Monday, February 28, 2011

Bradbury Blizzard

Courtesy of Dave Young:

A memory of me: heading for the finish ...notice the white snow dust behind me, it was a sprint

actually finishing the race ....and glad to be done.

A less accommodating one of me struggling on an uphill
Note: no snow dust....not moving too fast here

The Bradbury excellent combination of breathtaking (I mean actually taking your breath away) up hills and crazy single track twisting downhills that take almost as much energy to maintain an upright position.

After snow shoeing the Bradbury White out a couple weeks ago I realized that snow shoe racing on this type of terrain was not something I was very good at, well actually I should classify it snowshoe walk/running.

The down hills at the Whiteout proved that my core muscles were not anywhere near up to par so I decided to work on them a little harder for the Blizzard. I think the extra work helped but with the softer and deeper unpacked snow, I really couldn't compare the two.

This being only my second snowshoe race and the fact that I really struggled during the first race, it was easy to decide to start in the rear again.....only this time I started dead last. I can tell you that all those other snowshoers throwing powdery snow in the air in front of me actually made me glad I hung back a bit.

The first half mile of the race was a crazy twisty uphill and I was so winded at the top, I couldn't imagine running five miles. I thought of quiting which is a common feeling for me in the start of any race, of course I didn't plus I figured I would wait until after the down and see how well I recouped.

Unfortunately, the downhill which usually allows for a little rest because of the pull of gravity, did not offer any rest in these conditions. The constant need to keep the body upright as the twisting trails, skinny single track and soft snow tried their hardest to throw me down and suck all the energy from my body, had me wishing for an uphill.

Once the uphill arrived, I was wishing I would pass out so I could get a ride down on a stretcher. My spirits were uplifted a bit as I passed a couple people in the first mile, then a couple more during the rest of the first loop.

I was actually ahead of a couple runners that beat me in the last race, so I was beginning to feel better and I was settling in to a steady pace. At the halfway point I was actually considering trying to speed up a bit to maintain my position of not being last.

The trek up the switchback trail for the second time convinced me that perhaps I should just be happy to finish, never mind beat anyone. As I crossed the peak and started the downhill, it suddenly dawned on me that even though I was beat, I was having fun, yeah it was tough but at the same time, how many people show up for an event like this..........only the toughest.

During the second loop, I passed three more "faster" runners only to have them eventually pass me back. As I realized the last mile coming near, I tried to stay right on a runners tail in hopes of out kicking in the end to steal a spot. Problem is, she was much faster than me on the uphills. I figured the last down hill on the Terrace trail would be my only hope, so I threw caution to the wind and went by.

All I had to do now is maintain the distance and actually earn my spot. Somehow I stayed in front and found a little bit extra for a finishing kick. It helped that I could hear the trail Monsters yelling as I rounded the last corner. Taken out of context, one would think I was the first finisher rather than almost the last.

Again Ryan and all the volunteers created an amazing experience. Much more memorable than all those road races where a I am in the mix of hundreds of people crossing the finish line where no one knows your name. I guess being part of the Trail Monsters is a modern version of Cheers but instead of meeting at the bar, we meet in the trails.

I found out later when I down loaded the Garmen that I did in fact run a faster second loop. What is funny, is that now, a day later I can envision all those times I slowed down and I feel that I not only could I have but I should have run faster at those points. It is so much easier to "say" I could have than to actually find the strength to do it on race day.

It was a bit disappointing not to earn the "Baddass" status and get one of those rare Badass hats. Congrats to all the did.

Monday, February 14, 2011

White-Out Report

Photo of me and Ann before the race(taken by George).....we are both smiling...mine was short lived once the race started.

Snow Shoeing "The Brad" ........ OK, this race started much better then the last.....because I actually showed up for it. I honestly didn't know what to expect from myself because it was my first snowshoe race. I decided to start near the rear and as it turned out, it was the best place for me.

I have to admit, my choice of snow shoes worked very well for me. I didn't slide around at all (like I noticed many others do with aluminum frames.) My draw back was a little bit more weight then the racing Dions.

The Tubbs flex adapted well to the uneven part of the terrain, had great grip on the uphill icy sections and the loose downhill areas. I was a little worried at first because during my warm up run, the left shoe loosened up and fell off. This never happened any of the times I went out running but during the warm up I practiced lifting my feet up higher and pushing off more with my toe.

Despite the worrying, I had no problems during the race with the shoes. There was one area where it was new type single track trail for about 1/2 mile that was a little narrow for my shoes. I suspect the trail was broken with the racing Dions and they must be just a smigit narrower than the Tubbs.

I started slow and settled in the middle of a pack of runners, most of whom were faster than me and within 3/4 mile all but three of them left me behind. The four of us spread out in a short period of running and I found myself following ......well more like trying to keep up with a woman runner.

I found out later it was the person I know of called "neighbor Kate" I think she wanted me to pass her, but I knew if I did, it would only be a matter of time before she was breathing down my neck, because I would surely slow down if I wasn't "chasing" someone.

I actually think this arrangement worked well as she claimed I was "pushing" her. Whatever it was, it worked very well for both of us. My intent was to stay as close as possible and out kick her at the finish.

The thing about racing close to someone else is the hard parts don't bother as much when you can see the others are working hard too. It is makes one realize the terrain is the problem not the conditioning.

When I run alone, I tend to take it easy after working hard on a hill and with Kate in front of me who by the way was "killer" on the down hills, I struggled to keep up until we hit the uphills, then I would be back on her tail.

This whole yo yo thing was beginning to worry me as the finish is mostly downhill so I would have to really push to stay close enough to pass her for the finish. I had an opportunity at the top of the South trail, right before the long down hill to pass Kate as she tripped or slipped or something and landed hands first in the snow.

For a split second I thought of slipping by and going for it. You know, I could have done that but I didn't, I stopped asked to see if she was OK and waited for her to get back up. I guess I wanted to earn the spot at the end.

I found out quite quickly that I underestimated her. Like a horse headed for the hay in the barn, she was suddenly flying with me barely on her tail trying to keep up. This is when I saw a glimpse of the pack that left us behind in the beginning. We managed to pass one person and were quickly catching others.

At the bottom she passed a slower runner but I was not so lucky as I could not find a spot to pass. I could see Kate putting more distance between us and finally I just jumped to the right and hoped the deep snow didn't take all of the energy I had left.

I could see the finish and turned on the best kick I could. I caught Kate, but ran out of trail and we finished side by side. I think she knew I was coming because it looked like she put everything she had into the last dozen steps. We collided across the finish almost took out the finish tape. I actually didn't realize how fast we were running the last quarter mile until I pulled the stats off the Garmen.

She said I brought out the best in her, but really she brought out the best in me. I was lucky to have someone to chase(thanks Kate), it made the experience much more enjoyable. I really have no complaints about the race. Ryan did a top notch job and it was great to see all the Trail Monsters having fun.

I ended up taking third in my age group. Of course there were only four in my group but hey, you can only count the ones that show up and race so I'll take the honor.

4.25 miles @1:02:54 (14:35 pace)
8:13.....153-164 (last 1/4 mile)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Now That's Cold

You know it's cold when the ocean freezes into a wave cliff!!

I know it is still winter and I know I shouldn't be thinking about spring yet.....but I found a site that has the New Balance Minimas available early (was due out to the public in March 2011) so I just couldn't help myself and ordered a pair. I will have them Friday.

I kept telling myself all through the fall that I should just buy a pair of INov-8s and I suppose I still will, but for some reason I like the looks and sound of the Minimus and I've had great experiences with NB.... maybe it's all the hype or even the video I watched a while back, but anyway I will own a pair.......OK Spring, I'm waiting

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I went Snow shoe running on the power lines behind my house Sunday. I found a real problem after crossing route 9. There was an orange fence across the trail and a sign that stated the power lines were shut down.

This seemed crazy but I remembered back last summer the president of the ATV club was kicked out and they had a big fight about it at the time. Apparently he lives next to this part of the power lines and he somehow convinced CMP that riding ATVs and Snowmobiles here was a safety issue.

CMP closed the trails from pole 65 to pole 84 .......the hazard was snowmobiles crossing a private road, visibility and such. That doesn't make sense, if it is a hazard at one road intersection, wouldn't it be a hazard at most or all?

I crossed the forbidden line and continued up the power lines but without the luxury of a packed snowmobile track for about 3/4 of a mile. Then I reached pole 84 and the trail opened back up and was perfectly packed and fast.

This was a perfect morning as there was a constant floating snow that gave the feeling of being in one of those snow globes that you shake up. Amazing how gently the large flakes were. It was as if they had no care in the world, just floating to their eventual destination.

It was perfect, the temps were not bad, the Tubbs snowshoes again working fantastic while running. They didn't hit my ankles or shins, they flexed on the uneven sections without causing me to lose my footing or put pressure on the ankles and they gripped so well on the down hills. I didn't slide at all like I do with aluminum frames.

I have to say I am pretty darn happy with the Tubbs shoes for running. Their only drawback would be when walking in deep virgin snow. I turned around at 2 miles and headed back. On the return when I got to pole 84 there was a sign that stated the residents would and are taking pictures of trespassers. It reminded me of that phrase..."can't we all just get along?"

After my snowshoe run, I got on one of the snowmobiles but not for the reason one might think. I used it to ride out to the storage shed and work on the sounds funny when I think about it, if you have to ride a snowmobile to work on the bike then it seems the timing is all wrong, but hey I do things when time permits and in the winter, there is no pressure to get things for the spring done fast.