Mountain Running=an adventure in the Winter Wild Mountains of New England
The Winter Wild Mountain Running Series kicked off last weekend at Wachusett Mountain in Massachusetts. I absolutely love this mountain running series because it is a totally unique race adventure.
The races all begin early in the morning at ski areas before the lifts open and the skiers and snowboards hit the slopes. You can pick your mode of transport up (and down the mountain). For me the choice is easy–Kahtoola MICROspikes and my trusty Broooks Adrenaline GTS. For my friend Meghan, a powerhouse on skate skis will be seen racing up and speeding down the mountain on her skinny nordic skis with ease. Racers in the “Heavy Metal” category can be seen on the mountain in snowshoes, or skinning up and skiing down, or hiking up and snowboarding down. The races are a mass start of crazed athletes seeking the early morning endorphin rush to kick off the day.
I did not feel as warmed up as I could have been at the race last week and felt sluggish at the start. Tomorrow morning I plan to go for a longer warm-up to get my muscles warm and my breathing adjusted to the colder temperatures. I am also going to focus more on using my upper body to help propel me up the mountain. I feel as though I did not utilize the strength in my arms to help when running (and hiking) up the mountain. One of my goals for the series is to improve my up-mountain running (which will also have the added-bonus of building muscle strength).
The run down the mountain was a different story. At the summit I refocused my energy and began the descent. The snow was perfect! A snowy corduroy runway! I have learned that to be a better downhill runner you have to allow gravity to do the work. It is very easy to waste a lot of energy on the way down by slowing yourself down each time your foot-strikes the snow. I allowed my strides to lengthen and tried to stay relaxed. I was thankful for the strong footing provided by my MICROspikes. I was proud of my strong finish on the downhill. I worked hard to catch another woman racer on the way down(who I later discovered was a fellow Colby College Class of ’99 Alum!). As I raced into the finish I had two fast men on my tail (one of whom was wearing a kilt). I did NOT want to get passed by them and pushed hard through the soft snow at the bottom through the finish line.
The energy of all of the racers was high at the finish with a lot of smiles (perhaps from simply being finished) from the awesome Winter Wild race Adventure. I can’t wait to go back for more this weekend as the series continues at Suicide 6 Ski Resort in picturesque Woodstock Vermont. Plus, now I have to defend my third place finish in my age group (30-39) from the Wachusett Mountain Race!
Here is the course map for tomorrow mornings mountain running adventure. This time the distance of the race is 3.0 Miles which means two laps of the mountain! Wish me luck!
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