Sunday, February 27, 2011

Bradbury Blizzard Snowshoe Race Report

In a word: Ouch. And on many fronts. I hadn't planned on doing this race, but the Mid-Winter 10-Mile Classic, rescheduled for today after being postponed three weeks ago because of snow, was canceled for good because of another round of snow. Frustrating, but the reasons are valid and I'm sure it was exponentially more frustrating for the race directors.

So, after the MWC was canceled, I told Ryan I'd volunteer for the 5-mile Bradbury Blizzard, but he suggested, somewhat strongly, that I race it instead. I simply really wanted to compete, so after only a few moments of thought I agreed. Thankfully, Dion Snowshoes had kindly loaned several pairs for racing snowshoes for the race series, and Ryan was able to secure me a pair. Great snowshoes, was really happy with how they performed today.

Pre-Race Run
I got to Bradbury Mountain early to get in five miles on the roads before the race. This served two purposes: warm-up the legs and also put more miles in the bank to help get me over 60 miles for the week for the fourth consecutive week. With the snowshoe race I'd have it.

Run went well. Kept the pace very easy to save the legs as much as I could for the race. Just ran up Route 9 for an out and back. 1" to 2" of fresh snow coated the road shoulders, so it was slow going which was fine. Got back and kept warm in my car until it was race time.

Ran 5.1 miles @ 9:14/mile.
Snow coated roads, 1"-2" of powder.
Very hilly.
Lower teens, overcast, light to moderate snow, breezy.
Adidas Adizero XT (screwed), long tights, windbreaker, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, beanie, mittens.

The Race
Courtesy: Maine Running Photos
I wasn't sure what to expect since this was my first snowshoe race. Like I mentioned before, I hadn't planned on racing, and a few days ago I knew it was quite likely that the Mid-Winter Classic would get canceled so I didn't taper my mileage much the past few days. Still, I wasn't feeling particularly worn down, so I thought I'd do pretty well. But how to define "well"? I really hadn't a clue.

The race started and we were off. After a short flat stretch we were soon climbing a gnarly set of switchbacks to the top of the mountain. Ouch. It became apparent to me about halfway through the climb that I had gone out WAY too fast. I was racing it like a trail race, matching my placing in the pecking order accordingly with other folks based on their running paces. Bad idea. Snowshoe racing is quite different and I'd muse there is definitely a considerable degree of conditioning to the sport. Many of these guys had more experience than I did. Lesson learned.

Courtesy: Maine Running Photos
To make matters more complicated, the snow was very loose and slow. In other words, a LOT more work. Quite a few people passed me as we got towards the top.

Finally reached the summit and we were on the way down. Jeff and James blew passed me here, and Floyd and Dave also did as well. However, the paces were starting to settle in a bit. Jeff and James continued to get farther away, as did Floyd, but I seemed to be keeping pace with Dave who would remain just in front of me for the rest of the race.

The downhill after the first time summiting was nice. I learned I can really fly downhill on snowshoes. Throughout the race, Dave would put a little distance on me on the long uphills, but I would close the gap on the downhills. Julia was also right behind me, and it was similar. I could hear her gaining ground on me on the uphills, but I was able to utilize my longer stride on the downhills to gain some distance.

So, we went down, then up to the summit again, then down, then we began the second loop and would do it all over again. Positioning would stay the same throughout.. nobody else passed me and I passed nobody else. It was very hard work throughout though.

I crossed the finish, still in disbelief at how tough it all was. I confirmed this by vomiting (more of a glorified vurp) about a minute later. I came in 13th place out of 37 runners, finishing the five mile course in 1:00:47. Truth be told, I'm a bit disappointed with that. Just wasn't my day. I think I can do better, but talk is cheap. Still, next year I'd like to do this more often, so hopefully some actual snowshoe training and more experience will pay off. I learned running does not directly translate to snowshoe racing by as much as I thought. Sure, it obviously helps, but it's still not the same. But the minor disappointment of my placing/time was trumped by the fun I had at experiencing something new, and getting in a great workout to boot.

Big thanks to Ryan, Ian and all the volunteers for a fun day! As an added bonus, Kate and I won a bag of Matt's coffee and a gift certificate to Frontier in the post-race raffle.

Snowshoed 5.1 miles @ 11:56/mile pace (per the Garmin)
Official time: 1:00:47.
Placing: 13th out of 37
Trails with loose snow.
Insanely hilly.
Upper teens, mostly cloudy.
Dion Snowshoes (Model 121), long tights, short sleeved shirt, long sleeved shirt, sleeveless shirt, beanie, gloves.

1 comment:

Grellan said...

Looks like fun Jamie, if you can get over the pain.