Monday, January 19, 2015

Restart/Whitaker Woods Snowshoe Scramble

Someone has been bugging me to start up my blog again, so here it is. It won't be like my previous blog posts. Those are way TMI and journal-like. The new ones (except for this one) will be short and sweet (or sour), basically a copy and paste and of my Strava workouts, plus race recaps. Maybe a little extra thrown in here and there. I have a track record of starting blogs and quitting them, as is pretty much stated in my very first blog post from August 2010, so don't hold the bar high for me.
I WILL do a recap. I am Leslie O'Dell. I was Leslie Beckwith. Before that, I was Leslie O'Dell. I think you get the picture. I'm still living in the Mount Washington Valley in NH, Albany, NH, to be exact. I have an 8 year old son. I still work 2 jobs, although which ones have changed many times in the last 2 years. For now, I work full-time in billing at a Chiropractor's office (snore) and per diem as an EMT for a local ambulance company. I still like to run... a lot. A bit on the obsessive side, actually. And so much so, that I'm going to find myself cross-training quite a bit this week, since I've overdone it, but it is what it is.
I'm not going to recap the last few years of my running. It's just too much. You can go on Athlinks to see my results or hit me up on Strava to see my last year and a half of the day-to-day running. I will say that I had a pretty good Fall in 2014, as I was first woman in 9 out of 11 races from Sept-Dec. Two of those included 1st overall wins, the Mt Abram Ascent (a small mountain race in Maine) and the Battle for Black Rock 28 mile 36-miler (it was originally a 36-miler, but they were forced to shorten the course by the State Park in Georgia where it was held). I didn't even know I had won Battle for Black Rock until I finished. I thought there was still a person ahead of me, so that was a nice shock.
Me after the Battle for Black Rock win with race director and ultrarunner, Sean Blanton, aka "Run Bum"
Other 2014 Fall highlights were picking up women's course records at the Squam Ridge Race and Kismet Cliff Run and setting two women's records for the White Mountain Milers Half Marathon and the Castle in the Clouds Half Marathon. Not sure 2015 will be as good of a year for me, but I'll still be out there trying. There will be some changes to my norm. Quite a bit more road racing, which will lead to another change that I'll tell ya later. I'll actually run most of the Granite State Snowshoe Series, so that I can count in the final results for once (2012 doesn't count). I'm already signed up for the Vermont City Marathon and the Mt Washington Road Race, plus a few smaller races. I still plan to do most of the USATF-NE Mountain Series this year, as well. I just learned a few days ago that I was the women's open age group winner for 2013 and 2014 for the Mountain Series. I had no idea. I thought I had just finished 3rd and 2nd, respectively. Pretty cool. So anyway...
Whitaker Woods Snowshoe Scramble- First snowshoe race of the season. I'm always a bit nervous for these since I never know who's going to show up, and I don't typically train fast for short distance. Since I'm lucky to live up here in the mountains, we've had enough snow that I have been able to get out on snowshoes enough to feel somewhat ready. The crowd was a bit overwhelming as people started to pour in. It was great to see faces I've missed the last 2 months, but I had to get out of there for some sort of a warm-up since I've decided to start doing those now. I headed out for a short 1.2 miles, running into Jim who joined me while he was finishing up the last mile of his warm-up. 1.2 was good enough for me, and I only had about 10 minutes to the start, so I stripped down some layers and got ready. Once on the starting line, I joined Abbey Wood, a pretty awesome runner from here in NH and who also happens to be on the 2015 Women's Snowshoe National Team. She's one of the nicest people I've ever met and smiles more than I do while she's running (that's saying something). She was the only one I recognized as someone to contend with so I thought starting off with her would be a good idea. I went off too fast, but that's just what I do. It's become my "thing". Once we hit the woods, Abbey easily blew past me looking pretty strong up and over the first climb. I stayed about 10 yards back cursing my "too fast start" strategy. She seemed to pull away even more on the down, and I thought I was done for sure all the way along the next flat. But as soon as we hit the next LONG climb, I just busted it out and started hauling ass. I was able to get a lead on Abbey and passed at least 3 or 4 of the men along the way. I ended up playing leap frog with a few of those men the rest of the way. I've been doing A LOT of "hill" training, so I was ready for that climb. I was able to maintain my women's lead from there on out. The course was pretty hard-packed so it stayed fast most of the way until we hit some single track at the bottom of the power lines. A runner who was fast on the wide, groomed trail got ahead of us all with a considerably slower pace through the single track. I decided against passing him until we hit the power lines again, which I did, and he proceeded to clip my snowshoe. I won't lie; I was immediately pissed, but I decided to let the first one go, as it was probably a mistake, and it was. He's a stronger runner and ended up passing me again and beating me in the end, so I'll let it slide. The rest of the race was fast and on the usual course. Despite it being frigid out, only my face was frozen while my lungs were on fire. I forgot about that burn. I ended up finishing 1st woman, 13th overall, and only a slightly faster pace than last year. I really wasn't feeling very fast except on the climbs, and that single track section where I was stuck in a line definitely took a good 15-20 seconds off my time. All-in-all, I was happy with my race. I don't think I'll add in any extra snowshoe training. I feel like it's "good enough". Post-race, I had a nice 3.8 mile cool down with Abbey and Sam Wood and Eric Narcisi on the road down by Cranmore and back. We broke all of the rules by running 4 abreast WITH traffic and still survived to tell the tale. We got back in time for the awards. A big thank you to Kevin Tilton for putting on the race and to Jess Tilton for the baked goods, which I ate all of by the afternoon. Headed to the Moat after Whitaker with teammates, Don, Chris, Karen and Gianina, to refuel (that bagel and cream cheese and cookie I had just had didn't count). Good day, good race. Hoping Sidehiller happens this Sunday. Fingers crossed.

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