The white Mountain Milers Half-Marathon

Oct. 29, 2000 - North Conway NH
by Papa Bear

My wife and I just came back from a nice weekend in New Hampshire. Interestingly, there seemed to be a line around the Massachusetts boarder where we passed from fall into winter. We last saw the sun somewhere in southern New Hampshire and didn't see it again till we got to Connecticut on the way home. And there was snow! Not just flurries but 3 to 6 inches just north of where the race was held.

The race is held every year in late October in North Conway, where on a sunny day you can see the top of Mount Washington. But as I said there were no sunny days this weekend so we didn't get that glimpse. The area is called the Mt. Washington Valley, and except for a mall of ugly factory outlet stores south of town, it is a beautiful New England village. And in spite being nestled in a mountain valley, the course is very flat. I highly recommend this race.

As we drove into town on Saturday, the temperatures were in the low 30s and we had just come through some ominous snow flurries. Worse, there were some very gusty winds and 3 to 6 inches of snow was forecast for race day.   I had several coolmax shirts and some cotton gloves but I was way under prepared for this type of weather. So we drove down to the ugly mall (for once I was glad it was there) and found some stuff at a Nike store and at a ski shop so that when I was done, I had some tights and a warm hat.

Race morning arrived with the temperature at 32, but no snow yet and the wind had dropped to merely occasional gusts.   It looked like the gods had been a little kind (only a little). So about 400 of us got off at 10:00 AM and I felt pretty good. I actually took my gloves off at mile 4 and ran without them until the wind got quite cold around mile 9.

My goal was to do a 1:40 and I started out pretty well, averaging 7:30s for the first 5 miles. At mile six I got lazy (or perhaps to be more charitable, lost concentration) and I started falling off the pace. I used the oldest trick in the book: I would pick someone slightly ahead of me going slightly faster and slowly reel him or her in one after another. At mile 10 I fell off again and I did a mental calculation that I would need to do 7:40s from there to the end. Unfortunately it was getting rather cold at this point and I foolishly dropped my hat when I was maneuvering it. Damn! Since I just paid good money for this hat the day before, I went back and picked it up and then carried on, loosing precious seconds. The next couple of miles were tough and by the steep little bitch of a hill under the railroad trestle at mile 13 I was a little shy of my goal with not enough space to make it up. I saw the finish line clock turn over from 1:39:59 to 1:40:00 but I was still a ways from the finish (good eyes!). I crossed at 1:40:20, only slightly disappointed. You might say I was in sight of a 1:40. Anyway I'll take it.

At the awards lunch, we had hot soup, homemade herb bread and brownies. Wonderful! I found I was 5th in my age group so that was very satisfying. I also bumped into Kathleen Nitschelm, a founding Flyer, who had come with her family from her home in southern New Hampshire. She managed to claim first in her age group.   Congratulations Kathleen!

On the way back we ran into some locally heavy snow and it wasn't till we hit the Merritt Parkway that we saw the sun again. As I look out my window and see the sunlit crowds watching the Yankees parade, I almost wonder if it all really happened.

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