Long-time Strider Erzsie Nagy sent in this race report from New Zealand where she is studying abroad. Erzsie is a junior at Middlebury College, where she runs cross country and track. When she competed for Lawrence High School, she was a multiple state champion and all-time fastest high school girl in the 800 meters.
by Erzsie Nagy
While it was definitely a hard decision to miss track season this spring at Middlebury, I am 100 percent sure that I made the right choice in studying abroad here in New Zealand. The only time that I’ve been on a track this semester was during a casual beer mile, but that’s not to say that I haven’t been racing.
I have been lucky (or crazy…?) enough to compete in some really cool mountain races, which has been something that I’ve always wanted to do. Unlike any races I have ever done, I am learning the beauty of racing on trails for over an hour at a time.
The first mountain race I entered here was called Three Peaks, a 26-km course that covered three mountains. This was my first time running with a backpack because we had to carry compulsory gear (leggings, rain jacket, gloves, hat) in case the weather took a turn for the worse. After my first experience with mountain races several weeks ago, my love of running was definitely revitalized. Running the Three Peaks mountain race was unlike anything I had ever done, and it pushed the preconceived limits that I had set for myself.
Once my legs had recovered from that 26-km adventure, I searched for another opportunity to test myself. Luckily, New Zealand has heaps of these things; I discovered the Queenstown Mountain Run and signed up after convincing a couple of friends to run it with me. I hadn’t been to Queenstown yet, and this seemed like a pretty solid excuse to visit.
I tried to think back to Three Peaks and my mentality going into that race. One of the reasons that I think it went so well for me was because I had no expectations. I ran to finish, to see what I was capable of, because it seemed like a cool thing to try out. Admittedly, it was harder to have that mindset for the Queenstown Mountain Run because I knew from that experience that I had a chance to place highly.
There were 4km, 8km, and 12km races, so naturally I picked the longest one! Because it rained the ENTIRE week in Queenstown leading up to the race, the courses had to be changed. So the race was essentially a hill workout on crack.
For the 12km race, we completed four loops up to the Skyline gondola and then back to a midway point along the course (but I think this was actually easier than the initial course because of the large amount of downhill in between each ascent).
I was surprisingly pretty calm at the starting line, and three key lessons that I learned from Three Peaks really helped me:
On the fourth and final loop, I was passed by the woman who ended up winning the women’s open 12 km. I was less than a minute behind her, and while it would have been nice to win (obviously), I did what I could. I am realizing more that I can only control myself during a race so there is no point in worrying about my competitors. When I was passed, I didn’t quit. I pushed myself the right amount and crossed the finish line in about an hour and a half, smiling!
It is so nice to finish a race without the delirium that I have been battling the past two cross-country seasons. I felt so accomplished and proud of my body, and I remembered the entire thing! And now NO hill on any cross-country course will ever feel impossible.
Erzsie finished the 26km Three Peaks Mountain Race on April 10, 2016, as the second place female in 2:51:00. She finished the 13km Queenstown Mountain Run on May 14, 2016, as the second place open female in 1:29:00.223.
Congratulations, Erzsie! Thanks for sharing, this race report and representing Striders so well in New Zealand.
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