Onto the race.....some would say that it was so hot, the soles of their shoes melted before mile 3 was reached. So how hot was it? Ask around. I was already freaking out on my warm up and hit the first 800m of the course. The auto road was roasting and radiating heat, end of story. I lined up several rows back at the line and greeted friends that I have not seen in a while....Peter Maskimow, Patrick Rich & Derek Sawyer to name a few. The cannon went off and I had to keep form to not run over a female elite who was pin-balling around a few steps into the race. I eased in and quickly noticed a pack surrounding Dave Dunham who I knew was going to ace the run (he went on to run 1:12!). I would have loved to join but had to hang back and hold my end of the bargain (what ever that means).
I saw runners walking in the early miles - Chris Mahoney, Mike Quintal, and Henry Scollard. I asked the latter two to keep me company to get them trotting again. They obliged for as long as they could. I trotted on, hunched over, fighting gravity, while my singlet - soaked - hung far away from my chest. I was honestly not in the mood to do this in the heat but I charged on barely lifting my legs up and ahead. My half way split was 35:39. It did not mean much to me but recall being quicker in the past at this point. Teammates Tim Van Orden, Tim Mahoney, and Dave Quintal were not too far ahead. When ever the grade let up just a bit, I would open my stride and make some ground with anyone who I was following. Above the tree line, the air cooled a bit and the light breeze felt so good. It was welcomed.
I had some back and forth with a few gents but most of the race was a blur. One thing that was constant in the 2nd half was Scott Rowe sprinting by only to have me pass him a minute later while he fell back to a walk. He went on to run a good time too and over a minute ahead of me. Bruce Davie was there in the last mile and was holding form. I tried to keep a step on him knowing only a few minutes remained. Bruce and I were not letting up as we began to approach the steepest part of the race, about 40 yards from the finish. Man did that hurt. All I remember is everyone around yelling for him. I must have looked pretty funny staggering into the finish line. We wound up with the same time of 1:15:14. It was his first Mt. Washington. He mentioned that he would like to come back when I interviewed him hours later. That is what I wanted to hear, that the first timers would be back. I also respect those that said this effort was enough for them. If they were sour on their result, I told them to give it some time before deciding if they want to embark on this in 2011.
In summary, I felt privileged to run up in the 50th anniversary of the race with my team who takes this event pretty serious - evident by 26 open men and masters that were registered. The race must turn away almost 1,000 runners so I was pretty lucky to get in even if relying on my mountain goat status (had to run each of the mountain races in 2009) lottery bypass. I finished 49th overall and 4th in my 35-39 age grouping. My time was in between my quickest (1:13:23 in 2004) and slowest (1:16:03 in 2007). Later Saturday night, I went through Kristen's photos and looked at each person she captured. Heads were down, heads were up. Shirts were soaked. Most had smiles and or gave an acknowledgement of their appreciation while they trotted up the mountain. Getting up this mountain is hard.
Finally, I was able to appreciate something in what was my first in three visits to this race - a 360 degree view from the top of Mount Washington. I wish I had my camera. It was certainly worth those few moments to reflect on what I just done and accomplished. As I said before, this is hard stuff.
The first photo above by Kristen shows why my lower back was sore yesterday. I was barely moving where she was set up beyond 3 miles. She took the photo at an angle so it looks like I am going down hill. The 2nd and 3rd photos taken by Scott Mason give some perspective of the climb as I approached 7.4 miles.