about the photo

Downtown Temple,NH

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Twice as much fun as last week!

It didn't take a lot of effort to have more fun this weekend than I had last weekend at the Exeter Slowshoe umm 'Race'. I still can't get over how ridiculously hard (and slow) that was. This weekend I was right back at it and if things went well, I'd be right back at it.....twice!. I had a little more confidence this week due to a much better week of training. I was generally feeling less sick (more better?). Unfortunately I've felt this way before and then blew up in the race so I wasn't getting too excited....yet.

First up was the Horse Hill race (results) in Merrimack, NH. Not only was this my hometown course, RD Michael Amarello allowed me to design a new course this year, taking advantage of a few new trails. The roughly 4.5 mile course would be about 75% single track with a few wider sections sprinkled in for passing and such. Over the past month I've run the course about 7 times so I was a wee bit familiar with it. After marking it in the morning with Michael, I also knew it would be very fast. I lined up as conservative as I could (I have limits you know) and immediately tucked in behind Amber Ferierra and Chris Dunn, with Michael Wade on my tail. I was in no hurry early on and almost fell off the pace near the summit of Blodgett Hill. I made up any loss on the downhill single track and got back in line behind Chris and Amber for the next 1 1/2 miles or so. We had a good pace going and we seemed to be pulling in a couple of runners up front so I was content with my place...at the moment. As we headed down towards the powerline I actually felt like Amber had slowed just a bit so instead of running up Chris' back, I made an unconventional pass on the right, mostly because Amber was running on the left. If I recall, Chris followed suit and also squeaked by Amber.

Feeling good! (photo credit - Gianina Lindsey)
Course knowledge helped at this point, I think. I knew we had some fairly easy (fast ) single track coming up, followed by a fast descent down the powerlines before finally heading up a tough climb on Horse Hill. So I picked it up a bit on the single track, hammered the powerline trail and made another pass, before tucking in behind Sean Snow (who clearly was not at 100%). Sean was nice enough to pull me up Horse Hill and I followed him on the short and fast descent down the backside. We'd spend the next 3/4 of a mile climbing back up Blodgett Hill on a very tight single track. My plan was to get onto this trail in front of anyone around me since passing would be virtually impossible. So, on the short section of snowmobile trail before the single track I made my last pass of the day and got in front of Sean. Of course now I had a couple of tough climbers right on my heels (Sean and Chris). If they caught up I would have stepped aside if asked but I wasn't going to volunteer my spot. I felt confident if I made it to the top of Blodgett Hill without getting passed, I could hold them off on the downhill to the finish. Thankfully that's the way it played out. I finished up in 8th place overall in a time of 36:01, just 14 seconds ahead of Chris. For the first time in a LONG time I felt pretty good about my race. I actually think the guys at the finish were more excited about my finish then I was. I guess I can be a grumpy, miserable, pain in the butt when I'm not racing well (or sick). Who knew?

Since Saturday went swimmingly well, I decided to double up the weekend and head over to Northwood, NH on Sunday for the inaugural running of the Bear Paw Classic (results), put on by Chris' daughter Madison. The roughly 3.7 mile course would have just about everything: tough sugary, loose snow, lightening fast single track, nicely packed snowmobile trails and even a descent hill to boot. It seemed just about everyone here had raced the previous day so there was no sense complaining about tired legs (although I may have mentioned them). Chris refused to line up in front of me so I took a spot behind teammate Ryan Welts instead. Both the start and finish were on a loop around the baseball field on the toughest snow on the course. Not exactly the way I would prefer to start or finish a race but oh well. After a few minutes of racing it was clear Chris and and I would be racing alone. The fast guys were gone up front and we didn't think there was anyone challenging us from behind. For the first half of the race I lead and Chris followed. We asked each other a few times why we were running so hard since it was clear we weren't going to catch anyone in front and we were fairly certain we would not be run down from behind. It was mostly talk though. Let up in a race? Are you serious? Ha!
This is how most of the race looked, except the finish
As we hit the powerline trail (the only serious climb of the day), Chris pulled up on my side and we ran shoulder to shoulder for a while before Chris took the lead on some of the steeper climbs. I was definitely struggling on the climbs and tried to stay close. As we headed back onto the single track at the roughly 1 mile to go point, Chris started talking about finishing together. I led the 1st half, he led the 2nd half, it's only fair. I had visions of Kevin Tilton and Jim Johnson finishing up in a 'tie' at the GSSS race last year (holding hands I think). Anyways, it wasn't a pleasant vision. Chis is a great teammate, but there ain't a chance in heck that I was going to stroll in side by side without putting up a fight. He can be first, or I can but this dog don't tie! Lucky for Chris I had no fight left. I was barely hanging on during the last 1/4 mile of very loose, sugary snow. The harder I tried, the slower I went. I just could not close the 3-5m gap Chris had on me and eventually finished up 6th overall in 31:31, just 3 seconds behind Chris. For the second time this weekend I finished up and felt pretty good (although tired). On the road to recovery! Good thing since the season is almost over.

No comments: