Great photo of the start by Joe Viger
Well, it's the end of an era. Double J put an end to my reign of terror in the tiny town of Sandwich, NH, also known as the Center of the Snowshoeing Universe. It was a hard fought battle from the beginning to end.
I knew the conditions would be fast as we haven't had any fresh snow in this part of the state in a few weeks. Luckily there was a decent base that allowed Paul Kirsch to set a modified course. I was worried that most of it would be on the flat and fast fairgrounds, but I was quite surprised to see how much of it was in the woods on the other side of the road.
I was pretty nervous the last couple of days as I haven't run a race since Cape Cod in October, and the first snowshoe race of the year always hurts like hell. Usually by the time Sidehiller rolls around, I've run at least one other race to get ready for what is usually a pretty competitive race. With a relative lack of snow and a busy work schedule, that didn't happen. Work has also been cutting into my training, as I have been pretty busy this winter taking on some new responsibilities. Hopefully I'll adjust and get back to some good training again.
The gun went off and as usual Jim shot out to the front 1/2 a mile in. I was working pretty hard just to keep him in sight. This is usual though, so I just kept plugging along hoping that I would make up some time on the hills and singletrack. He had a 5-10 second lead as we crossed Bean Rd. where the volunteers had put down plywood and shoveled snow to cover the road. Thank you Sidehillers!
I immediately started to close the gap on the steep up and managed to catch Jim on the field section, which was surprising as I was not expecting to actually run through the upper fields. My lungs were burning pretty good at this point, but I kept the hammer down as Jim let me by and I opened a little gap while running through the windblown snow.
I was hoping for more of these conditions, but we ran out of hills and the rest of the course was pretty firm. I did my best to open a gap in the last field and on the downhill singletrack, but Jim hung tough. I knew that if he was close after the road crossing that I would be in trouble. Unfortunately, I was in trouble before we hit the downhill. I was pretty much out of gas. I lengthened my stride on the downs, and opened a tiny gap after the road crossing, but with a quarter mile to go Jim went around me. I responded, but it was too late and he cruised into the finish for a 4 second win.
I spent a good amount of time with my hands on my knees at the finish. My lungs were on fire and my quads and core were shot. I ran hard but Jim ran harder. This was the first race in a LONG time where I just didn't feel strong. I haven't been doing the mileage, long tempos or long fartleks that make up the base of my training. This was a good reminder of what I need to get back too.
I am running in the GV Snowshoes Challenge next weekend in Quebec City. It is a 10k consisting of 5 laps of a 2k loop. Not my type of course, but it should be a neat experience running a race in the middle of Winter Carnival in the heart of the old part of the city. The course will be fast, but at least now I have a race under my belt.
GPS data: http://app.strava.com/activities/38735850
Finishing up by Gianina Lindsey