Mt. Cranmore, North Conway, NH
18th Place Overall 54:14
After my first US Championship in 2014, I knew I had to come back for another one. Unfortunately I had to wait three years to come back but I'm so glad I did. I'm even more excited about it because I got the opportunity to make it a 5 day trip, making sure to take in as much of what the White Mountains and the Conway area had to offer.
As far as the race went I feel I had a good build up training wise for the race. I may have been behind the eight ball by a few weeks and missing some more intense workouts in order to prepare more but I was dealing with another sprained ankle issue into mid march. None the less I was able to string together two-three solid 3 week blocks of base mileage building. I was also able to add in quite a bit of vert in order to get ready wether it was on the small hills of Springfield or the treadmill or stairs. Coming from the flatlands I feel I competed quite well against those from CO, UT, PA and other mountain baring states. Training in the Midwest is tough for mountain races but I enjoy the challenge.
The field was rather stacked with many recognizable names testing their hand at qualifying for the US team. Top 4 go to worlds in Italy in late July. I was realistic with my game plan. I knew I wasn't too 4 caliber but I knew I wanted to compete, have fun, and just run a race where I knew I laid it all out there. I also wanted to place better than my previous championships, (31st), be under an hour, and not get chicked. All the above I accomplished.
|Photo Credits: Scott Mason Photography|
The course boasted 2,500 vert ft. of climbing total in the matter of a 10k. Two 5k loops up and down the mountain. The course required you to be quite dynamic in your running. It was a good mix of everything you would picture in a mountain race. I felt strong on the ups but I wasn't completely confident on the downs because of recent ankle issues. I got out in the top 10 in the opening mile and held around 10-15th. The course started on the left side of the mountain and cut across to the right making its way to the steep quarter mile section of 40% gradient that everybody was either looking forward to or dreading. This steep section was followed by some easier switchbacks that led to the top. At the top there was a small cattrack gravel loop and then back down ya go. Once I got to the top I was thinking damnit I gotta do that climb again. I took the downhills very carefully being sure not to get injured. I wanted to run hard downhill and compete but at the same time I wanted to continue to train the next week. Got to the bottom and I felt really good actually. I caught a few runners on my second loop and was able to run most of the steep section and I cruised down to the finish in a sprint. I'm really happy with this race. It makes me even more hungry to come back and do better.
The day after I was able to run up and down Mt. Washington the tallest mountain in the New England area standing at 6,288 ft. I ran the entire 7.5 miles of the auto road to the top climbing 4,700 vert ft. The road is an average 12% grade and never lets off. It was rough but I was like a little kid smiling ear to ear. My legs were tired from the day before but I settled into a decent pace and just chugged along. With every 1,000 ft of climbing the view got better but the temp dropped. I went from peeling layers to putting them back on real quick. By mile 6 my hand were frozen and the wind and cold didn't let up at the top. I was in the clouds and it was misting and cold the last 2 miles. Once I got to the top I was debating on weather I wanted to run down. I knew it would be easier on my legs but by the time I got to the top cars just started to come up. I couldn't find any rides back down so I said screw it, man up, and just run down. So I did and it hurt even more putting the brakes on and controlling my momentum. I knew I was tired going into the run but I still wanted to post a decent effort to compare to past results. I was able to climb in 1:17 and some change which I was thrilled about. I really surprised myself on this effort considering I raced yesterday. Absolutely an unreal experience running to the top. I will definitely have to come back soon for the race to see what I could do.
The weekend was topped off by meeting a lot of new people that I'm sure I'll see soon at future events. I was also able to stay at the Ski Wheelers Ski Clubhouse in North Conway and got to hangout with an awesome group of people for the weekend. Congrats to all who competed and beat wishes on any future endeavors. Till next time.