Friday, May 9, 2014

Snowshoe National Championships

Yup, I've been remiss in updating my blog (again) - sorry. You can always follow my daily workouts over on Google+.

Since moving to the left coast my snowshoe racing career has big hit due to.......hummm.......well, lack of snow & races.  That said, I have many fond memories of snowshoe racing in New England (your fault +Dave Dunham) and consecutive snowshoe nationals appearances from 2002 until 2006.  Since then I've only raced in snowshoe nationals when they have been in the Northeast US (2010) or Oregon (2009 & 2013).  In 2013 I didn't actually race because I was co-race director when the event was held in Bend, OR. Returning to nationals in New England has been a chance to catch up with my many trail running & snowshoe friends and catch up on old times.  Old times and new tech - most of the photos on this post were taken with +Google Glass.

Me (far left) and my Central Mass Striders teammates

February 28, 2014 - So, there I was, back in New England at the most competitive snowshoe race ever held in North American and my most recent snowshoe race was at the 2010 snowshoe nationals 4 year earlier.  Ouch, this was going to hurt!  It was well below zero but that didn't stop us from waking up early for a morning run AND then running the 10k course mid-day.

Running up to the Bennington Monument - sunny & -15 degrees F.

Running the 10k course with Ken Tripp & Dave Dunham the day before the race.

Race director & masters trail running champion +Tim VanOrden. Great job on the course Tim!

What are these things on my feet! It's just like trail running - only slower!

March 1, 2014 - Race Day!  Over 200 men toed the start line including 2 elite Canadian runners & former +US Mountain Running Team members Scott Gall, +Kevin Tilton+Dave Dunham and a whole mess of really strong trail & snowshoe runners from 22 US states and 8 countries.

My good friend & executive director of the +American Trail Running Association +Nano Hobbs took this photo just prior to the start.

Early in the race before I was too winded to wave & smile.

My plan was to start the race "easy" & stay in control for the first 2k and then hammer the hill from 2k to the summit at 5k.  It seemed like a good plan until I got to 2k and was already at the limit.  Instead of picking up place on the climb, I ended up loosing a few and watched Dave pull away from me.  From then on I struggled to hold position - especially through the twisty single-track downhill and 2nd uphill to the 8k mark. 

Here's what the downhill single-track looks like - from our course preview the previous day.

The last 2k of the race was almost all fast, wide downhill.  I hoped that saving a little on the previous climb and not forcing my way past several slower runners in the single-track would save a little energy for the final push.  When we came out of the woods onto the wide trail I put the hammer down and finally started passing people again.  It wasn't all smooth sailing as race director Tim Van Orden put in some soft, narrow switchbacks within sight of the finish line to catch out runners with soft, lactic acid filled legs - like me.  I fell in one of the corners - thanks Tim.  Tim also added one last small uphill in the final 200 meters where I got re-passed by teammate Todd Callaghan after working my ass off to catch him.  Thanks again Tim.  No matter, it was all good fun and good clean competition but I was really glad to cross the finish line and get that suffering over with.  In the end I finished 31st overall and 4th in my age group.  It was my worst place finish in the 8 times I've raced snowshoe nationals.  No worries - I had fun and that's what really counts.  My GPS & heart rate data for the race is here.

The top 10 men at snowshoe nationals.  Frosty finished 8th.

March 2, 2014 - Relay Day!  Snowshoe nationals has a tradition of holding a relay race on the Sunday after the main event.  It's always a low key affair with pick-up teams and many fewer participants.  It's still a whole lot of fun and a chance to burn out your lungs over a 2.5k "sprint" course.  I joined my Central Mass Striders buddies for a masters team and took the first leg.

This is what the start of a snowshoe race looks like through +Google Glass.

Yes, costumes are encouraged for the snowshoe relay.

+Ben Nephew handing off to +Tim VanOrden for the CMS open team.

Race director Tim cheers on runners after finishing his leg of the relay.

This is how snowshoe racers do "Rock-n-Roll".

Me with Ken Tripp and Dave - thanks guys!

Dave Dunham wrote about the snowshoe nationals relay here and the 10k championship race here.  Tim Van Orden's excellent video promoting snowshoe nationals is here.  See you in 2018??