I ran Mount Washington last year and finished in just under 2:05, so my goal for this year was to try to break 2 hours. I really didn’t think I was going to be able to do it, as I entered the race under-trained and overweight. In fact, I told Jodi, who was waiting for me at the summit, not to worry if it took me 2:15 or 2:30 to finish, as I figured I was going to end up walking almost the whole thing.

But the weather was a lot cooler than last year. I think that was the difference. I think my ratio of running to walking was about the same as last year, but I tried to take slightly shorter strides while walking, at a higher turnover. When I got near the top I was madly doing calculations in my head trying to figure out if I had a chance to come in under 2 hours. For the life of me I couldn’t remember the exact course distance, so wasn’t sure exactly how much further I had to go. On the last section that was at a shallow enough grade, I forced myself to run even though both calves were cramping and starting to spasm on me. Finally, I could hear the spectators at the finish and knew I had one last curve, then The Wall — 21% grade — up to the finish. I looked at my watch and I was within about half a minute of 2 hours. Pushing as hard as I could, I crossed the line and stopped my watch at 1:59:56. Phew! Four seconds to spare!

Unfortunately this race does not use a timing mat at the start, only at the finish. My official race time is gun time, which was 2:00:22. The 26 second difference is the time from when the gun went off until I actually reached the start line. I am quite disappointed that my official time isn’t under 2 hours.