On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mt. Washington: some details

First, the facts.

Now, some logistics.
One of the hardest parts of the race is getting back down afterwards.  We run up the auto road, meaning that the hiking trail/cog railroad is clear on the other side of the mountain (and thus inaccessible).  To get back down, you need to be in a car.  Problem is, that gets really congested, really fast.  How they handle it is through strict rules that allow certain drivers to go up for free, as long as they're carrying multiple runners back down with them.  The fees are not out of control but they are expensive if you haven't planned properly.  This creates a hodge-podgey mishmash of runners all trying to arrange rides.  Thankfully, the internet has made it fairly easy, and I got hooked up with two other runners pretty early on.

The next biggest logistical problem is the weather.  It's typically nice and comfortable June-in-New Hampshire weather at the start, but then the finish is on top of a mountain where it can often be freezing, with winds easily up to 35-40mph.  So it will be getting progressively colder, forcing you to do a reverse of what most races involve (putting clothes ON as you go through the race).  Of course you can also always have warm clothes waiting in your car.  My plan is to watch the weather and to bring arm warmers and an ear covering.  I'm going to be on the slower end, so I can't count on my body staying fully warm through running.  So far I've been watching the weather carefully.  This site has some neat diagrams that have made it easy to track - but hard to predict.  Or WAY more data here.

Finally, my preparation.
Truthfully, this is the embarrassing part.  I've been so proud of myself over the past few months, getting to the point where I could comfortably run longer distances and at times that I'm not ashamed of, that I've neglected hills almost entirely.  I did a few hill workouts on the treadmill, just enough to realize that I can probably walk up it without being pulled off the course, and then promptly concentrated on other things instead.  This will be to my disadvantage (and possible downfall) come Saturday.  Two days ago I did what will be my last workout before the race, and I realized something that scared me: at a 9% incline, I can walk for hours at a reasonable pace.  At a 12% incline, I suffer.  Bad.

Ah, well.  We'll see how it goes.


  1. Good luck!! Will send positive vibes your way and I won't complain on any hills that I might encounter this weekend.

  2. Have fun, Tracy. Nothing easy about this one.

  3. Thanks, you guys... I'm really nervous about it. Someone told me that it's "easy to finish, hard to do well." I always get stupid "I won't finish this race!" nerves, but this time it seems warranted. We'll see how it all goes down (or rather, up) come Saturday.

  4. It's a race and it's important to you. You will do fine. Remember -- relentless forward motion.

    Rock it, Tracy.