Saturday, January 17, 2009

Beaver Brook 5K snowshoe race

The Beaver Brook 5K was another great snowshoe event. Just over 50 runners competed, which is pretty remarkable when you consider that this race was put together over just a two week period of time. I started off with a 3 mile warm up on the road with my dog, Bart. Then I put him back in the jeep and promised I'd be back "really fast." I was trying to think positive, but I don't think Bart was convinced.

We started the race with a mad sprint across a field of light fluffy snow before taking a sharp turn onto the Cow Path Trail. After the race, my friend likened that run across the field to the mass start of the swim leg in a triathlon...hundreds of arms and legs flailing, water (in this case snow) churned up and flying everywhere, and competitors bumping into each other. My heart was racing through this first bit of the course, partly because of the effort and partly because I was afraid I'd fall and get snow-shoed to death.

Once we turned onto the Cow Path Trail there was the usual shuffling about for position. I saw almost immediately that I wouldn't be keeping pace with fellow Rochester Runner, Brian on this day. I had done pretty well staying with him on last week's Pooh Hill race, but this was a shorter and faster race. I feel out of my element with short and fast. I had glanced at the course map and in my mind it was broken up into 4 segments. First was a steady slight decline along the Cow Path. This was pretty well packed on both sides of the double track with loose snow in the middle. Through here I was already sucking wind, but holding a good pace.

The next section was the flatter Beaver Brook trail, which we followed to its end before turning around and coming back the same route. Going out, I was looking for the front runners on their way back because it would mean I was coming to the half way point. Finally, there they were. I couldn't wave or cheer much, this 5K business is really hard.

I was already exhausted at the turn around, but I told myself "who cares? It's just a little more than a mile to go!" I pushed hard through this next section back over the Beaver Brook Trail. I suddenly realized that I was just running, not really worrying about the snowshoe part of things. Maybe I was finally getting used to them!

We hit the intersection and turned back onto the Cow Path. The last stretch was payback for the downhill first stretch. I tried to catch somebody, anybody, on this last part. I had established a position in the first half mile or so and not given up or gained a place since. This was supposed to be a race and I wanted to do some racing, darn it! There was a short steep section where I finally passed the guy who had been in front of me. Then, of course, I had to keep pushing so he wouldn't pass me back. I heard grunts and gasps coming from somewhere and thought the guy behind me was trying to pass me back. But no, it was just me.

I actually doubled over with my hands on my knees after the finish, as if I had just run the 400 in the olympics. You gotta love it! These races are so much fun. As with all trail events, everyone is friendly and welcoming. Also, I love the fact that these races are so different from what I have been doing so I have plenty of room for improvement. And I love that snowshoe racing is making me work hard during these usually lazy winter months.

I took a 2 mile cool down out on the road with Bart. My legs felt so light and fast after taking the snow shoes off! My next race is in 2 weeks at the Cobble Mountain 5K. I can't wait!

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