Tuesday, February 25, 2014

2014 Exeter Hullabaloo Snowshoe Race

There are a lot of things I enjoy about snowshoe racing:
- getting outdoors running through the woods in the middle of winter-it is beautiful!
- every course and every day is completely different with snow amounts and types of snow
- it is slower paced than regular running (good for me as I still haven't recovered my stride after hip surgery)
- it is much more intense and difficult than regular running
- when you are racing in a paceline on singletrack, you are forced to keep your pace
- winding up and down hills and around trees on courses through the woods can be exhilarating
- it reminds me of road racing in the 1970s and triathlons in the 1980s, being in on a developing sport long before the masses figure out that they are missing out on along with all the camaraderie with the other racers who know they are on to a very good thing!
-there are all these great photographers that show up at many races and take pictures to show how awesome snowshoe racing is and how wonky my stride is! Thanks Scott Mason, Joe Viger, and Gianani Lindsey.

This weeks snowshoe race was the 4 mile Exeter Hullaballoo (great name-results).This was my first time doing this race and I had another challenging blast of a time! I started this one a little too far back in the pack and after the start I tried to maneuver around slower racers as there was two lines of singletrack to race on. I didn't improve my position enough and shortly ended up in the singletrack section in a long paceline. I was fourth from the front, but there were no opportunities to pass for the first mile of racing. I felt comfortable and in control all throughout this time which made the running very enjoyable (and true to my desire to run and not really race this year) I was OK with that. The old me, however, was a little dissatisfied that the lead runner being a bit too slow and that a large gap was developing from other racers ahead of us. Eventually, I passed some racers and the lead position stepped aside so I could run ahead. Of course, eventually a few others followed behind me and that put me in the position of setting the pace.

Photos of the race by Scott Mason
This was a twisty-turny singletrack course (which course isn't?) and with the ups and downs, I had a hard time gauging if I was too slow for those behind me. Usually when I offered for someone to go ahead if they liked. They deferred. I caught up to two other races and kept pace behind them for a good portion of the race (never catching them however). A few racers did go by and we caught a few that had gone out too fast. I was getting tired as I had started a new diet over the week (no sugars, startch, bread) and just an egg for breakfast, some veggies and small amount of meat for lunch and dinner with only nuts for snacks. I lost almost 10 pounds since the race last week. I expected to be a little low on energy and I was, but pretty soon the finish line showed up and I had completed another race on very limited run training. I had one other 5 mile treadmill run this week. Any running leaves me limping for a day or so, so I am basically ElliptiGO powered in these races! I still have less than 100 total running miles since last May!

Like all snowshoe races, I feel wonderful and exhausted when done!

Even the guys up front have trouble staying on their feet!

Now here are a few things I don't like about snowshoe racing.
- it is hard work! usually during every race I question what in the world I am doing out there?
- because of my stride, my snowshoe can hit into my ankles. Both of my ankles were very bloody and sore after last weeks race. I made them even worse after this race. I will have to rig up some sort of protection around my ankles for the next two race (both 10ks). I saw some people doing this last race.
- tripping and falling (see photo above)
- my stride...my left tibia still rotates out- I can't change that- and it constantly throws off my stride-this is magnified on snowshoes... I can't keep a straight line going at times and I am constantly trying to keep upright and on the tracks-this takes a lot of energy-every stumble and mistep slows me down.

Here are some photos from Gianina Lindsey of SNAPacidotic that shows my dilemma real well. My wonky left side throws me sideways and off the singletrack where I end up working hard to get myself running on the course instead.

This Saturday I am racing in the 2014 Dion Snowshoes National Snowshoe Championships in Bennington, Vermont. I am racing for Acidotic Racing in the age group competition and on a Master's team. I am very nervous about this race as the longest I have run since May is a 5 mile treadmill run last week. I will be racing a 10k on the snow in the mountains! I am there to be part of and enjoy the milieu and mix and expect to be far back in the pack of racers, but it should be fun! Then the next week will be my last snowshoe race of the year at the Granite State Snowshoe Series Championships. Currently I am in third place in the 50-60 year old age group. I started the season not even sure my hip would allow me to race at all and I am ending the season (still with a sore hip) at the National Championship race and placing in my age group (more for consistency) in the race series. I may be slow, but I have enjoyed my winter.

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