Today I ran the Cobble Mountain Snowshoe Race under sunny blue skies. Temperatures were in the high teens and there was just a slight breeze. The race took place at Gunstock Ski Area in Gilford, New Hampshire. It started out on wide groomed Nordic trails. This was a 5 1/2 KM race, which meant I had to push hard right from the start. With the wide trail there was plenty of room to pass and find my spot in the pack. I was pleasantly surprised that I was moving along at a good pace. In my first snowshoe race three weeks ago, I didn't have the technique or fitness level to do anything but watch in amazement as all the fast runners took off early in the race. Today I did a better job moving along with the faster runners. Of course, some of this change was thanks to having the right equipment. My new Dion Snowshoes made a big difference.
It felt like there was an awful lot of climbing in the first few kilometers, one hill after another. I thought to myself, "maybe this is Cobble Mountain and we are climbing it on these nice groomed trails one piece at a time with these nice flatter areas to catch our breath between the climbs. Sweet!" All too soon we turned off of the groomed trails into deep snow that had been tromped through only by the few dozen snowshoe runners in front of me. Wow, that was tough. Then we started to climb for real in that same ungroomed deep snow. I was behind a man who was taller than me and had a longer stride than me, so I had to stretch out my legs to step into his tracks. The alternative was to stride more naturally, and slip and fall into his tracks anyway. This climb was very steep and long and there was no question that this was the Cobble Mountain in the race name.
When we got to the top R.D. Chris Dunn's dad told me I was the second woman. During the entire climb up I could hear another woman behind me. She obviously had more energy than me because she had been making little quips about the climb and yelling out the occasional "Whoo-hoo" type of thing in appreciation of the climb. I decided to put some distance on her so I wouldn't have to duke it out with her at the end. I passed the guy in front of me and started flying down the hill as fast as I could in the deep snow. This was a little dangerous at times. I was sinking in so deep that it was hard to get my snowshoes to clear the snow with each push off. But I think I made good time down this technical descent.
We got back onto more firm snow and continued down. I could really open up and move through this section. I could hear the other woman, Liz Hall right behind me doing the same. We passed the 5KM mark and the trail leveled off. She pulled up beside me and started to pass. I told her she looked great, because she did! she was moving! We had a short steep hump to get over and I stayed with her to the top. Then we turned right and had about 100 yards of level packed straight-away to the finish line. It came down to every ultrarunners nightmare, a sprint to the finish! Well, she sprinted and looked darned good doing it. I kind of picked it up half a notch and was glad to find I could do that.
I am definitely doing better on the snowshoes. My quads are getting stronger and my aerobic conditioning is improving. These races are the hard fast paced stuff that my training has been lacking. I absolutely love them! And to have them be helping me reach my training goals is icing on the cake.
The finish, that's me behind Liz Hall. She had a much stronger finish than I did. .