Monday, June 29, 2009

Kissing Cranmore Mountain

As the bottom of my heels burned up sprinting down Cranmore Mountain, I was wishing for something flat to give my quads rest. I fought gravity up and down the mountain yesterday. I just wanted to let the heels cool down. I expected a bloody mess when I pulled the footware off minutes after finishing the race and cooling off in the cool stream 100 yards from the finish line. Todd Callaghan praised the benefits of the cold water. I washed the Cranmore earth off my legs, proud to have survived the event. I was reticent before the race but I had an objective of putting a demon to rest.

One hour of punishment. Punishment that I neglected to tolerate three years ago at Cranmore for three fun loops up and down. Yesterday was only two loops that Paul Kirsch put up for the National Championship where the top three men and women would be selected for the US team to compete at the World Championship.

I gave some honest advice to a runner on my way into the 2nd lap yesterday heading into the second loop as he was dropping out and walking toward me and back to end his journey prematurely. I yelled at him and told him not to drop out, he'll regret it. I turned back to look at him and made sure he followed back onto the course. I told him to walk it out, just finish it up. The guy in front of me looked back at me thinking I was crazy for yelling at a competitor to get his ass back in the race. The beaten runner got back in the race.

I looked forward, following my advice to just finish and did not care how many steps running, walking or crawling it took. I just looked forward to getting the race over with. I was not so much a competitor as I was a participant making the best of a situation of gravity and a ass kicking contest against Cranmore Mountain. Cranmore Mountain got the best of me. I will get back there next year. Yeah, I am getting fitted for a straight jacket too. No surprise there.

Learned a few things yesterday or at least it caught my attention I had time to think during the race....

1. Walking up steep sections is acceptable. Elite runners of both sexes around me were walking or maybe it is called power-hiking? Damn, some folks were pulling away from me as I got no where trying to run or slip on lichen covered rock. It looks silly kissing the ground, leaning on the knees, but power hiking seems to work.

2. Small, petite, woman kick ass at this mountain stuff. They just shuffle up the steep sections with tiny strides. I feel like a heavy ape with a dumb stride. The 'running form police' tried to pull me off the course at the top but they wanted me to burn up my heels running down the mountain. I appreciate that.

3. These mountain runners are incredible. I don't know how they can tolerate the pain of climbing, straining the lower back, calves, and quads. I can tolerate it for short periods of time, but I relent.

4. Running up against gravity is one thing. Running down at break-neck speed is another and quite hard on the legs and body as I was reminded this morning. Glad that I still have the skin intact on my heels (for now).

5. My attitude changed while going up in the second lap. I chatted it up with Kristen and Joe as I stumbled past them in a climb. There was some funny dialogue, R-rated comments and questioning of my sanity. It helped me cope. I'll have to get the clip up here. In summary, I was trying to use humor to get through the next twenty minutes.

6. I usually like to race down-hill with the best of them. But my burning heels were telling me otherwise. It is humbling to step aside and run in the tall grass to try to slow down and let people pass without much care. I tried to alter my stride or run on my toes flying down the hill to ease the slippage in the New Balance 790's.

7. The transition game of a burning ascent onto something flat is comical. I was reminded of the duathlon event from getting off a bike and into a run. The lactic acid build up and release makes jello of one's legs for a bit.

It's not all piss and vinegar though. I had a great weekend. Joe Shairs and family let Kristen and I crash at their condo in Bartlett the night before the race, sparing me a 2.5 hour drive on Sunday morning. We had a great dinner on Saturday and capped it off with a 2 hour documentary and history on the Boston Bruins. Milt Schmidt, Bobby Orr, Ray Bourque, and Cam Neely!

Here is a picture of me walking or something past Kristen. No doubt cursing, mumbling, and thinking about another hobby.

Lap 1 took me 29:10 and Lap 2 took me 31:04. Unofficial time which was stopped in the finish line chute was 1:00:14. Kristen's movie clip of my hobbling finish into the time clock was 1:00:12. Here is Joe and Kristen yelling at me on the 2nd lap. Finally, please take a look at Scott Mason's photos. He took a lot of nice shots and captured the moments of the race.

Loon Mountain is next Sunday folks. It's a cool race that has a famous section of calf and quad burn depending on the stride. Better yet, it has some down hill in there to mix it up a bit and provide relief from ascending.


  1. Great story! Glad you got those demons out.

  2. Me too. Nice run'n out there Dave.