Center Sandwich, NEW HAMPSHIRE--The Sidehiller Snowshoe Race was the fourth race in the Granite State Snowshoe Series and my fourth snowshoe race of the winter. The rain that followed our race at King Pine put a damper (literally & figuratively) on the snowshoe racing conditions throughout southern and central New Hampshire. RD Paul Kirsch did his best to eek out the full four mile course, but the conditions on the opposite side of Bean Road just didn't cooperate. He settled for a modified course which included three roughly 1.7 mile loops on the Sandwich Fairgrounds. Maddie & Avery once again made the trip with me. We arrived by 9:30 am and found my teammate Rich Lavers and former US Champion Double D already there. It was great to see Dave back on the mend after recent back troubles threatened his 2010 snowshoe racing season. Before long the rest of the aR gang had arrived including Geoff Cunningham. But today Geoff would be taking pictures instead of battling for a podium finish. Some of the same problems that caused him to miss the entire 2009 competitive season have started to creep back up and he wisely took the day off. When Paul told me about the course at registration I did my best to put a positive spin on it. The reality was...I let the loath of loop courses get in my head. As Rich & I finished our warm-up we discussed strategy. I quickly made the decision to go out "easy" on the first lap (it was 5 frickin' miles after all!), pick it up on lap #2, and then see what happened on the bell lap. With an incredibly loaded field at the front I was content to position myself in the 2nd row. I hadn't thought about it until right at this moment, but I think this also reinforced my negative energy about the race. When the GO command was given the field SHOT off the line like it was a 100 meter dash! All at once at least 25 snowshoers were ahead of me and pushing hard. This was not what I had in mind. As I attempted to regain my bearings and assess who was ahead of me I recognized a couple of folks including Trail Monster Ryan Triffitt and teammates Ri Fahnestock, Jerry Fitzgibbon, and Rich! What the heck was Rich doing AHEAD of me?! Damn. He must have taken advantage of our conversation when I told him I was "going out easy". He was killin' it on the first lap! I have no problem losing to Rich, but he was going to have to earn the win over me. By the time we finished the first lap (:11 and change) I had passed Ryan & Jerry and was in the pull with Ri & Rich. As we started the 2nd lap I eased around Rich and settled in behind Ri. Easily one of the strongest competitors (mentally & physically) in any endurance event he's in...Ri Fahnestock is a warrior and it's always a pleasure to compete against him. The three of us held our position through the 2nd lap and began the last lap without any real threat from behind and the lead group too far ahead to catch. As we were racing my prevailing thought was that my legs felt empty and that I was content to stay with Ri and ahead of Rich. I think the two of them knew I was vulnerable and both attempted to exploit it in their own way. The only real "hill" (a 6-7 meter climb to a leach field) comes roughly a 1/3 of the way through the lap. It was here that Ri decided that his 2 meter lead on me was too close for comfort. I felt him accelerate as we climbed. I didn't have an answer. As he pulled away all I could do was watch. Now the focus turned squarely on holding off a highly motivated and incredibly fit Rich (I've been training with him for a month now). I must have spied over my shoulder 20 times in that last km. I crossed the finish line in 19th place (36:35). Rich missed out on a Top 20 finish by 8 seconds! It's hard to be disappointed when you get beat by the guys who are suppose to beat you, but I just didn't feel like myself. My first subpar performance in...well, in a very long time. It certainly made me realize that my subconscious sets the pace. That's something I need to continue to work on. Another great team turnout by my teammates from aR! Charlie Therriault, Tim Cox, and Danny Ferreira all finished in the Top 10. Amber Cullen won her 4th GSSS race in a row and Ann Rasmussen again joined her on the podium! Another HUGE aR showing (17 snowshoers) helped us take home another team title. This time over the emerging CMS Polar Bears.
Next Up: Horsehill 7k Snowshoe Race (Saturday) & Frosty's Dash (Sunday)
[Photo cred: Geoff Cunningham]
2016: Year in Review
3 months ago