Ryan W. and I ran a short warm-up on the first few tenths of a mile on the course, getting a feel for the conditions. Yep, slow. The trails were also single track the whole way. Actually, single-channeled is probably more like it. Cooperation would have to be relied on for passing since there was only one very narrow, deep trench to run in. Passing would mean someone would have to move over or if you were bold, make a move through deep, powdery snow on the side (not smart in most cases). Said trench was very challenging, as many times I would catch my snowshoes on the sidewalls and stumble, but thankfully never fell. I am a huge klutz in general, and that showed today, as based on my observations I had trouble staying in the narrow trench more than most others.
|Courtesy: Maine Running Photos|
Ryan W. and Scott H. were off like a cannon shot, pulling ahead really quickly. That was smart, as there was definitely jockeying for position in the first few hundred feet. I think my snowshoes were stepped on three or four times in the first few seconds. However, once the
David R. was just ahead of us and leading the pack. Behind me a large contingent consisting of the first two women (who were insanely fast) as well as Chuck H. and James D. Our congo line trudged onward but right around the mile one split, Ian asked to move ahead of David R. and from there on out slowly and methodically pulled ahead of our pack.
Mile Two - Questionable Strategy
I thought about also passing David and going with Ian, but didn't think that was wise. I already felt like I was redlining and thought it might be too soon to make a move. Hindsight is always 20/20, but looking back, I really wish I would have went with Ian and let him pull me ahead just enough to stay a few dozen feet ahead before letting go and trying to hang on so I would have some breathing room.
Our congo line persisted up a very large and gradual climb. I was just behind David R. with four others behind me, and our pack was all neck and neck. Yet, nobody was making any moves. I know I wasn't simply because I was redlining now and I suspect it was the same for everyone else. Still, I was getting really tired of being towards the front and was feeling really gassed from a long, grinding uphill.
I decided to make a very risky move here. I pulled over and let the entire pack go by so I could be in the back. Though everyone in this group is really awesome and some are good friends, I was getting really sick of being caught up in such a long, tight-knit congo line with no breathing room. The plan was to catch my breath a little, regroup and then try to chase down everyone. Risky, especially in conditions like this when conditions made passing extremely complicated but there was still a mile to go. I would have limited success with the plan but it mostly backfired.
Mile Three - Trying to Regain Ground
Now that I was in the back of the line, I was feeling better mentally. I also let myself drop back a little, but not too much, and catch my breath. It was working and I was soon feeling my mojo coming back, and besides I prefer to chase people down as opposed to holding people off.
I was soon back up on Chuck's heals and we chatted a little bit. We then had a flying downhill section on Old Tuttle Road, which is a long, straight path and we all cranked the downhill. The congo line started to break up here, with Dave R. and the two top females pulling ahead. I was getting my legs and energy back, and as we approached the left hand turn on the Lanzo Trail, I proposed to Chuck and James that we work together and get back up with them (they were maybe 20-30 feet or so ahead here and pulling away). They said they couldn't go much faster, so I asked to pass and they let me by and I began closing the gap.
Soon afterwards, I caught up and joined the other pack. Four of us now, with David R., the two lead females and me as the caboose. There was now only about a half of a mile left, so asking for the others to pull over and let me by didn't seem ethical at all, especially when I'm in the same pack with them. This late in the race, I thought that if you were going to pass somebody, you should earn it by going off to the unbroken side, but they were going fast enough that if I were to do that, it would no doubt gas me big time and likely backfire, especially with there being three of them. One runner, maybe. But three? No way. And we were all tailgating so passing all three at once would have been the only real option.
Final Stretch - The End
We soon made the right hand turn on the link trail and there was only about a tenth of a mile or so to the finish. All four of us kicked, and I didn't really have enough to make a move off to the side in the unbroken snow. In retrospect, I wish I would have given it a shot since I didn't really have much to lose. Chuck and James were not far behind, but probably far enough that I could have taken the chance. Grrr. Big hat's off to David and the two lead females though, as all of our kicks were strong. We soon crossed the finish line with all of us in order and only about a second between each of us.
Not entirely satisfied with my efforts today, but it was good enough for seventh place overall and I won my age group, which was nice. Can never be upset with winning your AG. I could pick from my prizes, and Kate asked if I could get the gift certificate to Core 3 Massage for her, and I was happy to do so. Kate's been having some major leg tightness issues, and I'm sure her trip to see our friend Julia will help her out a lot. Julia does awesome work.
Very fun day, big thanks to Ryan, Ian and all of the volunteers for another awesome, fun race!
Ran 3.3 miles @ 12:21/mile pace.
Official time: 40:43
Placing: 7th out of 53
AG (40-49): 1st out 8
Trails, narrow and covered in powdery, deep snow.
Mid 20s, sunny.
Dion 121 Snowshoes, New Balance MT110, long tights, sleeveless shirt, long sleeved shirt, buff, gloves.
w/u: Snowshoed .4 miles @ 13:13/mile pace.
c/d: Ran 1.1 miles @ 9:08/mile pace.