The day was picture perfect for a Loon Mountain Race training run. Bridget and I set out for the mountain early on Sunday morning after an energizing night of laughter with friends the night before. We met another Pete and Gerry’s Organic Chick, Tricia at the base of the mountain. We were decked out in a rainbow array of Skirt Sports running skirts, ready to challenge the mountain in style, ready to show off our “evil legs.”
The plan was to run the course for the race before race day to get an idea about the difficulty of the trail which Acidotic Racing boasts features climbs with 40 PERCENT!!!! grade! As we headed up the mountain Bridget shared her hand drawn map of the course which we promptly lost as we headed out through the thick mountain grasses.
We ended up blazing our own trail on the way up. We enjoyed the scenic vistas along the way and the nice cool early morning breeze that kept our sweat at bay. On the way up we talked about mountain running form and how to not waste energy on the long trek up. Using great advice from Coach Goode of The Sustainable Athlete I focused on keeping my strides shorter and quicker while keeping my body upright. I have a bad habit of trying to muscle my way through uphill climbs rather than focusing on form and pace. This can be the kiss of death resulting in burning up too much energy to early on in the race. It is amazing how much we are able to learn from each other as runners as we challenge each other in different ways. We also talked a lot about the importance of going outside of your comfort zone in order to find success. Whether it be in math class, at a new job, or on the race course it is important to find your point of disequilibrium and then to face it head on. By challenging our comfort zones we are more apt to find our inner strength and to be able to use it as an advantage.
When we got to the top of the Gondola we discovered a playground so of course had to take a mini-break from our run for a little bit of playtime. Then Tricia bid us farewell and opted to hop on the Gondola for the ride back to the bottom.
Bridget and I decided to continue on our adventure. We needed to run for approximately another 2 hours but first took a mini-detour at the Loon Mountain Glacial Caves which in addition to squeezing our way through giant boulder crevasses included some stair running (hello quads and hamstrings!)
After our little detours to please our inner-children we got back down to business and headed up the north peak to the point where the race will finish on Sunday. The view from the top was absolutely breathtaking. You could see for miles and the mountain side was covered in daisies, periwinkles, orange and purple wildflowers and the sweetest, most jewel-like wild mountain strawberries. At this point in the run the sweetness of the tiny berries was a welcome treat.
We descended down Upper Walking Boss which was in reverse of the race course. The run down was exhilarating. The scenery definitely distracted from the increasingly fatigued legs. On the way down we ran as the we were carving turns down snow covered loon mountain, traversing the hillside back and forth in a gentle rhythm.
Our mountain adventure continued over to the south peak which required quite a bit more bushwhacking through tall allergy inducing grasses (My legs were covered in hives when we finished) with much trickier footing. There were a lot of rocks and deceptive footing which included holes hiding under wild flowers. We did not get to enjoy the luxury of weaving back and for the across the mountain side at this point. The grass came up to Bridget’s waist! My hamstrings and quads were definitely whimpering by the time we reached the bottom and we were looking for the escape route!
When Bridget and I finally returned to the car drenched in sweat but full of smiles we decided to end our running adventure with a cool dip in the Pemigewasset River flowing at the bottom of the mountain. The water was perfect for a post run “ice” bath for our tired legs. We opted for a shallow pool of water not in the direct river flow as the perfect spot for a refreshing post-run swim. Nanook (Bridget’s Husky and our awesome running companion ran right in and lay down in the fresh mountain water).
Now, it’s time to do some mental preparation and get out there and enjoy the Loon Mountain Race! Oh and as an added bonus I now have the chance to win some of our very own Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs at the end of the race!
Have you ever raced up a mountain before? I’d love to hear about it!
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