back so we moved up a few rows. The plan was to stick with Chris as much as possible in his quest for Dunn family bragging rights. Our initial goal was 1:30 but the nice weather made me rethink this plan. We may want to spend more time on the mountain than planned and enjoy the great day, not to mention get our moneys worth out of this race!
With the whisper of a cannon blast we were off..sort of. I was determined to start of easy so I decided to take 25 seconds just to reach the starting line. It gave me time to gather my thoughts about the upcoming challenge. It seems some people took more time than I to gather their thoughts, choosing to walk a little right from the starting line. I know, at most races they ask you to seed yourself appropriately and put the walkers in the back. But not at the 50th Mt Washington Road Race. No sir. You can start where ever you feel like it. Heck, it gave some of us an opportunity to work on our bob and weave moves, a little lateral motion never hurt anybody!

Such a nice day...memories.
This would be the slowest and easiest I've ever started this race. The pace was very comfortable and I was not working hard at all. Somehow I lost Chris right from the start. For the first 2 miles I would look back several times to see if he was near. I really planned on working together on this hill. The good thing about starting so far back is you get to pass a lot of people. I mean A LOT. I passed the mile mark in 10:18, 24 seconds ahead of Chris. I even slowed a little to give him a chance to catch up. My plan was working, passing the 2 mile mark in 22:05, only 20 seconds up on Chris. The 3rd mile I slowed even more, all to give Chris a chance to catch up. I was determined to work with him on our way to the summit. Mile 3 was reached in 33:30, a mere 2 seconds a head of Chris. Finally, we would be able to work toget....hey wait a minute, wasn't that Chris that just went flying by? Maybe he didn't see me, he did have his head down after all. Not a big deal, I'll just work extra hard on the steep sections to catch back up. I probably should have said something to him, my bad. I let Mike Wade pass me right around the half way point. He really wanted to hear his name called first by Steve Moland as we came through the next water stop. Your welcome my friend. Little did he know I was actually running in his shadow. My sunblock had washed off with my bodies natural cooling mechanism and I was afraid of getting a sunburn. Again, I should have said something as he too left without me, charging up the hill. The lesson here? When you don't speak up you get burned (sunburned).
The wall doesn't look so steep?
Chris was in a zone and somehow didn't notice me behind him. By mile 4 (45:56) he was 11 seconds up, by mile 5 (59:24) he was 52 seconds up. Something's wrong. He should have realized I wasn't running with him by now. I hoped it wasn't altitude sickness setting in. Around this time I decided to take a little fuel (Honey Stinger Gel) and try to catch up with Chris, you know, to make sure he was all right. In my intense focus on checking on my friend I almost missed Mike Wade as I passed him again. I figured Mike looked great and he didn't need me hanging around distracting him. By mile 6 (1:12:12) I had closed the gap to 28 seconds. Gee, I hope I can catch him before the finish to make sure he's alright. For a few seconds I wondered if I would run out of road before reaching him but then I noticed Chris really only has one gear. It was sort of like watching the Cog Railway Train ascend the mountain. With a little hard work (which I didn't mind at all since we've barely been running more than an hour and 24 odd minutes), I was able to catch up to Chris and check on him, right at the 7 mile marker (1:24:25). For some reason he shook his head in disbelief. He must of thought I was in front of him or something, and didn't realize I've been chasing him down for the last 5 miles. Like I said, he probably never realized he passed me earlier.
With less than a half mile to go I chugged along, doing my part up front for a change. Chris had done the work up front for way too long. It was only fair that I take over the duties up front, especially since we were so close to the finish. He looked really tired so I figured he could catch my draft and maybe even stay in my shadow to stay out of the hot sun (he is fairly light skinned, you know). Somehow he dropped out of my draft. (I swear I didn't know it). As I made my way up the final 22% grade (some referred to this as the wall for some reason), I smiled and waved to the Trail Monsters and then made my way to the finish (1:31:50). With all my hard work I easily pulled Chris to the finish in 1:32:00, just 10 seconds back but more importantly shattering the Dunn Family record for the Rock Pile. You're welcome Chris, the pleasure was all mine.
Gee, that was fun....thanks!

12 comments:

Laurel said...

Ran it once as an invited athlete and was completely humiliated. Swore never again, and I meant it!

Steve Wolfe said...

It's definitely humbling. I don't need to highlight my weakness every year. It only took 6 tries to figure this out!

Michael said...

Not sure what must have been harder for you - being "positive" or running the race. Funny stuff Steve. Classic you.

Steve Wolfe said...

The race report was harder.

sn0m8n said...

All I know is that you were very happy after you finished. Must have been the thin air getting to you.

Side note: I hate big races because of the seeding problem. People are dumb. I could rant on this for hours...or about the same time it takes all those people who line up in front of me to finish a 5k.

CHRIS J. DUNN said...

I've come to the conclusion that we just can't work together. It's something in our DNA that simply will not allow us to help each other. And I'm okay with it. The good news is that you're only getting older and slower. The way I see it, all I need to do is outlast you.

Steve Wolfe said...

Chris, I agree. My DNA is faster than yours. It's very frustrating.

Tami said...

i have never thought of doing this, people who know I run always ask if I plan to run up the Mountain....I don't think so.

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Scotty "PHAT" Graham said...

Steve, Now that was funny. I love all the good humored ribbing of Chris. You two have had some great battles. That's what makes this running stuff so much fun. You can always find someone at your level to do battle with, and at the end of the day sit back and have a cold beverage to laugh about it.

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