Beaver Brook 5k Snowshoe Race 2011
Although I’ve been doing most of my miles this winter on my snowshoes, I haven’t been snowshoe racing as much as usual. The plan this weekend was to head to Windblown XC ski center in southern NH for a mini-vacation, and the Beaver Brook race was on the way, so we headed over to Hollis on Saturday morning. The NH races tend to start pretty late, usually around 11:30, which usually results in the race eating up most of your day. Since Hollis was a short drive and we had to pack up all our stuff for the weekend, I didn’t mind the late start.
With a couple of warm days prior to the race, I had put in a deep cleat in my Dions for extra traction, but of course the trail was completely solid at Beaver Brook, and I had to switch back to the stainless ice cleat. From taking a tour of most of the course on the warmup it was obvious that it was going to be a fast race. I usually do better on slower courses, but one objective for doing this race was to get a few miles at faster tempo to make 50k pace feel easier, and it’s fun running fast on snowshoes through tight singletrack.
The start was quick as everyone wanted to get to the very narrow singletrack, and I settled into third behind Jim Johnson and Ryan Kelly. Jim started to pull away from Ryan, and since I had beaten Ryan at an earlier snowshoe race and was feeling pretty good, I decided to ask to get around him. The trail was very narrow, and you would break through several inches if you tried to go off track. Ryan soon let me by, and I seemed to be maintaining the gap with JJ for a few minutes. I was definitely working hard, as I could feel excess lactic acid in my arms, but I was hoping to recover on the downhill and flat terrain in the middle mile.
I never got more than about 5 seconds ahead of Ryan, and once the course started to go downhill, he was right in back of me. JJ was pulling away as I let Ryan move back into second, and my legs were telling me I had gone out too fast. The one large hill on the course was right in the middle of the race, and I lost contact with Ryan by the time I got to the top.
Despite not being where I wanted to be in the race, I was still running hard and enjoying the trails. This was my first time on the trails at Beaver Brook in any season, and it was clear that whoever planned the trails knew what they were doing. Steve Wolfe, who would end up in 8th place, actually mapped out the course, and did a great job of making a fast 5k course feel much longer. I’m sure my ambitious start helped with that as well, though. I haven’t been doing much short speed work, so I wasn’t totally surprised at not being able to handle the pace, but sometimes I can get away with a fast race off of mostly ultra training.
There were some tricky sections with icy banked trails in the last mile, and I tried to push these sections to make up some time on Ryan. By the time I finally spotted him again, he was running towards the finish about a minute behind JJ. I came in about 30 seconds later (21:51), and could taste blood for about 5 minutes after the race. At the very least, I got in a good effort. Steph and Gavin were just coming back from a trek out to a wigwam they found in the woods, and Gavin insisted that I go take a look. He was right, it was pretty cool, with huge 4x4’ pieces of flat bark covering the entire exterior. We hiked around a bit more, grabbed some corn bread during the awards, and headed over to Windblown to do the only thing harder than snowshoe racing; pushing 40 lbs of Gavin in his ski stroller. In addition to be being incredibly hard on the legs, it also takes some upper body effort to balance the stroller
My big mistake of this winter was waxing Steph’s skate skis, as I now have no hope of keeping up with her. I end up killing myself just trying to keep her in sight, as Gavin sleeps like a newborn. He actually got on XC skis for the first time this weekend, and he was more than happy to jump in the stroller after about a half hour or hard work on his dinosaur rental skis.
We ended up having dinner and spending Saturday night at the Woodbound Inn in Rindge, NH. Our meals were excellent, especially the homemade gnocchi. The huge bathtub was fully appreciated after the long day. We headed back to Windblown for some more skiing and snowshoeing on Sunday before heading home, and we were all exhausted by lunchtime. It was pretty cold on both days, but my 318’s keep my feet dry and warm, even while helping out Gavin with his XC skis. The 230’s worked great as usual at the race, but for regular snowshoe runs I always wear my 318’s.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Beaver Brook 5k Snowshoe Race 2011