May 31, 2010

Carrots at Wachusett Mountain Race

Driving to the Wachusett Mountain Trail & Road Race Saturday morning felt right. Very right. It was time. Time to join. Time to share. Time to integrate. Time to start some serious uphill momentum for Mount Washington ... in three weeks. 

What a perfect day, cooler temperatures, over cast skies and excellent company. 

At the start, I lined up in the back of the pack with Fred Ross. He and I are suitably matched in overall pace for Mount Washington & I thought it best to stick near him at Wachusett. 

Fred finishes minutes ahead of me on The Hill so I took some notes: walk, run, hike, run, drink, focus... His good nature, even keel and patience with my puppy-dog enthusiasm are much appreciated.

Above Photo of The Legendary Fred Ross 
by Scott Mason

Many folks on the trails—both ahead and behind —motivate me: Angel with her persistence, Ken and his camera, the Mystic  Runners and TNT folks, Abby & Tim, Diane & Brian, TiVo, the Dales, Todd & Laurie, Todd B, Bob W, JJ, Jim P & Chrissy, Scott "camera man" Mason—what a generous spirits! I missed seeing my friends with whom I ran Wachusett last year—Julie, KZ, and Susanne...

Scott Mason's Wachusett 2010 photos: 
Mile 4.5

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 Come 'n Get it!
 Ohakune, Central Plateau, North Island, New Zealand
Photo by David Wall

Many athletes have "carrots." At Wachusett '10, mine was Fred; he indirectly (& until now, perhaps "unknowingly") paces me and focuses my efforts.  Some sneakered wunning wabbit is probably chasing my carrot top, too. 

Oh, the carrot is not grouchy nor unhealthy competition.  It's someone and/or something that encourages another to liven up the day, to set the bar higher, to start fires under hooves (or slow the burn, depending), to perk the salad when the  lettuce wilts and croutons are out of reach. Carrots assist everyone to  strive to be, to perform, to observe AND to become, better for their  involvement alone as well as part of the whole.
The carrot is 
crunchy,  fresh and colorful.
It  goads,  "Follow me!"  

Saturday, Fred's lead pulled me up the hills and kept me working on moving forward when I wanted to touch the moss, check out the lake view, and retie my sneakers a couple hundred more times. He was within view for a fair portion and when I thought I lost him a on the uphill road and the steepest trail section, he'd reappear around a corner. Mr. Ross is an excellent uphill runner and power-hiker.

Photo by DP,  Lean Leader, The Cheering Squad.
(Unknown shirtless man is not my carrot.) 
Of course, Fred's also an awesome downhill runner, which is my strength, too. I was psyched he was having such an awesome day out there! With about a mile to go I saw him speeding along the wide dirt road.  I gradually shortened the gap but wasn't sure I had enough luck in my rabbit feet to catch him.

As momentum would have it, I rolled on by a few folks—including Fred—in the final descent. I hope Fred understands that he encourages me to run smarter and happier. 

I can be the carrot or rabbit or some critter in between, behind or above... Above all this chase stuff is all in good trail woodsy uphill back country fun!
Bunny Bait.
Photo by Scott Mason

Seeing & hearing Lean Leader D out on the mountain for me also made a huge difference in my day—& life. When I finished, I mentioned to him that I ran about two minutes slower than last year, to which he sagely replied, "Did you run 'about two minutes' happier?" 

Why yes, I rana lot— happier!

Thank you for reminding me how sweet the carrot and rabbit are and that both travel along joyful paths together.


Dan said...

Keen insight by Mr. Ross. Happy AND fast would be nice but if faced with a choice, I'd take happy every time.

My, what a big carrot you have.

Diane said...

I love this!

pathfinder said...

What...did you carry an invisible chair up the hill with you? Great job....I too will be at Mt Washington, my first, hope I am as happy as you were here.

Trail Pixie Trespas said...

Pathfinder, that's funny! I was stretching...and checking the sign post's durability, of course.

Dan, you know what they say...big carrots...big rabbits.

Diane, Scott got a fantastic photo of you. Best ever!

kZ said...

I missed you this weekend too Em... glad you had such a great race - your camera poses are adorable! Excited to see you in just a few weeks; let's chat soon! xoxox,