Monday, December 19, 2005

Season of the SnōShū, weekend #1
I Love Woodford 3.5 mi Snowshoe Race
Sunday December 18, 2005

Well, true to form getting there turned out to be a minor adventure. As I packed my gear this morning, I was thinking that after doing 16 races/events this year, prepping to leave for a race has become pretty much old hat - I no longer stress over "do I have this" and "do I have that" like I did back when I only did one or two races a year. Lugged everything down to the car - and discovered that one of my front tires was very low on air. So that launched a 20 minute job of putting on the spare, complicated by the fact that my car (like every other car on my street) was parked on a sheet of ice. But 20 hot sweaty minutes later (I was drenched by the time I was done... great way to start a 75 minute drive to run a race in the snow) the spare was on and I was on my way.

The drive over is a pretty one through the mountains - the race is in the Green Mountains National Forest, which is a pretty cool place to go. Unfortunately missed the turn on my first pass and had to go back, but finally found the parking lot and picked up my race number with no problems. While waiting in line at the porta-john (a common pre-race ritual) I was told that we had to hike down to the starting line, which was on the other side of the highway. So once I was all geared up, off I went... up hill and downhill through the woods in about a foot on snow (good thing I was wearing snowshoes!) with the final bit to get to the road down a STEEP hill, which I was barely able to make it down without breaking my neck. Keep in mind this was just to get to the starting line!

(Afterwards I walked back to the starting/finish line to take a couple of photos... I walked along the road! MUCH easier.)

Anyway, so we all lined up, the race director said some stuff that none of us could hear, people around me said "We're in the back - it'll be all packed down, so how hard can it be to keep on the course?" and then - off we went.

photo courtesy of

Now, my version of packed down and everyone else's version clearly differs... snowshoes don't really pack snow, they just shift it down and out of the way. But it's still unstable, slippery, etc. I ran down the snow covered forest road for a bit, maxed out my cardiovascular and pulmonary systems, and then we got to the singletrack section, and I spent much of the next 45-50 minutes hiking. It was a very pretty course (what I could see when my glasses weren't clouded over) but I didn't have a prayer of running most of it... not enough juice in my legs (and here I thought I was in decent shape running half marathon distances on trails this fall) and I'm just not used to running with snowshoes in snow a foot deep (well - the trail was "packed" so it wasn't a foot deep.) So I eventually managed a semi-efficient type of speed-hike which maybe in time I can turn into running on singletrack trails. For the last quarter to half a mile I did run ( we ended up back on the snow covered road) so I crossed the finish line at 1:04 gasping and running (that averages to 18.25 minute miles), but most of it I walked. And walking it was HARD WORK. My legs feel like I ran a half marathon.

We all got a loaf of bread at the finish (one of the sponsors was the Vermont Bread Company.) I thought that was cool, until I had to hike back to the parking lot uphill in snowshoes with a loaf of bread in one hand. Now I think it was just somebody’s idea of a cruel joke.

Had I known I'd be walking so much I would have taken a disposable camera with me and taken pictures of the course. Instead all I have are some shots of the registration area, the hike to the start/finish, and the start/finish. I did get one of the "officials" to take a picture of me running toward the finish when I went back down to take pictures… but unfortunately she must not have pressed the button all the way, because the picture didn’t come out. Clearly I need to get a digital camera (preferably a water-resistant one that I can take out on race courses with me!)

Oh, and your backside goes numb from the snowspray kicked up by the back halves of the shoes... I forgot my back was covered with snow and sat down in the car before changing clothes, then had to clean snow off the seat. I wonder if they make snowshoe gear that's teflon-coated in the back...

The cranky old right knee twinged and pinged a couple of times... it's going to take practice to figure out how best to protect it while on snowshoes. But it didn't go out, so that's OK.

The next race is January 7 - a 5 miler in Savoy State Forest in NW Massachusetts (assuming they have snow on the trails.) I clearly need to get out snowshoe running a good deal more between now and then, so that maybe I can run a bit more than I ran today. Of course, that means I also need to find someplace with actual snow to run in… Albany does not qualify in that department.

Time to take a shower (to try and finish warming up) and then I have to convince myself to do work instead of just going to sleep.


This was the last race of 2005! 18 races this year, covering 115 miles of running, 165 miles of biking, and 3.5 miles of snowshoeing, in 4 states - NY, MA, RI, and VT. (or should that be the equally applicable states of exhaustion, injury, confusion, and insanity.) Not too shabby considering how little running and riding I'd done prior to March this year... next year with luck and a little hard work will be even better...

2005 races/rides

  • Dodge the Deer 5K trail race, Apr 2005
  • Leatherman's Loop 10K trail race, Apr 2005
  • Rochester Spring Classic Duathlon, May 2005
  • Greylock 3 mi trail race, June 2005
  • Summer Solstice 14K trail race, June 2005
  • Indian Ladder 15K trail race, July 2005
  • Greylock Half Century 50 mi ride, Aug 2005
  • Savoy Mountain 4.5 mi trail race, Aug 2005
  • Mohawk Hudson Cycling Club Metric Century 65 mi ride, Sept 2005
  • Jordan Alpine Classic 8.5 mi trail/road race, Sept 2005
  • Pfalz Point Trail Challenge 10 mi trail race, Sept 2005
  • Rochester Autumn Classic Duathlon, Oct 2005
  • Monroe Dunbar Brook 11.5 mi trail race, Oct 2005
  • Black Diamond Off Road Duathlon, Oct 2005
  • Hairy Gorilla Half Marathon trail race, Oct 2005
  • After the Leaves Have Fallen 20K trail race, Nov 2005
  • Lil Rhody Run Around 8.5 mi trail race, Nov 2005
  • I Love Woodford 3.5 mi snowshoe race, Dec 2005

Saturday, December 10, 2005

XC Skiing in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve
Friday, December 9, 2005

photo slideshow

Snow day! Snow day! Snow day!

While it may be no fun getting a phone call at 5:30 AM - I really don't mind when it's to let us know we have a snow day.

Used the morning productively - I ordered my new Dion snowshoes! ( From what little I've seen so far Bob Dion has a great company and he truly cares about his customers - I'm really looking forward to getting mine and giving them a try!

In the afternoon I set off with my XC skiis for the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. I wasn't the first one out on the trails (and I ran into several other folks gliding along. Well, sort of.) Trails were looking pretty nice under about 6 inches of snow. Unfortunately, it was very WET snow, and every five minutes or so I needed to stop and scrape the snowpack off my skiis. In other words, it was a long hard slog with not a whole lot of gliding going on. But I did get some nice pictures...
and a fairly strenuous workout, though not the kind I was hoping for!