Trish Karter - Mt. Washington Race Report</i></b></span></span></div>

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Sorry for my late-arriving report.  Have been cruising in Maine. I’m happy to participate in the Ripper tradition of race reports as it was an excellent vehicle for processing everything. Thanks! </span></span></div>

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I intensified my training this year for what would be my 5th Mt. Washington Hillclimb and thus…. greatly intensified the PRESSURE</i> to deliver! My terrific coach, Marti Shea (undefeated queen of BUMPS) put me up to it and gave me the road map to chase down a goal which would have been unthinkable for me just a few years ago. My wonderful (anonymous) sponsor made it possible to be on crazy good wheels but also to believe that Ishould</i> ride them and could</i> earn my keep on them. On Saturday morning it actually looked pretty promising. Equipment, training, weight, head game, logistics --- all race-ready. </span></span></div>

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About 15 minutes before the Top Notch starting gun I was doing my first opener on the steep little hill behind Glen House which everyone likes to ride.  So it’s thick with people.  Everything was working well and I felt strong.  Then Bam! A 250 pound guy lost control of his bike and landed on top of me and I in turn landed on Carl.  Note to self:  don’t go there next year! I heard the hiss of air out of my new Zip 202 tubulars and saw the snapped-off valve on the pavement.  “Oh Shit!!” My adrenaline was pumping so hard I couldn’t really assess the bodily damage but the immediate question was whether I could get a wheel before the starting gun. There was some blood around but both Carl and I seemed fine and his bike was unscathed. Later that evening I found a whole new color scheme on my thighs and hip (the bad hip) but nothing, obviously, that kept me from riding. Hadn’t hit my head and it didn’t feel shaken. Never did get the color-scheme report from Carl but I know he was fine too – and tough! Actually I think I’ll rename the bad hip to “the good hip”.  It took the pounding.</span></span></div>

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Before that moment I had been observing the impressive range of humanity attempting this climb, appreciating the gorgeous bluebird day and feeling lucky to be there.  I hadn’t yet had that twisted-gut pre-gun moment of inner debate on why I do this, how much would it hurt and could I perform up to my expectations?  I always know the outcome of that debate but it seems to need to take place anyway. Answers to those questions deserve a whole separate exploration which I’ll spare you now. Summiting is a powerful experience every time, no matter what the circumstances or expectations. I think it must be the “summit high” that has reprogrammed my entire cell structure to crave the suffering which leads to it.  My first Mt. Washington was a celebration of being alive and having a brain that still works.  This climb was all that of course, plus a run at the notion, which I’d always held as a frustrated athlete, that I could “be someone”.</span></span></div>

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Up off the pavement and assessing the damage, I conjured a salve for the moment.  It was OK for one bad thing to have happened as it must be some kind of karmic trade toward one really good thing that might still happen. The big guy was a sweetheart – wish I had his name.  I told him not to worry and took off on a run – or rather a cleat-clump, down to the mechanic’s tent, carrying my crippled bike. My buddy Carl showed up with a replacement valve from another sweetheart who had observed the whole thing – wish I had his name too (I need to send him a valve).  Jeff the unflappable mechanic worked miracles and I made it to the starting line.  No doubt I was running my HR max for the day before the race had even started.</span></span></div>

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Carl by the way, who’s very fit from everything but</u> cycling, was attempting this ride at the opposite end of the hill-climbing prep spectrum.  It worked out well for him in a not-too-fast kind of way.  Last year he led his legally blind cousin up the hill, stopping frequently to help the cousin deal with disorientation and nausea, then jumping back on his bike to continue the long slog. No doubt there are hundreds of stories like that on the mountain. My first year I met  someone (who has become a good friend) who was there with his four-brother support crew. He was celebrating his comeback from a stage four cancer.  </span></span></div>

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My own story was that I’d gotten into hill climbing as a way to stay fit and stay on a bike (even if it was an indoor trainer) without much risk of landing hard on my head….again.  In the Spring of 2010 I had a bike accident resulting in the usual collection of broken bones, dislocations and road rash. But it also left me with significantly impaired cognitive abilities from which it took about a year to fully recover. Actually some may argue they didn’t all come back and others say they prefer the slowed-down version of me.  </span>J But I think my brain works better now after being rearranged. More importantly, I’m deeply grateful to have a brain!  Pre-race there had been debate about whether I should ride at all because of [yet another] concussion three weeks before which had sidelined me. That one was not a cycling accident and not my fault – just one of those things. But my doctor, whose “clearance to ride” I was going to get on Thursday, had to cancel the appointment. I decided that was a sign from the gods and promised my inner circle that I would scratch the race if at any point the head felt bad (unusual-bad as opposed to the regular Rockpile-intensity-bad). My head felt ready on Thursday. Honestly – and I did have to dig deep within to discern truth from desire.  And with that, I was hoping I could still perceive the distinction on Saturday while underway. No-one in the medical community seems to really understand the trade-offs – but the short term seemed fine. I do wonder about the long term - often and thoughtfully. I had scratched my last race at Equinox because of the head and that was clearly the correct choice. I believed I was making another correct choice regarding Mt. Washington.</span></span></div>

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I gave the ride pretty much what I had.  That turned out to be a LOT for the first couple miles – way faster than my plan – self-control issues.  Then for reasons I still don’t understand, I slowed down a lot in the middle (maybe burned a match?), especially when I hit the headwinds. Like Don, I have a strange affection for the dirt which is a welcome psychological break even though one stretch of it is particularly grueling.  That stretch is right after one of the few switchbacks and on this day the wind hit us like a brick wall right there. Still, there’s a “before the dirt” and an “after the dirt”. And it is absolutely guaranteed</u> that you are a lot closer to the summit “after the dirt” -- I like that!</span></span></div>

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I realized around mile 5 or 6, painfully, very painfully, that I was going to miss the mountain record for women over 50 of 1:17 (my fondly held goal) set by Mary Hynes Johanson last year at age 57! Sadly she took a bad fall last week and broke her arm. I missed her presence on the mountain this year. It’s great to have a close competitor (she’s the one out in front).  Even better to have a competitor who’s a friend. Anyway, at the moment of disappointment I inexplicably managed to keep my head in the game and even cranked up the wattage at that point to turn in a not too shabby finish for the last couple miles. Some alternative energy source took over.  I hammered home with maybe a hair too much left in the tank.  It’s so hard to get it right but every year I get closer to the holy grail of spending 100% of my mental and physical resources optimally over the 7.6 miles.</span></span></div>

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Everyone reported it being a slow day but I’m still trying to figure that out.  The temperature was perfect. The air was clear and the sun was glorious. The headwinds were also tailwinds a lot of time.  Tailwinds are less helpful than headwinds are hurtful but by how much and how do they differ at various speeds and body types? These didn’t feel so ridiculously bad in comparison with the 60 mph steady gale that blew July 6th</sup> for Newton’s Revenge.  Were they 25 or 40 mph when they hit us on that spot on the mountain at that moment? Now that it’s all over does it matter? Yes. And by how much? Can’t say.</span></span></div>

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I stood up and cranked up the last bit of 20% grade with what I had left and expired over the finish line.  Once  breathing again, I was a little more distressed about missing my time goal by 3 minutes and missing top notch by seconds, than I was pleased to have taken 4 minutes off my PR.  Goals and dreams of glory aside, the finish line was reliably cathartic, gratifying and emotional.  In past years I’ve often had a support crew but not this day. I thought of myself as the support for Carl and Dave Raszman, one of my best buddies in my Milton cycling crowd who was making his maiden voyage, having ridden over many mountains in his younger days and solo across country. Impressive cyclist and great guy.  So I forgot to eat anything or take a recovery drink as I raced over to cheer them to the finish. I paid for that later in a major bonk back down at the tent and  awards ceremony.  But I held myself together long enough to fully enjoy the 1st</sup> place finish for my 55-60 age group. Even better, I learned that I was 5th</sup> overall for the women with my 1:20. And even better than that, the age and gender adjusted results put me in the #1 slot for the women and #17 for the guys. </span>http://www.coolrunning.com/results/13/nh/Aug17_MountW_set6.shtml</a></span></i> </span>  I like being the 17th</sup> guy but #1 is a better number I think – in the abstract. Only 4 women made the top 50 age/gender adjusted list (wonder what those algorithms are).   OK that’s the end of my very big and very immodest brag. Please</u> forgive me for it. </span></span></div>

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Next year . . . I haven’t decided if there will be one. But I admit to already dreaming of crushing that record (Mary I know you’ll be crushing it as well). And I’m hoping that Marti will be back providing incomparable inspiration to cyclists of all stripe, but especially women of a certain age. Last year she was #1 woman and #2 age and gender adjusted rider/guy with a finish of 63 minutes. And I believe she can beat 63.  Definitely. Even now that she’ crossed over the 50 year mark. Marti defies all conventional wisdom about age and physical performance limitations – as do Don Metz, Ken Cestone, Gerry Clapper and others. Speaking of age, the youngest rider this year was a girl, 11 year old Maria Goodwin who finished in 2:07! Also the 14 year old daughter of 16th</sup> place finisher/great rider Eric Van denDries (sp?), Gabby, finished in an incomprehensibly fast 1:29.  Go girls!!!</b>  Ah youth…and talent…and guts! Imagine that.  Gabby was only 9 minutes behind me. Keep an eye on her.  She shyly and modestly shrugs it all off as no big deal.  </span>J</span></div>

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Missing (and very much missed) this year were top racers and good friends, Dominique Codere and Christine Lameroux – both Top Notch riders and both among the most talented on the circuit.</span></span></div>

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Fellow BHCC’ers Adam Shutes and Steve Finch came in with great times of 1:09 and 1:18 respectively making for a really strong BHCC team finish – maybe inspiring a few more of you to join in next year?</span></span></div>

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The evening of the race I met up with good friends the Phinneys in Randolph for an old fashioned square dance.  It was a hoot and I felt light as a feather.  Wait… was that the dancing or the wine? I’ve been dry for race season.  Either way it was a great evening. Rippers Tom Keane (1:15) and Christine Wichers showed up for a few squares too. They and Rippers Ulandt and Pauline and I did a fabulous recovery ride the next morning. Ulandt and Pauline had given me a ride down the mountain and it was fun to hear from Ulandt what it was like to take an “easy practice ride” up Mt. Washington this year as he wasn’t in racing form.  Last year he finished in 1:06!</span></span></div>

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All around a great weekend.  Then I drove straight to Southwest Harbor, still in my cycling gear, and hopped on a boat that was literally waiting for me at the dock to depart for a week-long cruise back to Boston.</span></span></div>

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I look forward to seeing many of you for the 5 Notch ride in September – and how many of you next year on the Rockpile?</span></span></div>

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Best,</span></div>

T</span></span></div>