Monday, March 8, 2010

Me and Mt. Washington

Me and Mt. Washington, we have a history. My first experience with Mt Washington was driving to the top with my family. I remember it well. It seemed exciting at first, but then we were above the tree line and it wasn't so fun anymore. I am afraid of heights. I was sure we were going to go off the road and our mini-van was going to roll and roll and roll and take me to my death. No, I'm not exaggerating. I unfortunately had the same experience years earlier driving in Rocky Mountain National Park. We finally made it to the top and was relieved to be out of the vehicle! We walked around and did our thing. But then, I knew I had to get back in the vehicle to drive back down. I can't do this! I ended up laying flat in the back of the van so I couldn't see out the windows. As I'm laying there I'm thinking ... I'm never doing this again.

2007, I decide to put my name in the Mt Washington Road Race lottery. I thought any "true" runner should have this on their resume. 7.6 miles, 6288 feet in elevation, 11.5% average grade. That sounds fun, right?

When the list came out my name was on it. Wow. I really have to run up that mountain now. Gulp. I wasn't sure how to train. I did a lot of hill repeats and continuous uphill runs on the treadmill. I didn't do it right. It did not prepare me for the race. I was told that my finish time for the 7.6 miles should be equal to my half marathon time; or at least close. I thought I would finish around 1:40. Final time was 1:49. not even close. I can't even tell you how hard this race was for me. It was a very warm day and the skies were clear. Every time I looked up all I could see was the road ahead of me winding upward with no end. When I finally reached the top and crossed the line I just lost it. A nice volunteer put a medal around my neck and I walked off by myself in tears. It was that feeling of complete and utter exhaustion. I said to myself ... I will never do this again.

2008, I sign up for the Ski to the Clouds. This is advertised at the "North America's Toughest 10K."

I can't ski. Seriously. This is only my second winter of Nordic skiing and I'm not good. I mean I'm really not good! I'm still not sure why I signed up. I show up the day before the race and pick up my bib. The nice lady asks if I have packed my warm clothes bag. I say no, I'm not sure what to put in it. She says well, you probably need an extra top layer and maybe dry gloves to stay warm while you ski down. Uh..... WHAT???? I say, we have to ski down? She asks if that is a problem and I say no. Remember my fear of heights earlier? Yeah, skiing downhill is kind of like driving down for me. I have no doubt that I will fall to my death. I guess I'll worry about that later.

So, race morning comes and I have no idea what I'm doing. I warm up a little and try not to get nervous. My goal: to finish and not come in dead last. Some goal huh? Well, this was realistic. The race starts and we ski 4K through the trails and then we turn to ski 6K straight up the auto road. I never thought I was going to finish. I was having flashbacks to when I ran up! The faster skiers who had finished were skiing down and yelling nice job ... you're doing great... etc. Wow, I was a back of the packer. I know I'm getting close to the finish and I see this guy with a radio. I could tell he was reporting back to the finish line. I asked him, how far? He answers a half mile. Then I ask, am I last? He says no, there is one guy behind you. OMG, I wasn't last! I reach the finish which is two women with a stopwatch, the snow cat parked on the side of the road with my warm clothes and some water. No people. No other skiers. That was it. I put on my clothes, grabbed some water, and headed down. All I'm going to say is that I think it took me just as long to ski down as it did to ski up. Get the picture? When I arrived at the lodge the award ceremony was over and almost everyone was gone. I did look at the results. There was one sixty something year old man that finished behind me, but I was the last female. I packed up my stuff and headed back to my friends house to shower. When I walked in I said ... I will never do this again!

Are you seeing the pattern here?

Well, I just put my name in the lottery for the 2010 Mt Washington Road Race. Do I ever learn? Stayed tuned to see if I get in ...


Mary IronMatron said...

I love that you signed up again! Awesome! I hope you get in... I still need that one on my run resume, but it scares the piss out of me!

MaineSport said...

Nice efforts! One of these days I'll do Mt/ Washington, but with sneakers on- not XC skis. There's no way I'll ski down that road without edges.

Bob Turner said...

Talked me into it. I'm in too. Keep your fingers crossed and we'll run that rock pile together!


BTW...I've never ever been up there.... :)

kitchen table docs said...

Hi Robin,
I'm making a documentary film about the Mt Washington Road Race and wonder if you'd like to be a part of it.. please give me a shout at kitchentabledocs [at] gmail [dot] com
Hope you get in! good luck!

Ange said... cool that yo uwere just asked to be on a documentary!!! Robin I am SO impressed!! I am terribly terribly afraid of heights too. Scared to death. I have driven up Mt Washington (sis in law used to run that a lot)and I've driven over mtn passes out west...nearly died of fear. I am doing MTLemmon in 2 weeks and totally scared @ coming down. So I feel for ya...and I can NOT imagine skiing Down! HOw did you do that???
I hope you get in for the road race! You are so damn tough.