Thursday, March 29, 2018

Terrapin 50k - Another snowy run in Virginia

Brian and I returned to Terrapin 50k again this year.  It was a great early-season tune-up race, offering plenty of climbing and technical trails in a beautiful location (where the flowers are starting to bloom on race weekend).  Last year's race was a tough one for me - I ran a bit too hard in the early miles (especially the first downhill) and really suffered in the later miles.  I was determined to run smarter and not repeat that mistake this year.  However, as we neared the location, we noticed that there was still snow in the mountains - so it might be a slow day out there.  Yup, I'll repeat that - there was snow in the mountains March.  Ugghh!

The race started out fast, and I felt like I was immediately mid-pack in the first flat road mile.  Luckily, I found Sharron who I had run with  (and drank wine with) at Holiday Lakes, so we enjoyed the first few miles chatting.  As the course turned up, I was able to pass folks but found myself running basically alone.  The first 4 miles were uphill, so my goal was to run smart by not hard up this hill - which was hard because I felt strong on the uphills so I was running most of it (even as folks around me hiked).  I crested the climb to Camping Gap next to the lead female in the half marathon, and we wished each other good luck as our courses split.

(Running at last year's Terrapin Mountain 50k)

After that first aid station, the course turns down for about 6 miles of downhill dirt road.  This is where I destroyed my legs last year, so I took it easy and didn't push too hard on the downhill.  A few folks caught me but I appreciated the company to chat with.  After the course turned up, again, I was running where others were walking and once again I found myself mostly alone.  

Thursday, March 15, 2018

One Step Closer - 2018 Snowshoe National Championships

I've been snowshoeing off and on for years now - finding it to be an amazing way to embrace the winter and gain some strength in the snowy months.  It's a goofy sport, but one that prepares you well for spring-time races while you're working your butt off and having fun.  This winter was basically a bust in terms of opportunities to do winter sports - I only got my xc skis once, and only got on my snowshoes three times.  My studded shoes got plenty of miles as I was running on icy trails more than I liked.  However, with the Snowshoe National Championships in Vermont this winter - I guess I was going to race no matter how unprepared I was.

Hearing about the 40" of fresh powder that fell on the course in the days prior to the race only made me feel even more unprepared - I used to love the 'true snowshoe races' where we had to slog through fresh powder like this.  The more strength it took to run, the more fun I had - but a total of 2 hours on snowshoes this winter, I knew I didn't have the strength and technique to enjoy the fresh powder.  

Preparation before the race involved having Bob Dion replace the broken cleat on my snowshoe - it had broken on my 3rd snowshoe run of the season, two days prior, as I ran on the 3" of snow that fell in Western Mass.  Once fixed, I warmed up a bit and headed to the start.  My parents were there, so my mom kept me company and listened to my nervous pre-race chatter.  

(Start of Women's 10k race)

The race went out fast, as always, and I did my best to not fall too far behind.  Immediately, I got tangled with another runner and we both fell down.  I scrambled to get up, as runners climbed over us and passed us.  What a way to start this race...uugghh!