Travel day was plagued with delays. I finally arrived in North Conway, NH at 1:45 am early Saturday morning. Record high temps, high humidity, and the wonderful Margie Soroka (my host) would be there to greet me. * Race director, Paul Kirsch, does an excellent job connecting elite athletes with host families from around the community who open their homes and hearts to help keep expenses down for those needing a place to stay (among the numerous other things Paul is responsible for!). Saturday would start off a little rough. Tired and fatigued, myself and other elite athletes made our way to the course for viewing and packet pickup. It would be a steep hike up to the bottom part of the looped 8k course ( 2 loops of about 4k) held on Cranmore mountain. There is something about the rough terrain, fresh mountain air, and the calmness of the woods that makes me feel like this is right where I am supposed to be. Fast forward to race day, Sunday. I awake groggy but happy I slept. My gluten free oats, fresh berries from the garden, and a tablespoon of peanut butter went down smoothly. Upon arrival at Mount Cranmore, I did a quick foam roll session and boarded the ski lift. The grin on my face was captured by a photographer sneaking in some shots as the lift carried me up. I couldn't be happier or feel more blessed (with the exception of being 100% healthy and injury free!). Cooler air surrounded me unlike the past day or so when record high temperatures had been present. Although still humid, it was beautiful race morning conditions.
Exiting the chair lift on top of the mountain, I would be greeted by a fan. A fellow ultra runner (who would also be racing this race and finishing just shortly behind me!), gave me praise for my past accomplishments, determination, and perseverance. "Wow!"...I was blown away!!! :) Feeling a little fatigued, I relied on my Chocolate Raspberry GU Energy gel to give me a boost. It worked! My warm-up went well and I navigated my way to the starting line. A quick hug hello to my former team mate world champion- Kasie Enman and we were off!
The course started with a 200meter climb before a steep decent into a gradual (more technical than we all thought) descent. I raced my own race. I knew I would have to execute the downhill as I normally would because my speed endurance and climbing ability would be lagging due to my current injury and absence of training. My feet were light and easily bounded down the mountain. By the time we hit the climb I had a 20 yard lead on the field. My race plan was in order. Several women comfortably passed me by (something I expected), but I kept on fighting. All were American and this was a team USA event..one in which I knew we were going to dominate! We had one more lap to go and I made up some places on the downhill again..gutting out the uphill through the finish line. I finished 11th place 49:01. Not the place I REALLY had hoped for...especially when representing the USA, but I was grateful with it given my circumstances. I was happy my injury didn't flare up too bad and was positive about my future in this distance/race.
Team USA #1 !!!! American's ruled the race taking the top 12 places. Although only 2 American's "scored" in the NACAC event (Morgan and Megan), and 4 of us officially represented (Amber and I)...there were plenty of outstanding American athletes that were more deserving of the Gold medal that I received this past Sunday. A huge shout out to them and congratulations to those representing our country in Poland at the World Championships. Here were the top 11 in the race. 1. Morgan Arritola 2. Stevie Kremer 3. Magdalena Boulet 4. Megan Kimmel 5. Christine Lundy 6. Megan Lizotte 7. Juliane Masciana 8. Rachel Viele 9. Amber Reece-Young 10. Laura Haefeli 11. Michele Yates 12. Christin Doneski official results here: http://www.coolrunning.com/results/13/nh/Jul21_USAMou_set1.shtml
Sharing the weekend with so many great runners, supporters ( especially the Sorokas, Mama Yates- Karen and Linda)and the organizers ( Paul Kirsh), truly "made" the weekend. THANKS TO ALL OF YOU !!!!!