These are a few of my favorite things and last weekend I got to combine all of them into three amazing days in the Green Mountains of Vermont.
Under Armour Mountain Series at Killington
We kicked off the weekend at Killington Mountain for the Under Armour Mountain Series. As much as I loved running in Colorado at Copper Mountain, I love that this series basically comes to this area and highlights true “beast coast” running. Plus it gave me a chance to connect with some of the amazing friends I’ve made through running.
The mountain was a perfect backdrop for some quality time with just my boys. I had the opportunity to travel to Arizona and the Grand Canyon with just my daughter this summer, so it was fun to just have some time with the boys. It’s amazing how their little personalities shine a bit more when they get that one-on-one time.
On Saturday I woke early and slipped as quietly as possible out of the room to head to the base of Killington to meet up with Crystal (we were running the 5K together) and wish Allie and Sandra good luck in the 10K.
After sending off the 25K and 10K runners, Crystal and I lined up for our “race.” It was fun to run the course at a relaxed pace, chatting and encouraging other runners along the way.
As we came down the finish chute, the announcer tried to egg us on to race each other and we just laughed; with Crystal coming of Squamish 50/50 and me racing the next day there was no way we were going to sprint to the finish.
There’s still time to get in on the fun at Mt. Bachelor! The final race in the series. You can get 20% off with code RISERUN20.
Race to the Top of Vermont
Sunday we woke early to wind our way over to Mt. Mansfield, the highest peak in Vermont for the “real” race of the weekend: Race to the Top of Vermont. My goal was to run hard and hopefully do well. I’ve never run this race before so I didn’t have any expectations. I wanted to stay open to potentially surprising myself with something amazing, but I also didn’t want to have outlandish expectations beyond where I’m at right now.
As the crow flies, Mt. Mansfield isn’t too far from Killington but we had to meander our way down twisting and turning Vermont Roads to get to there. When we arrived I made quick work of packet, pick-up, the warm-up, my pre-race nutrition (EndureElite and a Spring Energy “Hill Aid” packet…I loved the name, how appropriate right?). I finished off with a kiss to my boys and hubby and made my way to the start.
Race to the Top of Vermont runs 4.3 miles up the gravel toll road to the top of Mt. Mansfield it gains 2500+ feet in those 4 miles with grades that seems quite similar to Mt. Washington. I knew that my body would find a rhythm. That’s what I like about these hill climbs: I get into gear and grind.
My goal for this race was to push the edge of what I thought I was capable of and really push the discomfort threshold.
To focus on this I opted not to wear a watch again so that I wouldn’t be distracted by pacing, I also feel like not having that watch really helps me in the first mile to trust my body.
I seeded myself near the front, but not on the front of the line so that I wouldn’t go out to fast. I settled into a good rhythm and found myself in 6th place spot through the first mile. I was constantly asking myself, Could you push a little more? and when the grade flattened a bit, I’d quicken my turn over and push the pace. I loved how I felt like I was recovering while still running at an inline, it’s amazing how your body can adapt! Around the halfway mark a woman passed me and I encouraged her, telling her “nice work!”
I found myself with a pack of guys and we all seemed to be running the same pace. I kept trading places with another runner who when I slowed a bit he picked up the pace and then when I picked up the pace he slowed. At the end we thanked each other for helping push each other up the mountain-one of the things I love about the running community and the mutual respect and camaraderie.
As we approached the three mile mark I found myself power hiking a few of the switchbacks. My heart rate would come down a bit and then I’d push to a run again.
It felt very similar to Mt. Washington, but because of the shorter distance I felt like I was pushing a bit more to the edge of discomfort. With about a mile to go I started closing in on the 6th place woman and felt like I could catch her. She was about 20 seconds up, but each time we turned a corner and I lost sight of her I had a hard time maintaining that “reel her in” mentality. As we approached the 4 mile mark with just .3 to go she increased her lead to where she felt just out of reach (she finished 40 seconds ahead of me).
I pushed around the final turn and charged into the finish with what I had left finishing in 7th female in a time of 49:30. I averaged 11:30 min/mi for the 4.3 miles which, even though the average grade is 11% instead of the 12% of Mt. Washington, was 30 seconds faster per mile than my average up Mt. Washington (12:05 min/mi). What I love most about my results is that I also finished FIRST in the 30-39 age category; half the women in front of me were older than me which I take a s a great sign that my fastest days are ahead of me!
After finishing I took a moment to explore the summit and then started running back down. I opted to come down the mountain via a ski run as suggested by one of the volunteers. The run, called, “Nosedive” offered breathtaking views of the Green Mountains and some really, really steep descents. I took it easy coming down and soaked up the beautiful day and the stunning view.
We had to hustle back home after the race for a family BBQ, so I wasn’t able to stay for the awards and stand on the actual podium. So the boys and I had a little awards moment on a few tree stumps.
So far this year racing in the Green Mountains has been good to me! Can’t wait to be back.