Sunday, February 22, 2009

Kingman Farm Moonlight Snowshoe Race

Yesterday's race experience began with me frantically looking for a headlamp. I own 2 of them, but never use them. The halo effect gives me a headache so I prefer hand held lights to run with. The Kingsman Farm race specifically required a headlamp so I had to find one. After searching through 3 boxes of ultrarunning and hiking supplies I gave up. I reluctantly went to look in my 21-year-old son's room so I could borrow his headlamp. He was out ice fishing for the day and wasn't around for me to ask. I waded through the dirty clothes on his floor and scanned his shelves. There it was! Between a stack of girly magazines and a half eaten salami sandwich. See why I cringe at the idea of entering his room? Only minimally tramatized from entering forbidden territory and with headlamp in hand, I was off to the race.

The Kingman Farm race was to be run on UNH property in Madbury, NH. Chris Dunn was race director so it was sure to be a quality event. This would be my last snowshoe race of the season. I have had a blast running them. Snowshoe racing gave me the opportunity to reunite with my long lost friend, Oxygen Debt. I never realized I missed him so much! It has allowed me to meet a different group of runners than I normally rub elbows with. There were so many friendly and fun people at these races. When I run an ultra there is so much invested in it...time, money, training,'s a big deal. In a snowshoe race I pay 10 bucks to register, slap on the snowshoes, and go tromp around in the woods. It feels so relaxed.

So I drove to the race with a light heart and not a care in the world (other than a few flashbacks from my son's room). I took a short warm up in my snowshoes and then lined up for the start. A voice beside me said, "I didn't expect to see you here. This is a 5K you know?" It was ultrarunning extrordinaire, Rich Collins. Rich can handily beat me at a fifty miler and I was psyched that I had been running hard at these races all winter and might be able to beat Rich for a change!

The runners were off fast, the trail turned onto single track about 1/4 mile into the race and people were trying to get into a good position while it was easy to pass. My legs felt great! On the single tack I fell in behind a train of runners and was happy with the pace. Each time the trail widened I picked up a few places. I felt like I was putting in a steady hard effort. At the last two races I had lapses where I lost focus and backed off the pace for short periods. I did better staying on task this time.

I kept picking off runners, and was also picked off myself a couple of times. Finally there were only 3 runners in the train ahead of me. We were probably 3K into the race on narrow climbing trail with switchbacks. Climbing has definitely been my strength in all the snowshoe races. I squeaked by each of them, one at a time. I had just passed the last one when I turned right and led them all off course. I led them down hill following snowshoe tracks and soon saw other snowshoe runners who had been behind us crossing the trail in front of us. Whoops. We turned around and climbed back to the race course. I don't think we lost any places during that short time off trail, but there I was back behind the three runners I had just passed.

Heading down hill in the dark on the switchbacks was tricky but a lot of fun! I got around the guys in front of me again and could hear the finish line comotion off to my right for quite a while before I actually got there. It was a good motivator and I tried to really push through this last part. I felt faster and stronger than I had at the end of any of the previous snowshoe races and I didn't get out-sprinted at the finish line! It was a nice season finale. And next time Rich kicks my butt in a 50 miler, I will innocently ask, "remember that 5K snowshoe race in Madbury?"

I won a 12 pack of Redhook for first woman master and a really nice cap for running each of the series races. During the raffle I won another twelve pack and gave it to Tom for getting me into this crazy sport. I was second woman in the series and Rochester Runners finished as 3rd team with Tom Littlefield, Liz Bowden, Faye Lowrey, Kathy Paradis and Sinthy Kounlasa all racing for Rochester Runners in at least one race, and Diane Levesque, Brian Gallagher, and myself running for Rochester in every race in the series.

Snowshoe racing took me away from some of the winter hiking and skiing I normally do on winter weekends, but I have loved every minute of it. I will definitey be back racing in the snow next year.

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