Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Whitaker Woods Snowshoe Scramble

Whitaker Woods Snowshoe Scramble is always the most difficult race for me every year. I think it's because it's the first one of the Series and the first time you're getting that good lung burn reminding you that you must be crazy to find snowshoe racing fun. I was also pretty nervous about how well I would do considering I was still out of shape. I had only been back running a month and a half and really only picked back up on the speed 3 weeks prior, so I had a feeling it was going to be a bad race for me.

John and I drove over to Whitaker Woods. The weather was pretty awesome since it was snowing. Last year I would have said the opposite, but we needed the snow this time around. John fell back asleep in the car and stayed there until AFTER the race. He was tired and wanted to stay in the car to sleep. That was fine with me. As what happens every year at Whitaker, I stepped out of my car to so many familiar faces that I've missed the last few months. I've said it before, but these people are like family to me since I don't have anyone else other than John within 1200 miles. I love it. I went inside, chatted a bit and then got all ready for a warm up, which I did solo. I was too nervous so I wanted to run alone to be able to think about the upcoming race; go through the course in my mind. I only did 1.5 miles then got back to the start area to get ready for the start. I didn't see any competition around so that made me feel a little relieved, but I was still thinking about how much slower this was going to be than 2015. The course was the same as 2015, so I would be able to compare at the end.

I had decided to bite the bullet and wear the new Six03 nordic suit. I don't usually wear stuff like that, so I was a bit self-conscious, especially being over my normal race weight. I was definitely not super comfortable. Haha. But whatever. We lined up on the line for the start, listened to Kevin Tilton's pre-race speech and then we were off. I shot off fast, too fast, but that was my goal. I usually try to get as far ahead as I can right from the start. Tom Hooper and I ended up running together for probably the first 1/3 of the race. I commented to Tom just as we entered the tree line about .1 from the start that I was already done. I felt like it. My lungs wanted to pop out of my chest and my legs were screaming. The first climb wasn't too bad, however, but I could tell I was moving slowly. I hustled down the next hill and then suffered again on the longest climb on the course. I was getting dropped and/or passed by people I was beating easily last year. That was definitely a punch in the gut. I was still with Tom up this part and right behind Scott Mitchell and another racer. By the time we climbed the hill and finished the downhill single track, the other racer and Tom were really beginning to slow, so I finally passed them, just trying to stay as close to Scott as possible. From here, I was in the place I would finish in. I wouldn't pass anyone, nor get passed. Scott would finish ahead of me, but his lead continued to grow from this point on. We came out of the next single track portion onto the power line trail and looped back around. I was shocked to see the second woman, Sarah Canney, pop out of the woods only about a minute back. I knew I had the race in the bag, but I wasn't expecting it to be so close. I felt disappointed knowing that I was not in the same place as before, but I kept plugging away. The trail stays mostly flat from this point on so I attempted to keep a strong pace. By the time I hit the field, I was spent. Like nothing left in the tank. I was sucking wind so badly after I came through the finish. So out of shape for this! I was 1st woman but finished the 3.8 miles with a sad 14th place overall in 32:19, about 2 minutes slower than 2015. I was definitely happy with the win, don't get me wrong, but it stung. I was so disappointed. Full Results
Only about .3 to go! Photo by Jamie Gemmiti
John got out of the car and came into the building to hang out while I did a short 1 mile cool down solo. I wanted to be alone to once again think about the race and try to boost myself up a bit mentally before heading back into the crowd of racers. It worked. I definitely felt much better and enjoyed socializing with some Six03 teammates before the awards. I know Kevin was stressing at awards time on getting my name right this time, and he was able to pull it off. Leslie Beckwith is no more! Haha. The awards were pretty sweet, literally and figuratively. Kevin's wife, Jess, made some awesome baked goods that I proceeded to eat all of in a span of 2 hours. I also got $40 to the Moat and a fleece pullover from Ragged Mt.

John asleep in the car at the race

Don Fredrikson and me. Photo by Diane Levesque
John and I went home from the race to grab the dogs for a ski at the Albany Town Forest. I apparently had the wrong wax on my skis for that type of snow and pretty much had to walk on my skis the whole way. The snow kept sticking to the skis making it impossible for them to slide. We still got in 2.1 miles. By the time we got home I was beat. I had another race the next day, but I decided to have a few beers anyway. I didn't care too much how I did since it was only a 3-miler. Just racing it for the speed work.

Afternoon ski at the Albany Town Forest

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