I have a bracelet that says “Relentless.” I picked it because I like to think of myself as being relentless in the way I pursue my goals and dreams. But sometimes you come up against something that challenges everything you think about yourself.
That was the Mount Washington Auto Road Race. It was relentlessly difficult. I knew it would be hard, but when faced with the unrelenting climb it challenged all my training and everything I thought of myself.
I set some high expectations for myself, thinking I could run my half marathon time or maybe even faster. I was so far off from that and by the second mile abandoned all my preconceived goals for the race and settled on just getting to the top.
The course is all hill, all the time. It never plateaus or lets up. I found that the biggest thing was managing my heart rate. I’d run, my heart rate would climb and then I’d walk a bit. I would push and then have to let up. I think part of that was due to the fact that I started out way to fast, but at times the grade of the road was so steep it was faster to walk than run. It was like a never ending track workout with no recovery: imagine mile repeats, 7 of them with no recovery. Or at least that’s what it felt like.
Here’s what it was like inside my head on race day:
Start Line: This is going to hurt, but be so fun! It’s a gorgeous day. Look you can see the cars driving to the top. Actually don’t look. Don’t look up. Don’t think about the fact that you have to get up there.
Mile 1: I think I can run the whole way. Just keep your stride short. Easy breathing. 9:25 holy sh*t that’s too fast. I’m going to blow up.
Mile 2: Oh boy. This just doesn’t stop. Ok. Just keep going.
Mile 3: I can’t do this. I’m going to hike the whole way. This is ridiculous. I’m a fool for thinking I could run the whole thing.
Mile 4: This is so hard. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. This is harder than a marathon. This is harder than childbirth. I still have so much farther to go.
Mile 5: This is harder than hard. But the view! Holy crap this is amazing. Just look at the view! Just two miles. And then another .6.
Mile 6: Ok. One more mile. You can’t walk the rest of the way, you have to run some. C’mon run. Oh God this is so hard.
Mile 7: Almost there. I just want to see my kids. I just want to be done. This is insane. This is so hard.
.6: Only a little bit left. Oh shit. The wall. I can’t.even.do.this. There’s the finish line! I can do this. Run. Run. Run!
Finish time: 1:49:26
The race was insanely difficult, but the views from the top were spectacular. We hike that mountain every year and there have been only a handful of days where the weather has been as gorgeous as it was this past weekend.
It was hard, but I want to go back. I’d love another crack at the mountain, at better pacing and hopefully a more consistent effort instead of the crash and burn tact I took on Saturday.
It was harder than a marathon, and for me far more gratifying than any marathon I’ve run or PR I’ve achieved.
Check out more amazing race photos from Joe Viger Photography HERE.
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