Saturday, February 14, 2009
Horse Hill 7K Snowshoe Race
picture taken by Steve Wolfe
What a beautiful day to be out on snowshoes! There wasn't a cloud in the sky and the temperature was very comfortable with just a little cold nip in the wind . The race took place on the trails of Horse Hill Nature Preserve in Merrimack, New Hampshire. I arrived in time for a 3 mile warm up on the road followed by about a mile on the trail in snowshoes. The snow was firm and fast, with just a little loose granular in spots where the sun was beating down. I was happy with the conditions and knew it would be fun running. But I also thought the fast running conditions might be a hindrance to my placing well. I think I have a lot of strength and stamina, but not a whole lot of speed.
I'm guessing about 50 runners lined up for the start. I saw many familiar faces. Rochester Runners' regular snowshoe racers , Brian and Diane were there. It was also nice to see Emily at the start, I think it might have been her first snowshoe race. There was the usual wall of orange Dungeon Rock Racers near the front. Acidotic's Liz Hall stood beside me at the start and introduced herself. I already knew who she was because I have been chasing her for almost two months now. She has the top spot in the Granite State Race Series and I was hoping to gain a few points on her today, or at least not loose too many to her.
I felt good early in the race. I was right in front of Liz for the first 2 1/2 kilometers or so. I tried to push hard on the uphills to put some distance on her so when we got to the second half of the race, which I had been told was the faster half, I might be able to hold her off. But when the course leveled off Liz was right on my heels. It was single track through this part so I asked if she was ready to pass so I could move over for her to go by. Instead of saying what she was probably thinking, "yea, get out of the way poky," she kindly said, "sure, I'll pull for a while." She "pulled" me the same way BJ "pulls" me when we are bike riding, too fast for me to stay on. I stuck for a hundred yards or so and then fell off the back. Liz steadily gained distance on me for the remainder of the race.
I pushed as hard as I could and enjoyed the trail. It was fun with curves and hills and a lot of variety. I could only see one runner in front of me and I didn't hear anyone behind me for most of the second half of the race. It was hard to keep pushing and not just relax my pace. A few times I started getting a little lazy, but then I'd remind myself this was supposed to be hard work and I'd re-focus.
Before the race Diane's friend Bob, who was running his first snowshoe race had asked if our bindings ever came loose during the races. We all said no, we never had that happen. Well he must have jinxed me, because with less than a mile to go my right heel slipped out of the back binding. It only took a second to tighten it up but I thought it was a pretty strange coincidence. I don't think it actually loosened, I think I hadn't tightened the front bindings enough and my foot slipped forward on the downhill.
On the last uphill I passed the guy in front of me. I recognized the trail as the same one we had started on so I knew we were almost home. I pushed hard through here with one goal in mind, I wanted this to be the first snowshoe race where I wasn't out-kicked at the end. I knew I didn't have much of a kick so I decided to get ahead of this guy so he wouldn't be able to race me to the finish line. It was working, I could hear him dropping back and I could see the finish area. I smiled, finally a race where I won't get passed at the end! Suddenly I heard his shoes really digging in and turning over fast. I tried, but he went by me like I was standing still. All I could do was shake my head and keep smiling.
Mike, of 3C Race Productions put on a nice event. The course was nicely laid out and well marked, results were posted very quickly, and the awards were done promptly after the last finishers came in. After the awards, a very nice 3C Race Productions jacket was given away in a raffle. Lucky for me, Brian won the jacket and since he and Diane already each had one he gave it to me!
Next week will be my last snowshoe race of the year. It's time to start concentrating on specific training for Massanutten, including 5-6 hour long trail runs and Green Mountain hill repeats. I mentioned this to BJ on the phone while I was driving back to Maine. He reminded me that I couldn't go into ultra mode yet, I still had to beat Trey at a 5K road race. I haven't run a 5K in about 8 years, but I have to come out of retirement to try to beat Trey. Trey is BJ's 13-year-old nephew and he has beaten all the adults in his extended family at the 5K distance. I am not exactly family, but they are calling me in as a ringer. I hope I'm up to the task.