My NACAC Mountain Running Champs Survival Story

NACAC Mountain Running Championships Results: 49:56 for 13th overall (1st Canadian!)
USA 1st, Team Canada 2nd, Mexico 3rd

My pictures from Sr. Men/Jr. Men

I take back everything I knew…ok thought I knew…about running up mountains, and tell you- I know next to NOTHING about mountain running. Sure, I faired well, I actually placed high and I think I ran a smart race, but if the Poland course is going to be anything like Mt. Cranmore (which it is supposedly 95% the same) I’ve got a lot of work to do.

Going down on the first lap.

At 7:14a.m. on Sunday I loved running up mountains, I thought it was “fun” and “exhilarating”, and then at about 7:44a.m. I wanted to fall over and die. I felt like a 5th grader running their first 5k. I was sprinting from the start and doing my best to put one foot in front of the other, while I shuffled down cliffs and barely caught my breath enough to climb back up.

It hurt, a lot. Ironically, the down hill hurt more than the up, being that I was blessed with a killer chest cramp that gradually subsided as soon as I hit the uphill (probably because my pace slowed to basically a walk). This race was also the USA Championships so the field wen out guns a blazing, and I found myself caught midpack within the first 800m. My teammate Sarah was only a speck of red in the distance as she headed into war without me (later I would catch up but I started to get really anxious).

Hurting bad here. Photo by Michael Scott
This course was designed to be hard. Instead of an up-down like Sutton, its down-up-down-up. So, after running your butt off for the first 2 k, you then have to march full force up-hill.. sorry, up-mountain..sections that even the fittest runners can’t even “run up”. Instead, the majority of the field walks, putting their hands on their quads as they try to pull themselves forward. And, just when you decide to wave your white flag and surrender, you turn a corner that takes you back though the torturous adventure that you have decided you despise more than any other race, especially the marathon.

About to finish. I am smiling because I am finishing (and passing my cheering squad - Thanks Susie and Emmett!)

Unfortunately the paparazzi was all over the course that day, so I had to keep myself from crying, puking and falling face first into a mud puddle. I actually caught the two ladies that finished 11th and 12th on the first climb, and then within 5 minutes of the last climb, but somewhere along the way my body (and mind) gave up and I simply survived it out for the remaining 6 minutes of the race. Within these 6 minutes I dropped back nearly 50 seconds, which is something I am not proud of. I simply couldn’t make my legs go. And though my male teammates stood just a few minutes before the top of the mountain and proceeded to scream their heads off at me to “RUN and LIFT up your KNEES” (in french AND english of course) I simply shuffled forward wheezing and cussing (In my head, being the paparazzi was there and all) until the finish line was in sight. Then, I smiled and picked up the pace to finish 13th, better than I expected but still, disappointed as it would have been nice to crack the top 10.

Still, I am new to this sport and the race was a great experience. I know exactly what I need to work on over the next 6 weeks before Poland, and hopefully the next time I tackle another Mountain similar to Cranmore, I will be the victor, as Sunday it was Mt. Canmore: 1, Meggan: 0.

Run Happy!