Tuesday, March 11, 2014

2014 Granite State Snowshoe Championships

Wow, it was the last snowshoe race of the year and I am glad it is over and thrilled with what I was able to accomplish. The Granite State Snowshoe Championships held at Bear Brook State Park in New Hampshire ended up being the most difficult of the 6 snowshoe races I ran this winter and the fifth Saturday in a row that I had a race. The course was designed to be more difficult than the USA National Championships held last week in Vermont and it didn't disappoint.

Saturday was another perfect day for racing and at the start of the 10K course I felt pretty good. Without really trying, I found myself a few minutes into the race easily running with much faster athletes. I was almost feeling like a runner again and it must be due to dropping about 12 pounds in the previous three weeks as it certainly is not my training. Again, I am only training by riding my ElliptiGO indoors on a bike trainer with the only actual running being the weekly snowshoe race.

After a few minutes on the course, we started going up some hills. I felt good on the uphills despite the challenge of running on them. I also realized I was ahead of many racers that I had not beaten all year. Of course, my goal this year was just to have fun and not worry about competition, but all of a sudden I was dreaming of being competitive.

I was keeping my pace on the uphills, but all uphills lead to downhills and twisty turn-filled downhills are not my forte with my bad hip. I do not have the stability and mobility or even the hip strength to charge down a hill. About halfway into the race, I started stopping to let racers go by me, so they could surf the downhills at a faster pace then mine. When we hit the very steep uphills, I tended to catch back up to most of the racers who had passed me.

Then we started getting steeper downhills and I had to slow way down. I was tripping a lot (about 5 times in the race) and when you trip on a downhill, you can hit the ground pretty hard (or a tree or a rock and you could possibly fall down a 30 foot cliff-like drop that you are racing across). I was embarrassed to have to really dig in on these sections in a bid to slow to a pace my hip could handle. When I let other racers by, they seemed to be enjoying rocketing down the hills and they were quickly out of view. I felt like a Volkswagen racing Ferraris. The two biggest uphills were on the second half of the course and were unlike anything I have seen in yet snowshoe racing. On one steep incline I took a step forward, but lurched back and actually lost a couple of steps. Of course at the end of the two big uphills, there would be some screaming downs, and I lost so much time just trying to stay on my feet. In the last half of the race, I lost at least 12 places and looking at the results, either they were speeding up or I was slowing down. It was that I was slowing down as I ran with fear in my eyes on some of the downhills.

When I finally hit the flat ground closer to the finish I was so beat up that I had I hard time chugging it in at a faster pace. I finished 2nd overall in the 50-59 age group in the final championship results mostly because the fast guys didn't' race enough times to get a final score. I started the season, not even sure if I could race one event. I ended up having a good time at the six races that I did and enjoyed being out and challenging myself with like-minded fitness enthusiasts. I also learned the the ElliptiGO can keep me in decent enough shape to compete at an acceptable level in a sport more grueling than running. After each race, it takes about 2 days to recover from limping on my bad hip. I am still limping three days after this race. I have no plans for any more running for awhile, but I have already started planning how to get my hip into better shape for next year's snowshoe season. I also need to let my ankles recover. Four races ago, at the Kingman Farm race, my ankles were bloody and gouged from my snowshoes hitting them. During each of the next snowshoe races, I beat them bloody again. I need to learn a protective strategy for my ankles. I also need to learn the secret to where to place my foot in the shoeshoe. I got new bindings for my Dion snowshoes before the race in Vermont, and they were easier to tighten and I think I have tightened them so much that my feet are far too forward (at least according to other racers). That may be another reason that I was tripping too much in the last two races!

Once again, snowshoe racers are pleased to see the photo galleries of some great photographers. Thanks Gianina, Joe, and Scott.

Gianina Lindsey "SnapAcidotic" Gallery here.
Joe Viger gallery here.
Scott Mason gallery here.

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