Challenging myself racing up a mountain–It’s Winter Wild!
The Winter Wild Series Championship at Bretton Woods Ski Resort (NH) definitely rounded out the winter mountain running series with a bang. I woke up on race day to a surprisingly gorgeous, fluffy, 6 inches of fresh powder just outside my doorstep. Ironically being the closest race to home this was the slowest drive due to the star wars like snowflakes coming directly at the windshield as we headed to the mountain. I picked up my friend Bridget (Series Champion Age Group 30-39 and most awesome training partner) and we were both geared up to conquer the mountain.
This would be the 7th mountain course that we would tackle together this winter. This seems like an awesome feat especially since these races all take place in the wee hours of the morning in the middle of frozen New Hampshire winter. The community of racers had developed an excellent camaraderie over the course of the series joining together on the morning of the race with wide smiles and energized excitement.
After determining how many layers to wear (and of course being the day before St. Paddy’s Day I was decked out in all green, even my Skirt Sports running skirt), and putting my MICROspikes on over my new favorite trail shoe (the Montrail Mountain Masochist–Appropriately named don’t you think!) Bridget and I headed out to check out the snow and to warm-up. While the fresh powder may seem great for the skiers and snowboarders it added an additional challenge for the runners. The trick was to find the best surface to gain the most solid traction. We ran up the narrow snow mobile path carved in the sweet powder meeting fellow runner Brandon Baker on the trail. We all agreed that running in the untouched powder actually seemed to be less slippery and offer more purchase than the groomed section of trail.
After a nice warm-up to get the blood pumping and the breathing going we headed to the starting line to find our friendly competitors. I absolutely love the energy at the start of these races, all racers counting down to the start in unison wearing spikes (like something out of medieval times), with boards strapped to their backs and feet (snowboards and skis). As soon as the race starts an extreme quiet falls over the field of runners. The only sounds to be heard for the trek up the slope are the sounds of breathing and crunching, and the shushing of skis. The climb is more gradual than some of the races have been but goes on for TWO MILES! I quickly move over into a corridor of soft powder parallel to the groomed corduroy (skiers delight). I focus on my own strength. I use my legs and remind myself of all of the work on the mountains and on tough runs through the winter that have built my quads, hamstrings and calves for power. I use my upper-body to find a rhythm and propel myself up. I focus on my breathing working to use calm power as I challenge myself to keep up with the other runners. The field is strong and the women in the front of the pack work in a tight group to challenge each other. The determination is incredible. Each runner/racer works through their own challenges trading places with strategic passes all the way to the top. It is beautiful on the mountain. A moment to capture in your mind.
Reaching the top is exhilarating and the sweat now dripping is a reward for the effort of the climb. I round the corner with an amazing female competitor just on my heels. On the way down my feet disappear into clouds of powder. Each footfall has a soft landing. You feel like you are gliding almost flying. The kid inside of me lets go and I run with a crazy smile and determination (one minor setback on the way down, a shoelace becomes untied–I worry that my shoe may fly off but run harder anyways). As I close in towards the finish line I hear Bridget and Amy cheering and glimpse the pink jacket of awesome runner Sarah out of the corner of my eye. I passed her on the way up but could not hold her off into the finish line. I finish in a time of 41:15 for a 4.25 mile mountain course. I am thrilled and the endorphins are rushing.
The Winter Wild Series ends for the year at Bretton Woods and I find myself finishing as 2nd Woman Overall in My Age Group 30-39. What an amazing experience to be a part of. This race series has helped me not only to fine tune my body with some super intense speed-work but also to fine tune my mind for the season ahead of challenging races. I am stronger and I have mental toughness and motivation to get out and go for it–Boston Marathon here I come! I challenge you like I challenged the mountains all winter long!
A big thank you to Chad Denning of Team Amp for putting on the amazing Winter Wild Race Series and also to acidoticRACING for hosting the series championship! Congratulations to all of the racers for an amazing series. I hope you had as much crazy winter wild fun as I did!
I can’t wait to see you all out on the trails and in the mountains this spring and summer!
Where the Wild Things Are-Outdoor Mom
Winter Wild Course Preview-Irongirl and Ultrarunning Boy
Winter Wild at Suicide 6-Photos by Nanci
2013 Winter Wild Championship-snapACIDOTIC