Category Archives: Races

How to Train for the Mount Washington Road Race

Mount Washington Road Race - How do you train for 'only' one hill happyfitmama.com

To answer the question – I have no idea!

When I learned last week that I was chosen from the lottery to run the Mount Washington Road Race in June, my first thought was – Holy Sh!t!!! And my second thought was – how do I train for this?

Obviously, hills, hills, hills and then some more marvelous hills. But since I don’t have the luxury of having a hill that is 7.6 miles long to do training runs on regularly, what are my options? After asking friends who have run it in previous years and searching for training tips online, here’s what my plan for the next 11 weeks is going to involve.

Treadmill

I don’t absolutely hate the treadmill but I don’t love it either. With the really nice spring weather here and more coming, I was looking forward to running outside all the time. But according to friends (like Jen who will be running it again this year!), the treadmill is your best bet to mimic the continuous uphill training you need. With a gain of 4,727 feet in elevation (average elevation of 12% and the last portion at the summit 22%), doing short hill repeats will do nothing for you. You want specificity with training and the treadmill is my best bet.

Last week I did 2 x 1600 @6%/7% at easy pace as part of my 6 mile run. It kicked my butt. It definitely was eye opening that I need to not only work on total leg strength but my back as well.

Trail Running

I’m fortunate to live within a 45 minute drive or less of some trails with upness. Since I’m not the most sure-footed person, I don’t want anything super technical but I need the elevation. According to my friend Tony, there’s an awesome 1 mile stretch of road near Gunstock Mountain that leads to a trail that is an average 15.8% grade. Sounds like just the torturous fun I’m looking for! Mt. Aggie in Maine is another option.

How to train for the Mount Washington Road Race? Good question! Here's what I'm hoping works. | happyfitmama.com

Run Easy

Of course I won’t (or can’t) run hill specific workouts every single run. I’ll have easy paced runs mixed in. However, I’ll make it a point to not shy away from hillier routes. Like my friend Sarah says, #EmbraceTheHill. As someone who really isn’t a fan of hills, this should change my perspective, right?

Strength Training/PT Exercises/Core

Now is definitely NOT the time to slack on my strengthening exercises. A strong core is essential. And continue to condition my lower legs with eccentric calf raises and balance exercises.

Other tips that I have learned:

  • Expect to finish around your half marathon time.
  • You will walk. Lots. Get comfortable with a run/walk method.
  • Practice walking backwards to give your back and the front of your legs a break. And you can take in the view!
  • The temperature will change over the course of the race (average 30 degrees difference from base to summit). Tuck gloves in your shorts and over pack your bag at the summit. You will want ALL of the warm gear.
  • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the wind and the dust during the gravel sections.

I’m nervous and excited all at the same time. This is going to hurt. A LOT. But it’s such a unique race that it’s going to be all worth it.

11 weeks to go!

Hills – love ’em or hate ’em?

What’s the highest incline you’ve ever run on the treadmill?

Saucony 26 Strong : Chicago Marathon

Saucony 26 Strong Chicago Team | happyfitmama.com

I’m back to reality after an incredible time in Chicago over the weekend with the Saucony 26 Strong crew.

Again, I’m kind of at a loss for words. I’ve had two amazing weekends (Rise.Run.Retreat. was the weekend before) in a row filled with powerful women, new friendships and inspiring moments. I can not believe the doors that have opened all because I love this crazy sport called running.

While I would have loved for this to be a race recap, it’s more like a spectating recap. Things on the other side of the course are just as tough!

Saturday morning the whole team finally got together. It was great to reconnect with some of the other coaches from Honolulu, the teams that were in San Diego as well as meeting the new ones. I’m still amazed at how you can know someone from social media yet when you meet in person for the first time, it’s like you are old friends.

We took team photos and then did a short shake out run. And yes –  I ran!!!

Shake out run Saucony 26 Strong | happyfitmama.com

It felt so amazing! I think I exclaimed those very same words to Morganne and Kendall at least 10 times.

Afterwards, we had a team breakfast and words of wisdom from Sharon Barbano, Saucony’s Vice President of Public Relations.

Saucony 26 Strong - Sharon  happyfitmama.com

Her words spoke to me. Big time. There were chills. There were tears. Sharon is one of those people that looks you straight in the eye and can motivate you to do anything. You know she threw in a few #FindYourStrong moments too.

After cleaning up, I headed to the expo. It’s always fun to see all the gear and just feel the excitement of the upcoming race. And I didn’t have to worry about having tired feet either!

Chicago Marathon Steps  happyfitmama.com

Sunday morning – race day!

Saucony 26 Strong and the Bean  happyfitmama.comPit stop at The Bean before wishing the ladies GOOD LUCK! and heading off to mile 8 on the course.

But first let’s take a bathroom mirror selfie.

Saucony 26 Strong Sherpa Selife | happyfitmama.com

Grayson, Lindsey, Allison, Erin (not pictured above) and I were on Sherpa Crew duties. Behind every runner is a crew, right?

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We had to make a fast get away to make it for Lindsey and Allison’s live news broadcast.

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Go Deena!

Deena Castor Chicago Marathon  happyfitmama.com

Before I knew it, Erin and I were up. I don’t know if I was shaking more from the cold or nerves!

Saucony 26 Strong ABC 7 News Broadcast | happyfitmama.com

Live TV is hard! Especially when the questions that you prepare for weren’t asked, there’s sirens going off all around you. Not too mention cowbells, cheering and clapping. Oh and that little earpiece thing is full of static! But it was also a ton of fun. And I said camaraderie without getting tongue tied – BOOM!

Next stop was mile 23. We saw Kat and  Lauren cruise by looking great.

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We were expecting Bridget and Olivia (Lindsey’s cadet) soon after based on their splits. Since Lindsey is injured, I volunteered to jump in and run with the girls for a short bit to check in. Bridget came cruising by all smiles, looking fantastic. But Olivia wasn’t with her. I decided to let Bridget go and wait for Olivia. She soon arrived. She was tired but had a laser beam focus to keep trucking. I wanted to run with her some more but we needed to hop on the train to make it to the finish. BTW – Olivia finished in 3:59:59 – how awesome is that?!?

I wish I had more pics to share but my phone was dying and I still needed it to help coordinate with the Saucony and Competitor people. The finishing area was crazy especially when you are trying to coral multiple people to one spot. My eyes were glazed over by the end of the day after looking at hundreds and hundreds of runners funnel through the finishing area. Spectating is HARD work!

Going into the weekend, there were a lot of emotions. It was another race that I was supposed to be running. Another DNS. Even before I was asked to be a part of 26 Strong this year, I had my sights on Chicago.

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Even though I am on my way back to running now, I’ve still got fear and doubt in where my running life is going. Of course I say I just want to run again. But really, I want to see what I can do. I want PR’s. I want new distances to cover. Basically, I want to see what I’m made of. I had so many words of encouragement from everyone. I’m taking those words and moving onward. I’m truly looking to #FindMyStrong.

While I wish my first trip to the Chicago Marathon was one of me running it, seeing the race from the other side of the barricade makes me want to come back to this race even more. It may be next year or the year after. BUT I will be back.

I can not thank Saucony and Competitor Magazine enough for this unbelievable experience. They stuck with me even though I wasn’t able to run the race. Words can’t even begin to describe my gratitude. My heart is full and overjoyed. THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart!

5 Ways to Be the Best Race Spectator

how to be a fun race spectator  happyfitmama.com

Not running sucks.

It’s a fact. You know it. I know it. Damn, do I ever know it.

You would think I would want nothing to do with racing right now since I’m injured. While it may kill me to see so many people doing exactly what I love, I really do enjoy spectating a race.

Watching a race may seem boring to some. Standing on the side of the road watching people run by.

B-o-r-i-n-g.

That’s the problem. You are watching, not spectating. What is boring about spectating athletes of every size, shape, age and walk of life, race by with hope, grit, athleticism and determination? Absolutely nothing.

Honolulu Marathon mile 25 | happyfitmama.com

Go watch a race and I can guarantee you’ll be inspired.

For a runner, having spectators on the course to support you is huge. There is nothing like the sound of cheering and clapping to keep you going. Crowd support can be a game changer when your mind is screaming “You CAN’T do this!” But then a simple, “You’ve got this!” or “Looking strong!” from a spectator can be enough to keep your legs moving.

They convince you that you CAN do this. It’s a marvelous thing.

In some ways, spectating a race is just as hard as actually running the race. Spectating involves cheering for everyone you see, traveling from point to point to watch your runners and if you do it right, acting like a fool. There’s logistics, strategy and planning. Cheering, clapping and of course, MORE COWBELL, are all good ways to support the athletes. But why not have some fun with it? Those athletes are deep in the pain cave. You job is to make them forget it, even if it’s for 10 seconds. You want to be the best athletic supporter there is out on the course.

spirit5k2crop | HappyFitMama.com

5 Fun Ways to Be the Best Race Spectator

1. Be a Sugar Mama/Daddy.

What makes everyone happy? Candy! Gummy bears, jelly beans, licorice or anything easily digestible and sweet. Another option is orange slices or pretzels. The athletes will flock to you. During the Honolulu Marathon I was craving salt around mile 21 or so. An awesome spectator had a bowl full of the best damn pretzels I’ve ever tasted.

2. Make it rain.

If you are spectating a race in the heat, bring along squirt guns or Super Soakers to cool the runners down. If the race just so happens to run by your house, hook up a sprinkler for the athletes to run through. That’s sure to bring a smile to the runner’s face.

3. Play dress up.

Get crazy with feather boas, wigs, hats and glasses. Wear a banana costume. How can you not smile at someone wearing a banana costume?

4. Bring in ‘da noise. Bring in ‘da funk.

Hook your iPod up to speakers and blast some tunes. The Rocky theme is always good if you are spectating on a killer hill. Bonus if you choreograph a routine to the song.

5. Signs, signs, everywhere signs.

Signs are a sure fire way to distract a runner from the pain cave. Motivation and inspiring words are great but funny signs are way better. Laughter really is the best medicine.

What sight during a race gets you out of the pain cave?