I had a great time at this year's 30th anniversary Mountain Masochist! The new course changes mean more single track and less pavement. For those unfamiliar with the course, over half the terrain is trail that could be driven over with an ATV or a jeep. It's dirt, but it's wide, hard packed and full of smallish rocks. The scenery out there in the blue ridge mountains is beautiful, the hills are mostly runnable and the weather is generally on the cool end of mild.
This year the weather was colder and most of the second half of the course was under a foot or more of snow due to Hurricane Sandy. The snow slowed the whole race way down and even led to a half hour extension of the usual twelve hour cut off time. For me the snow meant a whole lot of fun and, I think, a competitive edge even though running fast down the mountain led to a slide out into a knee deep drift and a little bit of a bounce off a tree. The snow made me feel happy to be alive and the 35 degree temperatures in the late race kept me moving fast to stay warm. The longer I run the more I realize how much I enjoy unpredictable and technical trail. I'm not sure whether I'm truly any more agile than other runners around me or whether I just run better happy and I don't care.
The highest point in the race and a new addition to the course the year is a lookout at the top of a short out and back that gives a view of the Blue Ridge Mountains that's the best I've ever seen. I got up there and just stopped. Not for long since I knew from the out and back nature of that section that there were three women not far ahead of me, but still I looked long enough that I've got a picture of it still set in my mind. That said, I did capitalize on the down hill to catch those three women and I managed to keep ahead all the way to the end.
I finished 8th in the women's field and 11 minutes slower than last year but for me, I won my race. I didn't make nutritional errors and I didn't make pacing errors. I ran the best race I could have run on that day. I've finished first before and not felt this good. Place is just a matter of who shows up that day. Knowing I ran my own best race? For me that's the real prize I'm looking for.
But Lee, don't you wish you could have won? Don't you wish you were faster? Heck yeah I do!! I have a plan. I will be training this winter and I will be faster in spring. Will I share my training plan? You bet I will. I will post my training plan shortly.
Oh, and I won a sword! Mountain Masochist has a bench press contest at the finish line for finishers. I did the most reps at 65 pounds (the women's weight), winning the 'Iron Horse' award, which is a short sword with a plaque on it. For the curious, I managed 47 reps. Yes, yes I do strength train, though only an hour or so a week. I will post my strength training routine on this blog soon for the curious.