Loon Mountain Race Recap

Loon Mountain Race | happyfitmama.com

Fun.

That word kept popping into my head throughout the Loon Mountain Race.

For the whole 6.6 (or 6.8 according to my Garmin) miles of mud, water, gravel, rocks, and the never ending incline, I still was thinking – FUN.

Over the past year or so, I’ve felt a shift in my running preference.  I’ve always loved the trails but as I found myself surrounded by more trail runners and actually running more trails, running on the road didn’t feel good.  Physically and mentally.

Running on the trails makes me feel lighter, there’s less impact and I’m constantly using different muscles in different planes. In road running, it’s easy to just slog along in one forward motion. It’s too much of a repetitive motion.

As I found myself at the base of Loon Mountain, I had zero expectations.  I was elated to be running but a little nervous.  How could I not be?  I had only started a run/walk return to running program 5 weeks prior to race day.  My orthopedic gave me the OK to run the race but still cautioned that running uphill is not the best thing for a stress fracture recovery.  Neither was running downhill. So it goes without saying that I had done ZERO hill work before the race.

Loon Mountain Race | happyfitmama.com

Post race mud bath.  And note the hills surrounding the parking lot.

Thankfully, I found a few friends from Six03 while waiting for the start of the race to chat about what we were getting into. Most had done the race before and offered tips. I saw my running buddy from the Fall/Winter, Lori, and she encouraged me to hang with her and a couple other girls.  I didn’t think I’d have a chance of hanging on to their pace for all of the above reasons and because they are all seasoned distance/climbing pros.

The night before the race, the area had been hit with torrential rains.  Our phones were going crazy with flash flood alerts and even a tornado warning for most of the night.  By Sunday morning the rain had stopped but left behind washouts on the course and more mud and water than usual.  Within the first mile of the race course, there was a huge washout that took out most of the service road.

The first mile or so climbs up the service road and then takes a sharp turn onto the cross country ski trails for a couple of miles of ups, flats and downs.  I LOVED this part.  It was a muddy, laughable mess.  There were multiple times that you had no choice but to run straight through over the ankle mud/water and pray that you came out with both shoes.  I felt no pain in my fibula and felt really comfortable with the little ups and downs.

Around mile 3, we popped out onto a mixture of gravel service roads and grassy (muddy) ski runs. This is the section where the grade went up to 20% in spots. I was following the other girls lead on when to hike and when to run.  I was shocked at how good I felt during the hiking section.  I was passing people with no problem.  My legs felt strong. Of course, my heart rate was through the rough but it would recover nicely when I hiked.

Loon Mountain Race | happyfitmama.com

Once we hiked up a long 20% grade, we made it to the top of the gondola where the finish line.  But oh no, you are not done yet.  You have to climb up and over it and then head down a steep hill (15% grade) before rounding the corner to the infamous Upper Walking Boss. I felt really good flying down the hill and was even able to pass some people. And then I saw UWB.  With an average grade of 40% (with sections that are 48%), it is a straight climb for approximately 1km but seems more like 5 miles after running 5.5 miles to get to it.

I don’t know if it’s possible to actually run UWB.  Maybe the winners do?  This year, with the added mud, it made it extra challenge to find footing.  There were sections that I would take a step and slide right back down.  There were times that I bear crawled up because standing up made me feel like I was going to tumble down the mountain.  It was a hands on knees slog to the top.  I slowed a bit during UWB but Lori was still in my sights and I was still passing people. Maybe all that Stepmill climbing during my stress fracture recovery paid off?

The best part of the climb was the girl in front of me once we neared the photographers.  She thought it would be a good idea to do a cart wheel on UWB.  Needless to say it didn’t work out well but it sure had us all laughing hard!

Once I reached the top of UWB, it was time to run back down to the finish line via an 18% grade. My upper quads were on the verge of cramping as I started down.  I opted for the grassy section rather than the rocky side.  I slowed WAY down as I had flashbacks of DO NOT RUN DOWNHILL from my orthopedic.  Coupled with the cramping, I was afraid I’d lose footing and fall in a hole and break my leg. It killed me to get passed by so many that I had passed on UWB and to lose sight of Lori but I reminded myself that I wasn’t racing.

Once at the bottom of the hill, there was a short flat section before an uphill finish to the gondola.  All great races end in an uphill for that one final kick in the pants, right?

Last week's workouts | happyfitmama.com

I finished this race so happy.  I had so much fun throughout the whole entire race and I had zero pain. It was the perfect boost of confidence that the stress fracture is healed and I can continue to get back to where I was before – better and stronger.

It also solidified what I have been feeling for quite some time.  I’d rather be running on dirt than on the road. My friends who run trails warned me that I’d be hooked once I got dirty.  They were absolutely right.

I can’t wait to run Loon next year!

Side note: I so wish I had worn a GoPro so you can see how ridiculously muddy it was!

Linking up with Coaches Corner and Wild Workout Wednesday.

What’s the hilliest race you’ve ever run?

Trails or road – which do you prefer?

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Last Week’s Workouts

Last week's workouts | happyfitmama.com

Last week’s workouts were a little off.

I felt great post Loon Mountain Race but then around Tuesday I began to feel really tired and my stomach wasn’t feeling the best.  I felt like I had a bug of sorts. Or it could have been that I was feeling the after effects of a long holiday weekend that involved more food and drinks than I’m used to. Or because I ran a really hard race on Sunday. Rather than pushing the envelope, I took it easy all week.

By Saturday, I was feeling better.

On Sunday, Ron woke up with a chills and threw up.

Huh.  I must have been the carrier. :)

Monday

Morning Flow Yoga at Bending Bodhi

40 minute walk with Cooper

Ron and I both had the day off from work but the kids went to camp so we opted for a fun day of day drinking and water time.

Tuesday

30 minute run

It was super humid by the time I was able to run after  being on the phone with Apple for over 2 hours.  My legs felt like lead for most of the run so I kept it easy and light.

Not sure if this counts as a workout but I swam 2 laps at the pool and my heart rate was through the roof.  If I wasn’t in the pool I would have been sweating buckets.  So freaking hard!

Egoscue Exercises

Last week's workouts | happyfitmama.com

 

Wednesday

My gym is closed for the next couple of weeks for renovations.  I could go to another location but that means an extra 20 minutes of driving time.  That also means having to wake up extra early.  That wasn’t happening the day after a long holiday weekend.

I opted for 30 minute recumbent bike in the basement, strength training circuit outside (same workout I posted about last week) and a 20 minute walk with Cooper that also included some playground strength training.

Egoscue Exercises

Last week's workouts | happyfitmama.com

Thursday

45 minute run

Morning Flow Yoga at Bending Bodhi

I still wasn’t feeling the greatest but with no humidity and cooler temps, it felt too nice not to be outside.

Egoscue Exercises

Last week's workouts | happyfitmama.com

Friday

Rest day

Still wasn’t feeling 100% so I opted for sleeping in a little bit rather than getting up early for a workout before work.

Egoscue Exercises

Saturday

44 minute run

Egoscue Exercises

There’s not much to say about this run other than the humidity was in full force.  Later in the day, someone posted in my running group Facebook page that a woman had been followed by a creeper on a portion of the same route I had run.  It pisses me off that this happens so often.  The police were called and there was nothing they could do about it.  Ugh. Just a reminder to always be aware of your surroundings!

Last week's workouts | happyfitmama.com

This picture has nothing to do with workouts but can we talk about this armadillo? It’s kind of cute but kind of creepy all in the same weird little body.  This was at a birthday party we attended on Saturday.  I also like everyone to know that I touched a snake.  I do not like snakes.  But I said I would touch it if my daughter did.  Guess who didn’t touch the snake?!?!

There was also a lizard (I touched that too!), a ferret (no thanks!), and a chinchilla (so soft!).

Sunday

35 minute run

Egoscue Exercises

This was the first day of the week that I felt pretty decent. My legs felt lighter and overall I had more energy.  Hopefully the “bug” is gone and doesn’t stick around this week.

I really missed running trails last week.  My body didn’t feel nearly as good as I did the week prior.  I’m really beginning to believe that the road to hell is indeed, paved. :)

Linking up with Hoho/Tricia for the weekly workout wrap up.

How was your week in workouts?

High Five Friday

Happy High Five Friday!

It was a short work week but it sure felt long to me! Let’s get right into high 5-ing the good stuff.

5 from Instagram – I share more pics on Instagram and Instagram Stories.  Are you following me?  Please do!

High Five Friday with great links from the week and some of my favorite pics from Instagram. happyfitmama.com

1 ) You may think this pic is from the finish line of the Loon Mountain Race but oh no.  This is at the top of a long 20% grade that passes by the gondola where spectators were.  After this is where go down a steep downhill before heading up the 40% (and in spots 48%) grade UWB which is then followed by an 18% downhill grade which is then followed by another uphill (although much smaller) back to the gondola for the finish. I’ll say it again – SO MUCH FUN!

2 ) Post race, the family headed to Whales Tale Water Park.  Not exactly the best way to recover from the race but at least I got to sip a margarita on a lounge chair for a bit.

3 ) My first batch of home brewed Kombucha!  I did a Strawberry Lemon Ginger combo. It’s easier than I thought it was going to be. And way cheaper than buying it from the store.

4 ) Torrential downpours and polar bears at the Polar Caves.  We had fun despite getting soaked.  Although I refused to go in all but one of the caves.  I don’t do tight spots like that. My kids called me a chicken.  Damn right.

5 ) Sunrise workouts at the playground with Cooper.

5 Good Reads

1 ) The Time We Have With Our Children is Never Enough – The days are long but the years go by quickly.  Soak in every minute.  Time flies. And yes, I got a little teary eyed reading this.

2 ) To Train an Athlete, Add 12 Minutes of Meditation to the Daily Mix – Here’s another reason you (and me!) should start a meditation practice.  It’s something I know I should be doing more often but it’s one of those things that usually doesn’t.  Recommitting now!

3 ) Strength, Perseverance, Myself…Found on the Trail – I love everything about this article.  It doesn’t matter if you find yourself on the road or on the trail.  Because this -> In the day to day of things, it is so easy to get caught up in who we are to others, not who we are.”

4 ) The Flyway – I Believe in Getting Older – Since I turned 39 in March, I’ve had this sense of “oldness” all around me.  Maybe it was because I was diagnosed with a stress fracture soon after and the doctor told me I was getting older. Maybe because I also now have the “old lady” diagnosis of osteopenia.  Old seems to be in my face lately.  Whatever the case, I love this article from Sarah.  Especially this part -> “And I feel like I’ve earned my wrinkles and saggy skin spots the old-fashioned way: with hard work and worry, lost sleep, excessive smiling and laughing, and carrying 3 babies in my body. Life. So, I look how I look.”

5 ) Poor Bastard Has No Idea He’s Running All Wrong –  Want a good laugh?  Read this.

What would you like to High 5 today?

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