Monday, July 7, 2014

U.S. Mountain Running Championships

Tad and I flew out to Boston on Thursday for the U.S. Mountain Running National Championships to be held on Sunday at Loon Mountain Ski Resort in Lincoln, New Hampshire.  After arriving late due to storm delays, we stayed outside of the city and went for a run at the Walden Pond State Reservation in Concord, MA. A timely place to be on the 4th of July, Walden Pond is the site of the inspirational and influential philosophical writer, Henry David Thoreau. We ran a complete loop around the pond before getting yelled at by the park authorities that there was no running allowed around the pond. This objection didn't seem to be aligned with Henry's advice to "pursue some path, however narrow and crooked," but whatever.

My favorite HDT quote, next to the site of his cabin.
It is no surprise that I was really nervous for this race. A week before, I had a dream that I was leading the race and all of a sudden the arrows telling me where to go were gone. I slowed to look for them, calling out to no one in particular where to go. The other women soon caught up to me and we were rummaging through a house looking for signs of where to go. Turns out, Paul (race director extraordinaire) only completed marking the men’s course and forgot to finish marking the women’s course. We had to hang around and wait for him to finish putting up flags.

The weekend before I spent following the Western States 100 and the USATF Track and Field National Championship. It was hard not be inspired by the strong, powerful, persevering athletes. If I could run with half the intensity and passion that these runners showcased, I would have a good performance.  

My last time at the Championships was in 2012 and it was also at Loon Mountain.  I was coming off of a stress fracture in my right metatarsal and I had not run for 6 weeks prior to the race and accumulated only a handful of miles the days before. Finishing the race was questionable. It was encouraging to know that my performance this year could only be better than that, barring any unforeseen weird circumstances.

I love the mountain/trail community. In my opinion, they are the most genuine, kind and friendly group of people and I am proud to be a part of it. It was great getting to see some old friends, make new ones and meet my social media stalkees.

Leading Magdalena up.
I purposefully started easy and worked my way up like I do in a cross country race. I saw Magdalena Lewy-Boulet up ahead and caught her on the first climb (or what road racers would call the fourth big hill.) By two miles, I caught up to Megan Lizotte, four-time world team member.  I knew this was a smart place to be so I tried to stay in her footsteps. Megan continued to work her way up, but because I was so focused on the demanding footing and difficulty of the course, without me realizing it she soon pulled away. 

It is hard to focus on racing when you have to also focus on the tremendous difficulty of the mountain and the technical terrain. If you are running on the roads or the track, you are rarely thinking about where you are putting your feet and you can solely focus on your competition. In mountain running, you are so focused on where you are putting every footstep and the effort that it takes to get up the mountain that it can become more about the finish line than racing. This is something that I personally need to work on. My goal was a top-ten finish so I am content with my 9th place. However, I know that I can finish much higher. With another injury-free year, another bump in the mileage and this learning experience from the mental perspective, I am confident that I can make a more aggressive goal than a top ten finish next time. 

Finish at the top of Upper Walking Boss.
Congratulations to Allie McLaughlin and Megan Deakins for making the U.S. team your first time out and to Morgan Arritola and Kasie Enmen for making yet another team.  Congratulations also to Megan Lizotte who, no matter how she is running throughout the year, she brings it to this race every time. I am truly inspired.

Results can be found here.

Thank you to Paul Kirsch and Chris Dunn for planning, organizing and executing a successful championship race. Thank you to La Sportiva, Trail Butter, Terrain Gym and Align Chiropractic for your sponsorship and support. Time to get back to the Northwest, rest up and prepare for the NACAC Mountain Running Championship in Mexico in two weeks. 


  1. Great read Maria!!! Looks like your are doing just fine :)

    1. Thanks a lot, Michele! I really miss seeing you out there, but love following you on your incredible journey... especially the one you're on now- congrats!

  2. Amazing race Maria! You are a fantastic runner and person, and an inspiration to Megan and I! Seeing you and Tad on Saturday was even better than the ice cream that we were on our way to eating. Which is the highest compliment we can give someone :)

    1. That is a compliment! Thanks David. Tad and I are so happy for you and Megan. What an incredible time in your life. Enjoy every second of it- you deserve it! Hope to see you at Jupiter Peak!