Monday, January 14, 2013

Beaver Brook Snowshoe Race

Last Sunday, I did my first race of the year. I was very happy to beat my 5k time from Thanksgiving at this year's first Freeze Your Buns race by a little over 2 minutes and was 14 seconds faster than the final Freeze Your Buns race from last year, so it is now my fastest post-surgery 5k time, but I still have a long way to go as I am still almost 4 1/2 minutes slower than my best time on the course set a few years ago. I am not sure I will ever go that fast again, but I am giving myself a couple of years till I am sure that I can't and will do everything I can to get 100% healthy again. I felt good in the race, but I am not used to breathing so hard and sustaining an effort right now.

This week, I was trying not to get sick like so many people around me. I was feeling a little off, but survived with limited running. Thursday, I went for a check-up with the physiatrist. I have done well since getting the trigger-point injections in my glutes, quads, and IT-band in December. She could not find any trigger-points this time except for a few in my hamstring, so I got three shots: two in the inner hamstring and one in the outer hamstring. Saturday, I was happy to test out my progress through snowshoe racing at the Beaver Brook Snowshoe race in Hollis, NH, actually I couldn't wait to get out there and race. I was just a little tentative about racing, particularly with going downhill, but my hip held up nicely where they did the surgery which is pretty good, because when running downhill with snowshoes your foot can slip downhill a bit every stride and I was not sure if my hip could handle that along with the demands of careening down some of the hills with the sharp corners around trees and obstacles. I still do have a lot of weakness around that hip and boy, snowshoe running is just the sport to test out how stable and strong your muscles are! Mine still have a long way to go! I was just happy to conquer the course, because I was never sure if I would be able to do this sport after getting the hip surgery and for now that is awesome and I am thrilled to be doing the things I love again. Of course, like usual I was limping after the race as my hip muscles tightened up.

All photos courtesy of Gianina Lindsey

This was my third time racing at Beaver Brook. My first snowshoe race was in 2009 at this race and I also raced in 2010 but those races were on a much flatter and straighter course. This year was more challenging. I know I am not in good shape, so I started out slow, and started picking off racers until a few minutes into the race when my left snowshoe came off. Oops!

It was warm enough for shorts, trailing Mike Wade 
 It took between 1 1/2- 2 minutes to get the thing back on my shoe. The course turned into mostly single track after that and I slowly passed about 20-30 people and was about to make another pass when it fell off again. There went another big chunk of time and I was back to chasing down and passing the same racers all over again. The good news is, I was passing racers throughout the race and only got repassed once, in the last 100 meters. The course was very beautiful and the snow was good for running on, besides the warm temperatures and melting snow. I had to be careful on the downhills until I was certain my hip would be strong, but never walked on the uphills and used those moments to pass people who had to walk. I only fell once when making a tight corner, but I was getting really beat by the end. If you want to test your fitness, there is nothing like a good snowshoe race through the hills
The end of a race is never pretty!

One racer, Timothy Lindsey, had a Go Pro camera on his head during the race. He tripped at the start, but got up and filmed some great video of what it is like to run in a snowshoe race. The race starts at the 2:30 mark. I love running with all the snow kicking up at the start during the wild rush off the line. You can see me at the 5:50 mark with the first of my two pit stops trying to get my snowshoe back on. You can also see Micheal Wade at the start unfortunately injuring his calf in his first steps and then having to walk back while I am fixing my snowshoe. I was just about to pass the camera guy when my snowshoe fell off a second time. I then had to work to pass him again, but those aren't on the film.
Race winner Jim Johnson
The race winners were Jim Johnson, with another snowshoe win despite an injured foot, and Carolyn Stocker who finished in 7th place overall. I would consider the best race to 
be that of 52 year old Jeff Litchfield who is coming off knee surgery from about the same time as my hip surgery, obviously he is doing much better than I am post surgery and he looked quite fit for a big guy (and running on snowshoes is not so easy for taller athletes). I say good for him as it is good to see a long time runner do so well. I recall running many track workouts with Jeff back in the early 1990's when he was a member of the Gate City Striders. The race was well run and the course was well marked which is not an easy job so thanks to Michael Amarello of 3C Race Productions for another well organized and fun race. Here is the website for the Granite State Snowshoe Series.

Jeff Litchfield at the start.

Last week:
Monday: 5 miles treadmill
Tuesday: 5 miles treadmill
Wednesday: 0 miles
Thursday: 8 miles treadmill at YMCA  (7:30 mile pace the whole way)
Friday: 0 miles
Saturday: 0 miles
Sunday: 4 miles Freeze Your Buns 1 5K 22:28
Total miles: 22 miles/ 2013-17 miles

This week:
Monday: 0 miles
Tuesday: 5 miles treadamill at YMCA (7:30) pace
Wednesday: 0 miles
Thursday: 0 miles trigger point injections in left hamstring
Friday: 0 miles
Saturday 4 miles Beaver Brook Snowshoe Race
Sunday: 0 miles
Total miles 9 miles/ 2013 total 26 miles


Anonymous said...

Good job Jim. What are you recovering from? I had hip surgery in September but was hoping to get some snowshoe running in this winter. I've never done it before but have always wanted to.

We'll be posting JJ's race report on the Level Renner website this week. We need to cover more of the snowshoe races.

Jim Hansen said...

Thanks, I had hip labral tear surgery (no FAI). The surgery went very well, but I had developed many years of compensations in my running (from the mid 1980s) that I am still trying to sort out. What type of surgery did you have? Snowshoe running and racing is a blast!

Anonymous said...

Mine was also for a hip labral tear. What did you mean with the (no FAI) note?

What was your recovery time? I'm just over 4 months out of surgery now and have the clearance to start running but I'm pretty hesitant.

Jim Hansen said...

I had the surgery July 2011 with Dr. McCarthy at Newton-Wellesley. FAI is Femoral Acetabular Impingement where they have to shave down the bone during surgery. That usually leads to a longer recovery. My surgery went smoothly and I was not even any given PT when I was done, until I asked for it 2 months later. I was told I could run lightly a couple of weeks after surgery and did 3 miles 3 weeks post op and an 8 miler within 2 months. I could do that, but it wasn't the best idea due to all my compensations. I have been off and on with the running since then, resting to heal and then getting up to 20-30 miles per week at times, but I still would get inflammation in the joint. I had a cortisone shot 1 year post surgery that helped with that and did 10 sessions of muscle activation technique work this fall to help with my compensations. I started to feel decent after Thanksgiving due to all the work and going gluten free. I have put some halfway decent 8 milers recently, but I still limp a bit after a hard effort.

When you start running, go with how you feel, but be careful about doing too much. I was so used to getting through workouts with pain in the past that I kept trying to push my recovery. The hip flexors, adductors, and the glutes seem to be common problem areas for myself and others post surgery. I do have some biomechanical/structural issues that have led to my compensations which seem to be the thing I am working on fixing now, but I ran for almost 30 years with this unknown problem in my hip causing all the other problems. Good luck with the recovery. It can seem slow at times, but I am glad I had the surgery as I am so much more pain-free than any time since the mid 1980s.