It’s not a hill, it’s a mountain

A sign, which will be in snowier conditions, I hope to see on February 17th.

I am a master lyric screwer-upper, and I often mentally invert those lyrics from U2's song I'll Go Crazy if I Don't Go Crazy Tonight to sing in my mind: it's a hill, not a mountain, as I start up the climb.

Which is a good thing, considering my next challenge: the Mt. Taylor Winter Quadrathlon. Let me save you from clicking on the link and give you the basics:

Mt. Taylor=11,301 feet high, in Northern New Mexico
Winter=February 19. 2011
Quadrathlon=bike, run, cross-country ski, snowshoe. If you're quadding on Mt. Taylor, you do those four things to the summit--21 miles one-way--then turn around and head right back down, doing them in reverse order.

A little background, so you don't think I'm totally crazy. I used to live in Santa Fe, and had heard from a couple people about this race: it's unique, it's well-run, it's a shot of inspiration during the season it's easy to hibernate through. So when an editor at Runner's World asked for pitches for winter races, I immediately thought: quadrathlon. I pitched it with the specifics, but didn't really digest what biking uphill for 13 miles, then running uphill for 5, then skiing for 2 and snowshoeing for 1, then flipping around and heading down would feel like. Or how long it would take.

She said yes, and I said yes! And then I looked into the race results from last year. The female winners come in around four-and-a-half hours. The rest of my 35-40 age group? Well, there were six of them total--it's not exactly a race for the masses--and two were in the 5.5 hour range, one was around 7 hours, and one was around 8. 5 hours. Which, by my calculation, is a full day of hilling/mountaining.


Once I realized the severity of my commitment, I decided to approach it this way: I'll do my best to do my best. I'll train hard, but I'm only training five days a week. Despite the results being published in a national magazine (in February 2012), I'm going to remove my ego from the situation. I'm confident I'm going to see that finish line, one way or another, and that, for a race like this, is good enough.

As freaked as I am, I'm also excited for a few reasons:
1. Uphill is good for form changes in running. Short steps, strong arms, slight forward lean. When Christopher McDougall wrote about changing his form in Born to Run, he started with a lot of hill work. So I've got that going for me.

2. The cross-training is going to be interesting--at least once I figure out how to skate-ski--and good for my bod. After my last injury, I realize, from here on out, I can run 3 days a week, max. The other activities will compliment my running, and, I'm hoping, only make me a better runner.

3. If I'm pressed to name an athletic strength, it's my overall strength. While the length of this race might do me in, the disciplines--and their requirements for strong quads and glutes and core--are right up my alley.

4. I can't hibernate. I'll be skiing on some Saturdays (got that, weatherwoman? snow please! no more 75 degree days!) I  I hope to enter a snowshoe race, I'll be figuring out how to stay warm on the bike in the winter. While I'm not totally gung-ho about these aspects yet, I'm on board because they're necessary means to an end. And I need a goal. I haven't trained with purpose for almost 9 months, and it's time to get some focus back.

5. Finally, I've roped in my good pal Marit  to train with me. She's a mom to an almost one-year-old and lives in Park City, Utah, so we'll just be comparing notes via e-mail, but we've trained virtually together before (in that other, pre-kid life) and met up for a triathlon and had a ball. I'm expecting no less from this round.

As bad as I am at lyrics--blinded by the light, wrapped up like a douche you know that runner in the night--I'm equally as bad as studying race course profiles. Pre-race, I figure, why freak out? I'm gonna be out there anyway, and I'll get this thing done. So at least for the next 6 weeks, it's all about just feeling fit and strong again, and just telling myself, despite what Bono says, it's a hill, not a mountain.

Anybody else on board for the Mt. Taylor Quad? Or a more sane winter race?

21 responses to “It’s not a hill, it’s a mountain

  1. I always sing “Raspberry Sorbet” instead of raspberry beret for some odd reason.

    This is *right* up one of my running bud’s alley. I sent her the link. Maybe she’ll see you there. Her idea of fun is avoiding lift ticket fees and running up the mountain to ski back down.

  2. Love your approach and as my daughter would say “your best is perfect”. Sounds like fun…for you, not me. 🙂 Can’t wait to read all about it.

  3. I love this! I really love that you didn’t let your recent injury scare you off this crazy race. Seriously, it sounds a little crazy, but I know you can do it. I’m a little jealous, except for the biking portion(which I hate) it sounds like so much fun, and like a life changing type of event. Good for you!! (And, I myself, keep McDougall in my head nearly every time I run. Talk about life changing – that book – so good).

  4. Girl, you are freaking amazing! Sounds incredible and like something I could only dream of. How could someone in WI train for that altitude? We have the snow and I could even come up with some hills, but not the thin air. Looking forward to hearing the blow by blow.

  5. Unbelievable ! That is what you are! I am sticking to my sheet metal screws in my shoes and running the hilly, icy, snowy, neighborhood streets around town this winter. But our group of sistas will be thinking about you! Go mama go!

  6. “Revved up like a deuce,” Dim. I’ve always wondered what those lyrics really were and now I know. And they’re so perfect too. We can consider ourselves a duo for this race, aka a “deuce.” And revved up is exactly what we will be.

    Here’s to not hibernating!

  7. Wow what a challenge!!
    I wish they had winter races where I live…sadly we have no winter : we have really hot and hot, sometimes cool….for a couple days..! Me being a Canadian gal, I miss the real cold winter and I would be up for a challenge like this one!!
    Happy training to you D!

  8. Wow! That sounds…kind of scary! But good for you!! I don’t have any races this winter but am going to train hard so that I don’t die at mile 10 of my next 1/2 marathon. Once that’s accomplished, I’ll think about a full marathon.

  9. Very cool, can’t wait to read about this in the Feb issue. Also introduces other avenues for racing, and what I always love, the first time you do something, it’s an automatic PR! Have fun.

  10. What a great challenge! And I hear exactly what you hear in those Manfred Mann lyrics. Finally today, I actually looked to see what they are: “revved up like a deuce.” Nope. It’ll always be wrapped up like a douche to me!

  11. This sounds fun., like something for the book. I’d need to get better at running downhill.

    “Chasing the Runner’s High: My Sixty Million-Step Program” is the story of how I pushed my addiction to running up to, and then past, my limits. I share what I’ve learned, what I should have learned, and what I still have to learn from running.

    Marshall Ulrich, 4 time winner of the Badwater Ultramarathon (and clearly a really nice guy) says my book “provides a hard look into the mind of a runner, offering advice that can only be had with experience and hard fought miles underfoot.” Adena Schulzberg, winner of the 2006 Arkansas Marathon, writes, “these are brutally honest tales, told with candor and frankness about strength, courage, obsession, desire and hard won understanding of self and sport.”

    “Chasing the Runner’s High” is only $12.99 for the trade paperback or you can name your own price for the eBook! There’s a sample chapter from the book on my site:

    A portion of the proceeds from sales of Chasing the Runner’s High will be donated to charity. When you order the book from my site, you get to help direct how that money is distributed.

    You can also help by forwarding this message to your running friends, or your friends who want to understand more about why anyone spends all that time running 🙂

    I hope you enjoy the book! If you would like additional information, let me know.

    Thanks for your consideration,
    Ray Charbonneau
    Arlington, MA
    — My book!

  12. Cool! Sounds lile the perfect comeback race for you, Dimity! I’m a total lover of winter sports and I know I can do those 4 things…separately and in MN. I think stringing them together twice….and at that altitude would suck the life out of me, literally! So, instead I’ve got a Polar Dash 10k on 1/1/11 and will try a 10k snow shoe race in Feb. that some friends did last year. Love snow shoeing – could do a little virtual snow shoeing with you, fingers crossed that the weather cooperates!

  13. You are seriously my cross-training idol! I run….thats it…although I will be purchasing a bike with my husband this coming spring because after running on my poor knees (and left hip that will never be the same after a pelvic stress fx) for 19years they are starting to hurt more. I adore hills as well….so in reality this sound like fun!!!! Good luck, stay healthy and I look forward to hearing more about it!

  14. I am thinking about a 22 mile winter race in the midwest where you have your choice of biking, XC skiing or biking. I’d probably run, maybe XC ski – wish I could do both. The Mt. Taylor race sounds fun! (In a way.) I read a blog of a guy who did the race I am thinking about and he said the water he carried froze — this is a “carry your own”. Anyone have ideas to keep water from freezing?

    1. You can buy some time by turning your water bottle upside down. That way ice doesn’t start forming near the mouth piece. When you need a sip, you turn the water bottle right-side up–the ice is now at the bottom. Course, you want to make sure your water bottle doesn’t leak if it’s held upside down before you try this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*Exclusions Apply

Want some mother runner insipiration with special content and deals? 

You will receive an email within the next 24 hours with your discount code!