photo courtesy of Scott Mason
My wife says this picture reminds her of the start of a triathlon. Instead of water flying everywhere, there is snow! Or maybe instead of swimmer's caps, there are winter hats!
There is a character in the TV show "Heroes" (similar ones can be found in other comic book style movies and television series ) with the ability to stop time. In "Heroes" the world stands still and this character can go around and do things that benefit him. I was thinking that this would have been a very convenient skill to have at this years Beaver Brook 5K snowshoe race in Hollis put on by Mike at 3C Race Productions.
It was a perfect day for snowshoe racing. The light fluffy stuff was falling down and there was a fresh layer of new fallen snow everywhere. I made it to the starting line a little later than I wanted and was one of the last arrivals less than 1/2 an hour before the start. I did get to meet a bunch of my fellow snowshoe friends and see some new converts to the sport trying out their first race.
At the start of the race I somehow got positioned right on the packed down trail and ended up closer to the front than I wanted to be. With my late arrival, I wasn't able to get more than a 1/4 mile warmup in and I am nursing a sore achilles tendon. It forced me to drop out of the track workout on Tuesday night after a 1 1/2 miles of intervals and the only run I had done since then was a slow 5 miler on the treadmill on Friday. I knew that slow running wouldn't aggrevate it, but I wasn't sure what would happen while running on snowshoes and I was ready to even quit if it tightened up too much. I knew I should go out slow, but there I was in the front paceline, having to work my stride to keep up. What a blast though! Snow falling down and being kicked right back up! After the turnaround at 180 yards, the path opened up more and I slowed a bit, or was it that faster racers went by?
From this point on until the last 1/4 mile uphill of the race, I seemed to be in a pack of five or six races racers mostly racing in a paceline. This is where the time-stopping stuff would come in handy. Snowshoe racing is tough stuff and it really gets you racing at the edge. It would be nice to just stop things for a short while and catch your breath a bit and let the heart rate drop down. It would also be easier to make passes on the course. A couple of times I would pass a few racers, but it took a lot to make a pass as you had to move over to the unpacked snow to do so and that took bit more effort when there wasn't enough effort in the bank to give. How much easier would it be to stop things and then get ahead of those racers who are directly in front of you? Its not like in a road race where you can just move ahead of someone easily. I guess this was the difference between last years and this years race. There were a lot more people racing this year. There was no "alone time" for me at all during this years race, well expect for the last uphill run to the finish line where most of the pack I had been running with scooted ahead of me up the trail. Overall it was an extremely fun race. I only ran 16 seconds faster than last year, but I have only managed about 100 miles of running in the past two months, so I'll take it.
I was curious about how my form would be after all the physical therapy work and Postural Restoration exercises. I found my left stride was off again and I was often stumbling on that side of my body during the race. After about 1/2 mile into the race I remembered to tighten my left adductor and that helped smooth out my stride at times. I think the problem was that I was not able to do my exercises before the race after shoveling out my driveway. I noticed that I was only shoveling from the strong side of my body and that was probably reinforcing the bad patterns and not working on the hip shift and using my left side to do work. If you practice bad patterns you are going to use bad patterns. In the end I was happy that the achillis got no tighter during the race than it was at the start.
Scott Mason has a great group of photos from the race here at his website. Here is a video of the race.
I ended up in 21st place out of 87 racers (results). Last year I was 8th out of 47 so the competition and number of racers are moving up. The 50 year old age group is growing too. Last year I was the second 50+ racer in the age group 23 seconds behind Scotty Graham. This year I was fifth. Jerry Fitzgibbons, running his first snowshoe race pulled out the victory. Scotty Graham went flying by me in the first 1/2 mile of the race in pursuit of Jerry, and came close but didn't quite catch him. I don't know Eddie or Rich, but they must have been running in the pack I was in until the last bit. Funny thing was everyone in the pack looked young and fit, but you can't tell with all the hats and stuff we wear. Its good to get some more strong competitors in this group.
I think I have been racing Jerry longer than anyone else I know still out there running. I first met him in a parking lot of a restaurant the night before a triathlon back in 1984 or 1985. We had dinner together and I saw him at a few more triathlons. The last time I did the Cape Cod Endurance Triathlon in 1987, I remember that Jerry was a spectator and after the race he told me that he would never do an Ironman distance triathlon. After I moved up to New Hampshire in 1988, I joined the Nashua Velo Club. We had a weekly training ride (loops through the hills of Hollis, Pepperell, and Brookline). Sure enough every once and awhile Jerry would show up. The cyclists in the club did not like seeing us triathletes show up. Those were some tough paceline workouts as they constantly tried to drop us off the back! Then Jerry would run for the Gate City Striders off and on through the years. I think he eventually competed in 10+ Ironman races around the world. Now he runs the track workouts with the Striders, first in the summer and now in the winter. It is a rare day when I can beat him in a race and he showed his strength during this race,
Here are the finishers on the 50-60 age group
11 18:50 Jeremiah Fitzgibbon 53 M Bedford NH
14 19:00 Scott Graham 51 M Westford MA
17 19:53 Eddie Habeck III 52 M Williamstown VT
18 19:57 Rich Miller 58 M Barnstead NH
21 20:15 Jim Hansen 50 M Nashua NH
27 21:32 Gregory Cullen 57 M Westford MA
28 21:46 Don McCarty 49 M Nashua NH (not quite 50 yet! but this was his first snowshoe race and he is always a strong competitor!)
29 21:56 72 Ed Mulvey 50 M 50 Boxford MA
36 22:52 Kevin Curry 51 M Lynn MA
38 23:10 Dan Scotina 54 MSaugus MA
41 23:29 Joe Merriam 50 M Franklin NH
44 23:51 John Kleschinsky 51 M Andover MA
45 24:27 Billy Shea 58 M Danvers MA
47 24:53 Bill Morse 57 M Dracut MA
55 26:24 Diane Levesque 56 F Rochester NH (first female in the age group)
78 33:49 Kevin Curtis 50 M Sudbury MA
83 39:25 Gloria Cullen 55 F Westford MA (I finshed one place behind her daughter Amber)
The top ten overall
1 15:48 Jim Johnson 32 M Salem NH
2 16:24 Tim Cox 36 M Northwood NH
3 16:43 Robert Jackman 27 M Warwick RI
4 17:10 Dave Dunham 45 M Ward Hill MA
5 17:22 Steve Wolfe 45 M Merrimack NH
6 17:34 Matt Westerlund 37 M Laconia NY
7 17:40 Chris Dunn 41 MStrafford NH
8 18:12 Danny Ferreira 27 M Concord NH
9 18:21 Sean Snow 43 M Dunbarton NH
10 18:43 Christopher Smith 43 M Woburn MA
20 20:06 Amber Cullen Ferreira 27 F Concord NH
24 20:41 Ann Rasmussen 45 F Plymouth NH
32 22:23 Jessey Campbell 19 F Northwood NH
40 23:22 Gail Gordon 38 F Lynn MA