Race Recap: Wildman Biathlon (Part 2)

When I left off yesterday, my uncle had just finished his bike in 1:26, and we had a running clock time of approximately 2:28. I was surprised when I saw my grandparents manning the timing station at the bottom of the mountain, and of course my grandpa made some funny comment that had me laughing before the henious climb before me.

My original plan was to run the flats and walk the steep parts. I thought I knew the trail from skiing it. Skiing down a mountai trail covered in snow is much different than climing up a rocky mountainside. After running the first .5 miles, I was done running for a while.

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Pictures can’t express how hard this was. No one was running, and many of us worked together to get to the top. I can easily say this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’m not a hiker, the sun was blistering hot (although the air was cool), the air thinned towards the top, and it was so. so. steep. It also wasn’t like hiking at all. In my experience, hiking trails are typically worn down to have decent footing, and have a direct path. This was just giant rocks that weren’t covered in grass, used to service the top of the mountain in the summer (I assume). The first mile wasn’t bad, but the second mile was horrible. I stopped at an aid station for a couple of minutes to take a honey stinger and catch my breath, and after that I was stopping every 5 minutes or so, for about a minute, to catch my breath and reassure myself I could do it.

About 3/4 the way up.
About 3/4 the way up.

Every time I stopped, I turned around to enjoy the view. I was earning the view and while I’ve seen it a million times before, there’s nothing like thinking that I was in such a beautiful place, climbing a mountain. I felt reprieve that I knew where I was on the trail, but I still felt like it would never end. Surprisingly, the last “pitch” was the steepest, which surprised me because it always feels so flat when I ski it. After I reached the top of that incline, I found it in myself to run (at a 12:30 pace, nonetheless) the last .15 to the finish line.

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The climb was 2.67 miles, and I averaged a 24:47 pace for 2,000 feet of elevation gain. I passed one person on the climb, while two or three passed me. There were times where I caught up with a group, but then fell behind. I can’t fathom how most of the people surrounding me had done the bike and the 10K before heading up the mountain!Our final time was 3:35:14, way off of my goal but I couldn’t care less because WE DID IT!

Team Cloutier/Santy alive at the top at the mountain!
Team Cloutier/Santy alive at the top at the mountain!

I was so happy to see my mom (manning the timing station), grandma, and uncle at the top waiting for me. Knowing they were up there is what kept me going. I had a few sips of gatorade and a slice of watermelon before cracking open a beer Mom brought to the top for me. It was perfect. We soon headed down the mountain on the gondola for the spaghetti luncheon and awards ceremony (of which we got none – obviously).

Immediately after finishing, Uncle Denis was all about getting ready to improve our times next year. I’ll take some time to think about it, I dread heading up that mountain again! I would definitely train differently for that – working in some hiking instead of hill repeats. I’m truly hoping they have the race again next year, even if I don’t participate. However, in it’s 27th year, there were few participants and there has been a shift in race directors to someone who isn’t nearly as experienced as the previous director. The Wildman is a truly incredible, unique event in a beautiful area. I really hope this wasn’t the last year, but if it is I’m glad I got to do it at least once!

Final results:

10K run: 1:02:48. 13/13 team, 63/63 overall

22.3 mi bike: 1:26:02, 9/13 team, 35/63 overall

2.67 mi hillclimb: 1:06:25, 12/13 team, 50/63 overall

Overall: 3:35:14, 13/13 team, 53/63 overall

 

Race Recap: Wildman Biathlon (Part 1)

Like I shared last week, I was heading home to New Hampshire to participate in the Wildman Biathlon with my Uncle Denis. I was happy to get Friday off from work and was able to head home Thursday night. It was a last minute shift change, so I set out my outfits quickly, packed up, and hit the road after getting dinner with a friend!

Flat Sam.
Flat Sam.

On Friday evening my mom and I went to pick up the race packets, and she found out where she would be volunteering the next day. While we did that my uncle drove the bike course to “feel the hills” for the next morning. We had a not-so-typical pre-race meal of pizza, because whenever he comes home he has to have it. It hit the spot, but I was a bit nervous about not having pasta the night before a race.

I was up at 5:45 the next morning for a breakfast of a banana, a slice of cold pizza (a must), and a Red Bull (I was hardly awake). We were told to be at the race for 7:30, and got there around 7:20. It was a small race this year, with only 50 individual athletes and 13 teams (14, but 1 DNF’d) so the start area was pretty calm. I definitely waited a little too long to go to the port-a-pot and was really rushed at the start!

See me in the skirt? Taken from the Wildman's facebook page.
See me in the skirt? Taken from the Wildman’s facebook page.

Let me start with going into the 10K, I knew I would come in close to last, if not last, especially when I saw how small the field was. The Wildman is a competitive race and I know that I’m not a “fast” runner. I knew that all I could do was my best, and hopefully there would be someone slower than me in the field…When I took off on the out-and-back course, I waved goodbye to my family, knowing that I would have to fight alone for 6.2 miles.

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The course was relatively flat with a few short, steep hills. There were no spectators after the start aside from the 4 water stations. Very quickly I found myself alone with two older men, one ahead of me and one behind me. I don’t know when, but at some point the one behind me must have dropped out. I ran straight through the first 4 miles, then really focused on trying to catch the person ahead of me. Around mile 4 I started doing 4:1 intervals, hoping I would be able to gain some speed with some little walking breaks. I did speed up a little in the last mile, but not enough.

I fought to pass the man ahead of me, but he ended up winning the battle. He was 80 years old and I give him major props for doing the race as a solo entrant. I wish I can be in that kind of shape when I’m 80! So yes, I came in last for the 10k portion, however, this was my second fastest 10K time, and the fastest in a year. It was only about 20 seconds off my fastest time. There’s not many races where you can run a 10:08 avg. pace and still come in last. It stunk, but it didn’t hurt my spirits. It couldn’t – I had another leg to run!

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Right as I crossed the timing mat, my uncle took off on his 22.3 mile bike. My grandma and I hopped in the car and passed him on his first loop of the course. I had just enough time to go home and change and have some solid food (goldfish!). Just as my grandma and I were heading out to the mountain, my uncle passed by at the end of my street (about mile 15) as he was reaching his 45 minute mark. He was killing it! Once we got to the mountain we just had to wait for him. He finished in 1:26 and then I was off on my journey up the mountain!

Denis coming in on the bike.
Denis coming in on the bike.

Since this is getting long, I’ll be back tomorrow with my trek up the mountain and our final results!

Have you ever come in last in a race? Someone has to be the one…and it was me.