This weekend, I enjoyed a kid-free weekend away with my husband to gorgeous Vermont. While a spa weekend was probably what we needed; instead I ran, walked, climbed and maybe cried a little as I trudged (and slogged) up and down Killington Mountain a.k.a The Beast , as a part of Under Armour’s Mountain Running Race Series.
This new series encompassed seven trail race distances: 5K, 10K, 50K, Half Marathon, Marathon, Marathon Relay and Vertical K where I opted for the Half Marathon. After completing a 10K, the Brooklyn Half and running on the daily, it seemed like the best option, which, in hindsight, I had no idea of what I was really getting myself into. Accompanied by my husband, who doesn’t exercise (other than walking), I was blissfully ignorant to what we were about to embark on and equally thrilled for this new challenge. Nonetheless, I showed up and was so psyched on race day as I loaded up on some food, took pictures and drank as much water as I could before the run.
At the start of the race at 10am, participants were off, as we all started out running where the elevation quickly rose, causing many of us (including my husband and myself) to slow down. With no real elevation training (other than then incline on the treadmill), it was an intense push to get up, trudging through rocks and mud to reach the top and then descend again. Some people picked up their speed at this point, jutting down the mountain, which actually felt pretty scary to me, feeling as if I was losing control over my footing.
What followed was a series of going up and down the mountain at different points for a total of four intense strides. There was some running at the points where the mountain leveled-out, but for the most part I was just trying to trudge my way up and not fall down. It was so hard! I hated it. I loved it. There were points where I had to gander so much inner strength; a power that I didn’t know that I had to push my body, quiet my mind, and really face my fears. As someone who didn’t grow up with sports, it was the ultimate test inner test where the only way to stop was to complete the race.
And after every crazy run, climb and walk, there were new milestones (6 miles, 10 miles, 1 to go) that I reached that helped me carry on. It was also helpful to have aid stations at specific points to be able to recharge, hydrate and even snack on Clif Bars, Clif Energy Blocks, pretzels, and unexpected favorite for the experience, Skittles.
Throughout the experience, there was also other athletes on the course, many of whom were participating in the 50K (say what?!) that started two hours prior to the Half. Comments like “great job,” “you got this,” “almost there,” as I was trudging along really lifted my spirits as I was in awe of their accomplishments, which who knew, could even be in a few years?
At the end of the intense 13.1 miles up and down (and up and down) with a peak elevation of 4,789’ feet I finally finished a little under five hours, exhausted, a bit broken down yet still totally elated. I effing did it! How awesome is that?!
While this wasn’t my ‘normal’ Half time where in the end it was about the intensity of the moment, where at every turn of the run, I was challenged (both mentally and physically) and driven to complete the task at hand. A soul-shaking, mentally-challenging, and intense physical experience, this was one wild ride that I’ll surely never forget. And after going up a mountain at over 4,000′ feet, definitely an experience that my body won’t let me forget about anytime soon.
Up for a challenge? Check out their next mountain race in Colorado. And check out the inspiring pics of some of the 50K trail runners below:
For more information, please visit www.UAMountainrace.com
I was not paid for this post. Under Armour provided me with a ticket and gear to participate in this experience.