Monday, June 21, 2010

Mt. Washington Road Race

Some days aren't your days. It is easy to start blaming things and making excuses... I didn't eat a very good dinner... I was an emotional wreck... I couldn't sleep... My hip hurt... I felt sick...I didn't know the course... I trained too hard... etc....etc. I always find this interesting because on the days that are yours these same things are sometimes present too. I have had some of my best races on cereal dinners, after emotional upheavals, with 3 hours of sleep, feeling achy/sick, not knowing a single step of a course, and training like a mad woman. Regardless of the day we're all aiming for our best. And sometimes we just have to surrender to what happens. Our bodies and minds are mysterious, sometimes carrying us and sometimes fighting us. As Buddha says, every day is different. Anyhow I will do my best to avoid a blog of excuses. I did my best on Saturday. I am inthralled by the amazing talent of all the runners that headed up Mount Washington. It is an epic course that tests personal strength and determination.

Taking a step back, I found out about this race in 2009. It caught my attention and I decided at the beginning of the year I would give it a go. The instant I got into the race fear settled in and I was scared shitless. I put off buying my plane ticket, doubted my training, and questioned what in the heck I was doing. But, eventually I just dove in. I knew if I didn't show up I'd always wonder 'what if.' There is no way I would ever have stepped foot in a race like Mt. Washington two years ago. My lack of running confidence and my anxiety ate me up. I've come a long way in a couple years. Sure my old habit has a way of reappearing, but I am fighting it, sometime with a glass of wine and jokes, but hey it's getting me to the starting line!

I flew into Portland, Maine on Thursday evening. I spent the night there and woke-up to find a yoga class in town. It was the perfect class. It was gentle, mellow, and relaxing. The instructor, Rebecca, spoke of surrendering. How perfect... right?! I let go in that moment. I was in the best mood driving to New Hampshire after the class. I sang along to country music as I drove in the sunshine. I arrived in Intervale where I stayed the night in a cute little motel. Then Saturday June 19th, I drove 20 minutes to the start. My hip has been an ongoing issue for the last few months, but I knew I could push through (of course being alone in a motel the night before makes you think too much about such things). Shit I was able to push through Miwok with a hurting hip and an upset stomach (and to date, that has been my hardest race). Anyway, I just surrendered and knew I'd make it to the top.

The canon went off and in 90 degree heat, we were off. It started fast and I tried to stick with a fast pack of women. I kept a few in eyesight and then we were into mile one, 7:38. My first thought, "oh shit!" Too fast and instantly I started thinking, maybe I won't make it to the top. Then there was that mental battle. Mile two I had to stop and walk, holding on to my hip as if that would cure it. People cruised past. Fuck this I thought. Then it was, "now Caitlin get a grip, you've been through worse, you're strong, come on now." Back to running. Then "yay some mellower grade. I can do this!" Hip pain... damn walking again. "This sucks." Anyway you get the point. It was one foot in front of the other with a constant internal and physical battle. At mile 5 things started to change. The hip chilled. I took in the views. I started to get my groove and then it was over far too fast. 7.6 miles up a hill even with an average grade of 11.5% is just too short. Too short for me at least. I am learning I don't really warm up until mile 5 or 6 and then I really start enjoying a race around 11 or 12. I like the long stuff. The short stuff is a good challenge, but it is never very rhythmic for me. I just like more time with my epic experiences. Personal preference that's all.

I finished tenth at Mt. Washington. Not what I hoped, but I am proud of it. I got to the starting line. I made it to the top. I was humbled and happy. I am growing as a runner and better yet, as a person.

Full results
More Info on the race


SteveQ said...

There were some real horses out there! Local (here in Minnesota) hero Chris Lundstrom only came in 8th and I thought he had a good shot at the win.

I climbed Mt. Washington and found myself fighting 50 mph winds, so just finishing that race is an accomplishment. It's probably just not your distance. You'll get 'em next time!

Scott Dunlap said...

Humbled by a hill - that's worth the journey right there!

willgotthardt said...

Top-10 in that field, on that hill, is no small are an incredibly talented all-around runner with no limits.

Excellent post.

Buzz said...

Thanks for the report. Yup; Mt Wash is one of only three trail/mountain races in the country that is world class. It's the big league, and will surprise people coming from their local successes. And it is a power course, not favoring speed or endurance. Good for you for doing it! You can sleep at night with a top ten.

kitchen table docs said...

Caitlin, way to take on the hill. I'm completely intimidated by it, so am in awe of your accomplishment even through the discouragement of 'better senses'. :) I'm making a documentary about the race and am continually hearing about the mental toughness this race demands. You can check out the progress of the film at
Congrats, again! And continue to enjoy those views!

Zea Wulf said...

Hi Caitlin,
I see that you wore la sportiva trail runners in thee 09 sf nike marathon - can i ask what you think of them and if you'd wear them again for that race? i just got a pair and am not sure if i should train in them for this upcoming race or not? would really like to know what you think of them. thanks. keep up the fast running you are an awesome inspiration :)

trailturtle said...

Sorry to hear that you had problems with the HF. On the other hand, you pushed and did what you could and still finished well...kudos to you for your mental toughness. We should talk about warm-up options sometime. Recover well, Ann

wcaitlin said...

Thanks everyone for the kind remarks. Zea if you want more info regarding shoes send me an email:

Mark Tanaka (Ultrailnakaman) said...

Way to push through the hip pain. Top 10 on a short course, wow!

Helen said...

Nice work on a tough course. And great report. Take care of that hip - it's not easy but take the time to heal it. You are too talented to be running injured.

tri-sportsgirl said...

Hey Caitlin,
It was so great to see you again! I have missed you this year. Hanging with you for a few moments after the race was a huge highlight of my trip out. You are a such an inspiration to me. I wanna be fast and tough like Caitlin! I hope to see you again soon. As always, please let me know anything I can do for you!

Rachel Cieslewicz

aniejoy said...

Nice report and great job. It is always inspiring to read how fellow athletes taken on challenges and 'bad' days. Thanks for writing this. :)