Monday, July 7, 2014

2014 US Mountain Running Championships

Two weekends ago, while Amber was training like a mad-woman up in Mont Tremblant, I was hanging out with my friends and family playing paintball and going to Brewfest up in Lincoln, NH. This weekend we went back up there for Amber to compete in the US Mountain Running Championships.

While I was at Brewfest, I ran into several people who read this blog which was kind of cool except that I soon realized that I had very little to talk about with them. Here's how one conversation went with one reader and one non-reader:
Reader: Man, so Alaska was awesome huh?
Danny: Yeah I had a blast, the hiking was spectacular and the wildlife amazing and...
Non-reader: Where did you hike?
Danny: Well I did some hiking in Denali and....
Reader: He hiked Mt Healy, Eileson and did the Primrose ridge in Denali and tell her about Mount Marathon.
Danny: Ummm. Mt Marathon was crazy...
Reader: Oh yeah with all that scree, it sounded awful. I can't believe that people race that!
Non-reader:  Did you see any Grizzly bears?
Reader: He saw Grizzlies, caribou, moose, fox, humpback whale, sea lions, puffins, and bald eagles!
Non-reader: Wow it sounds like you had a blast. Enjoy brewfest!
Danny: Thanks. It was nice talking with you.

This seems to happen to me fairly frequently which means that I need to purposefully withhold a few morsels of fun facts that I don't write about in my blog just so I can have actual conversations with people. Therefore when we meet in person we with have something to talk about rather than just recount. For instance, next time you see me ask me how the US mountain running championships went for Amber.

Up Next: Ironman Lake Placid(July 27th-Amber)

Okay! I cannot hold out any longer and I need to talk about Amber's race(that is about the extent of my willpower).  So here's my race report of the US Mountain Running Championships at Loon Mountain:

I met Amber up in Bethlehem Friday evening as she was coming right from a week long camp in Mont Tremblant. While I was proud of myself for an hour run in the morning, Amber had already biked three hours and done a run by the time I met up with her.
Note: I like Amber the most right after she does epic adventures and is tired and hungry. This was no exception. We ended up having two dinners(Thai and Italian) sandwiched between a visit to a brewery, Chutters and a movie(22 Jump Street). Not a bad start to the weekend :)
The next morning we continued the gluttony with a visit to Polly's Pancake Parlor where we topped off our carbohydrate stores.

We then went for a little hike up to Ripley Falls which we had always avoided because it was too short. Not for Amber that day. She kept on lagging behind and needing rest breaks. And she is going to do a five mile race up a mountain the next day?!!!
After the hike, we went to the river where we proceeded to sleep on the rocks(did I mention how much I love spending time with Amber when she has totally depleted her energy stores?), and jump in the water.
Then it was time for more food. Bailiwicks in Littleton for lunch, Chutters for a top-off of our candy needs, and then back to the Italian restaurant for dinner.
Amber and our friend Brian Lavoie before race start
When the alarm went off a 5am the next morning, I was jarred back to reality. No more sleeping in. Time for Amber's race. After a quick stop at White Mountain Bagel for a breakfast sandwich and coffee, we made it to Loon Mountain around 6:30 and the parking lot was already full. We saw a lot of our racing friends as well as some elite runners from out west. Amber said that she would be happy with a top ten finish with a field so deep.
As predicted by the fast field, the race took off FAST! I think the girls were running sub 5:30's for the first half mile and Amber went through the first mile(which included a sizable hill) around 6:15-and was probably in 25th place! So much for a mountain run. However, it did start to rise significantly which did thin the herd a bit. Amber was 10-15th when I saw her again about 2 miles into it looking strong on the uphills, only to get passed on every descent.
Photo #1
Photo #2
The two pictures above are a perfect example of how it went down for Amber for the first half of the race. As you can see from evidence #1, Amber is descending with no one in sight. Moments later, she gets passed by 3-4 girls. In photo #2 you can see her make her way to catch back up to them.
I was certainly glad I had rested all weekend because it was quite the challenge to run to each spot to cheer Amber on. I actually missed her at a few spots because she was going too fast. I was able to get to the summit before her and was able to see her make up huge ground on the girl ahead of her, only to fall short by 3 seconds. Still, she finished with a strong 8th place finish which is really quite remarkable when you consider what she did as a "taper".
Upper Walking Boss to the finish
After taking the gondola back down to the summit, we were able to cheer on the men's start before heading over to the river to cool down. After much peer-pressure, Amber got me to jump off the cliffs into the cold water. It was a wonderful end to a fun weekend.

If you look closely you can see a little river rat

 Congrats to everyone who raced Loon as it was certainly quite the challenge and don't forget to tune in to watch Amber kick butt at Ironman Lake Placid on July 27th.

Oh yeah, and next time you see me, I'll try to talk about something that I haven't already mentioned in this blog ;)

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