I really thought that I would have loads to say after Mt. Washington a few weekends ago. It was, after all, anxiously anticipated by me for weeks. And months. And to sort of a weirdly obsessive extent. There have really only been a couple of previous occasions where I was as nervous as I was on race day this go-around, given that the ultimate goal for the last couple years was to win it again, and one only has so much control over an outcome.
So pop quiz: what do Super Mario and Mt. Washington have in common? About as much as you may think. In other words, nothing really. But, descend with me for a moment, into the black hole of lunacy otherwise known as my imagination.
For months this race loomed in my psyche in much the same way as—bear with me for a moment here, I’m trying real hard to convey the feeling adequately—the inevitable duel that Super Mario knew that he would eventually be subject to with King Bowser in level 8 of the original Super Mario Brothers. Mario spends level after level fighting small fry villains: those little turtles and evil mushrooms (I’ve never understood the recurring mushroom theme in that game) and Venus fly traps and whatever else (I really don’t remember, I mean, this was the 90’s folks, and I was like 5 years old.) all so that he can take on Bowser and rescue the Princess!
Now to complete my weird analogy: I ran a bunch of workouts and local races (that is to say, I fought evil mushrooms and winged turtles, metaphorically speaking) for several months, with some good ones in there that buoyed me up like an Extra-Life, and a few bad ones and occasional bumps in the road that necessitated going back and starting the level over again, all in the hopes of ultimately defeating King Bowser (Mt. Washington).
And I did, and I didn’t die and get a Game Over, and finally I rescued the Princess instead of being thwarted by a diaper-wearing toadstool:
Forgive me. I really had to reach for all of that. But that is what it felt like.
No but in all seriousness, let’s talk reality for just a sec, even though I suck at that. Although I promise to spare everyone an actual mind-numbing race recap.
Race day was a wonderful day accompanied by the usual abundance of wonderful humans who always seem to be a part of that particular race, though with a notable few missing (Kim Dobson and Peter Maksimow to name a couple from the usual crew of Coloradoans). Times were a fair bit slower across the board for everybody, likely attributed to the warm and somewhat muggy conditions of race day. I’m also told there was an “inversion.” I don’t know what that means. For a mountain that boasts the highest recorded wind-speeds on earth, there wasn’t a puff of wind to be found either above or below treeline. Still though, it’s always easy to say you could’ve run faster if this or that, and that might be true, or it might not be. Because really, if it wasn’t hot and humid, it could’ve been hurricane-caliber winds, or snow, or who knows what else. Everyone fights the same conditions, all you can ever do is show up and throw down. Bowser don’t care.
Cool. So now I just said all of that right after I began this post with the claim that I didn’t really have anything profound to say regarding the race. Super Mario analogy aside, I suppose the reason I feel that way is because I anticipated it so much for so long, and felt like I had so much to prove to myself (namely, to prove to myself that I still had “it.” Whatever “it” actually even is.). I suppose I thought that accomplishing what I had made a pact with myself to achieve about this time last year, would somehow be a total game-changer. And I did feel pretty good about it, it’s always comforting to find in this sport that yes, you can have a crummy year or two or five, but you can always get back on the horse and keep fighting the fight and you’ll be A-Okay, and maybe this shouldn’t be so surprising when it happens.
While I enjoyed it, and was happy about it, and thankful for it, and I appreciated it, and I fully intend to do it again, I went back home afterward and it was business as usual. While I’m sure Mario’s winning the heart of Princess Peach following his epic battle might have altered the course of his pixelated life, a much-anticipated race followed by an equally anticipated outcome does not. At one time, a good race result certainly would have dictated how I felt about life, but now it doesn’t. Perhaps that sounds like a bad thing? It’s not. Hooray for personal happiness and self-identity not being inextricably intertwined with a race outcome. That’s how I see it at least. So, I suppose that there was at least one slight epiphany that resulted from the experience.
But, for anybody else who was a child of the late 80’s/early 90’s, we all know that Bowser just never really seemed to die and he just kept popping up in every sequel to kidnap the Princess again.
And sometimes, more often than not, as it turns out, we find that we are our own “Bowsers.”
Onward to the next level!