Carl Johnson skiathon - good time trial that I wrote about in the previous post
Granite State Snowshoe Championship
As with the Blizzard, I entered the race with zero expectations, especially since I had skied a 3 hour time trial the day before (and on the same trail, at least for the first 5K). I started at a pretty moderate pace, which seemed to work at the Blizzard. Of course the Blizzard started with a steep climb while the first 5K of the GSSC was rolling hillets. Ian, Chuck, Jeremy and I were running together; Chris Dunn and Triffit were quickly out of site but we stayed within viewing distance of Steve Wolfe, so I'd say maybe 150-200 m behind him through about 3K. At this point, I picked up the pace a bit and I thought Chuck would go with me but he didn't; I didn't turn around so maybe he was right behind me. I passed a few runners that I didn't know and was slowly reeling in Wolfe. I basically caught him in the tunnel, which was the 1/2way point and marked the transition from the low rollers to the big climb. I thought about passing him before we got to the singletrack because passing on the single track would be tricky but I was reluctant because I was a little worried about bonking early. So I ran in Wolfe's wake for the first half of the climb; my singletrack technique could use some work and I fell at the start of the climb (yes on an uphill). About 1/2 way up the climb I asked to pass Wolfe and he kindly let me go. The climb felt great and I was feeling strong at the top. I did a quick turnaround and didn't see Wolfe or the other runner that I had passed just before the tunnel. I was now alone.
The long descent was a bit crazy because the probability of postholing was about 1-5%, which meant I'd be guaranteed of a few by the bottom. The postholes from the front runners were also intimidating. All I really thought about was falling and losing time so I'm glad I wasn't thinking about wrenching a knee like Ryan. About 1/2 way down I could see another runner quite far ahead but wasn't sure who it was. I found the descent long and boring and was ready to be done with it. I also figured I was running as fast as anyone could down this but I was wrong. At the bottom, as I turned into the woods, I turned around to see Wolfe had gained quite a bit on me. I didn't really assess how close he was but just seeing him meant close enough. I had actually recovered quite a bit on the descent and felt sharp on the rolling single track in the woods. I was gaining pretty quickly on the runner ahead of me and I figured it was Dunn. When I caught him, I mentioned that Wolfe was right on my tail hopig that Chris would pick up the pace. I ran in his wake for a short section but he kindly let me by and I maintained my previous pace, as I was still feeling quite good. I didn't turn around but I got the feeling that Wolfe was futher back than I thought. The woods trail dumped out onto a little trail next to Route 16 and I thought this was the end so I picked up the pace for a strong finish. Wooops. Unfortunately the race director (who coincidently was Chris Dunn) had other plans and sent us up some hellish powerline hill. I was mentally and now physically unprepared for this but having Dunn and Wolfe behind me was incentive to keep moving as fast as I could. After feeling great all race, now I was feeling aweful. I went through what seemed like an interminable series of ascents and descents and all I wanted to do was stop and walk, which I did for about 2s but again I had two big reasons to keep moving. I finally made it to the top of the final descent to the lodge and finish. I ended up 2nd master, 9th overall and not too far behind Ryan. I was dead, but happy with the results. Chuck, Jeremy, and Ian all came in soon after - we all had strong races. Acidotic racing threw a great awards party after and a late lunch at Moat with Jeremy, Ian, Emma, and Ryan helped to replenish lost calories.
I think I'll do more snowshoe running and racing next winter. It's a surprisingly low impact sport, and so compliments skiing nicely. I also like redlining my body - it's good preparation for shorter running races.
There are many really stunning photos of this race from Scott Mason, Joe Viger, Gianna Lindsey, and Great Glen Trails. I was the butt of a series of aural jokes about this one, which actually highlights my stunning balance NOT falling (you have to see the whole series). My favorite photo, of course, is this one here. As far as my, ah...heavy breathing, this started last year at Mother's Day 5K. I only do this when I'm redlining for many minutes, so typically a 5K but also some longer races as well (PT8K and this race). Maybe it's some kind of intense-exercise induced asthma. Does this give me an excuse to take albuterol before future races? I did like the response from one runner at GSSC that thought when I passed him at the 5K mark "yeh, I heard the breathing and thought, he's done, but then he just kept drifting further and further ahead" (I didn't even have my asmathic breathing at this point).
Hatchet Mountain Hill Climb - 1st hill climb of the season.
This is about 2 miles down the road from Cacky's parents house and it just opened up last summer but I hadn't run it before. I think some guy was going to build a house on the mountain and he built a wacky wicked steep driveway but then the permitting fell through and he abandoned it and there was a big drive to buy the property and create a community trail. So the 1st 3/4 of the trail is an abandoned split rock driveway and the last 1/4 is a narrow trail to the peak. The driveway part is wicked steep - I'm guessing 10-15% slope with 20% in sections. I was surprised that the peak is at 1100 feet so the total climb, from the Hope General Store (the hippest general store in Maine), was about 775 feet. I took the steep sections pretty hard but the overall run was short and sweet because I did have the Sugarloaf Ski Marathon the next morning!
Sugarloaf Ski Marathon
I'll keep this report short. This was my best 50K to date (although the actual distance was more like 44K). The course was 4 laps each of about 11K. It was a slightly different from last year and used part of the newly cut race course in the lower section. The temperature was perfect. The snow was mostly perfect. The major climb was packed well and actually very fast through all four laps. The wall on the lower part of the course sucked - it was chopped up transformed snow and the slope and chop made it hard to get a rhythm but I think I was climbing it better than those around me. The long descent in the top half was perfect and didn't slow at all in later laps. The sharp turns in the middle part of the course (from 4K-8K) were fast and rutted. On lap one I was skiing with fellow master blasters and took these all insanely fast for me and couldn't believe that I didn't go down on any of them. Or hit a tree. I was a little more cautious on my other three laps but still hit them pretty hard...with no falls (yes, my downhill turning training is paying off!). The new race course section had nice flow.
I managed almost perfectly even splits, which was a major goal of mine. My third lap was the slowest - I wanted to start picking up the speed but was reluctant because I didn't want to bonk and I instead skied it too slowly. I skied the lower section (the last 5K) of the last lap much faster and caught and passed three skiers and was catching up to another pack up three when the finish line got in the way. Given my final lap time I'm guessing I took the upper section climb in the first half a little too easy. Gotta figure out this pacing thing. I was a little tired from skiing hard the final 5K but think I could have skied harder on the other 40K. The problem is that finishing a race after bonking is really, really painful so maybe I'm too risk averse.
Splits: 1) 36:57.8, 2) 37:54.8, 3) 38:34.5, 4) 36:45.5
Place 23/37 Men; 4/6 AG
The Colby skiers do a great job organizing this race and manning the feed stations and the course is fun so its a shame that more skiers don't have this marathon on the calendar. Lots of the fastest NE skiers were at Craftsbury this weekend but what about everyone else?