Hardcastle Storms the Mountain

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We couldn’t get Somerville Road Runner Kath Hardcastle on camera after her dominating win at the Pack Monadnock 10 Miler, but we finally caught up with her via the interweb. Kath ran a 64:11 and came pretty damn close to Gina Lucrezi’s course record of 73:25. Considering that minutes can be gained or lost on that last climb, Kath was very close to the mark. Here’s our interview with the early season favorite to take the USATF-NE Mountain Series overall championship.

So are you a newcomer to the mountains? I didn’t see your name in the series standings from last year. If you are new, what brought you out?

Noop, not a newcomer. I ran this series in 2011 I think. I moved to Montana in 2012 and then back to New England (Boston) earlier this year. I have been eagerly anticipating the beginning of the mountain circuit. I thoroughly enjoy all of the courses and the people they attract. It’s a superb group; welcoming, encouraging and every so slightly potty.

Pack Monadnock is a notoriously difficult course. Were you familiar with it? What was the plan?

I had a vague memory of the course but apparently I had forgotten just how hard it was! No shortage of hills the entire way. I’m still testing the proverbial waters being 3 weeks out from the Boston marathon so my goal with the mountain races is to have fun and love running. As we all know the first few months of the year were not terribly forgiving, like many people I found marathon training more mentally demanding than ever. I may have fallen out of love with running a few times. The mountain races are correcting this sad state of affairs.

I suppose my plan was to start conservatively and ease into a rhythm, that sort of happened until about mile 7 when I wanted to stop for ice cream and dip in the river.

What did you hit your first mile in?

Kath takes on the last bit of the climb at Pack Monadnock, courtesy of SNAPacidotic.

I don’t know, I didn’t look at my watch until the final climb and that was just to count down the mile tenths. I did download the file but I only looked at my last mile time… it wasn’t pretty.

You had quite a gap on the rest of the women. Was that intentional, or were you just focusing on your own race?

You never know who’s going to rock up at these races and a couple of the seasoned girls will sometimes come out of nowhere. These races are for tough women who never give up. So yes I suppose I did intend to get some time cushion in the first 7 or 8 miles since I know my speed is pretty good and wasn’t sure how much strength I had for the big climb. But at the same time I did want to enjoy the run and listen to my body because I know that a hard marathon can take a few weeks to express itself.

Were you making an effort to conserve for that last, hard climb?

I thought I was until mile 7 or 8 ish when I didn’t want to run anymore! Gosh those hills were relentless. Bizarrely the sip of water at the last station before we turned on to the main road revived me a little and although it was a long drag, I started to feel a bit more in control and I was conscious of preparing for the climb. Earlier on, yes, I tried to keep a comfortable just-trying-a-little-bit rhythm.

Are you doing any special climbing training?

Well… it depends which way you look at it. For the last two races, a group of fellow SRR racers and I have hiked up to a nearby shelter and camped out the night before, hiking down in the morning to get to the race. You could call this poor preparation or warming up!

What did you hit the last mile in?

Oh gosh. Eleven something…. I was a bit naughty and had seen there were no women close and so I was really just surviving. It was so hard!

Full recap to follow shortly…

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