Dare Mighty Things

"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those timid spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat." -Teddy Roosevelt

Monday, December 27, 2010

I Love Woodford

There's no better prize in snowshoe
racing then a loaf of bread
from the VT Bread Company!
"True leadership must be for the benefit of the followers, not the enrichment of the leaders."
-Robert Townsend

WOODFORD, Vermont -- My 2010 racing season came full circle yesterday at the I Love Woodford snowshoe race.  It was 12 months ago that my first race of the year was had on snowshoe's as well.  As the first "Cup Event" of the new Northeast Snowshoe Federation there was extra motivation to take the trip west to the beautiful Bennington County region of the state.  Last winter was brutal for snowshoe racing as many races were postponed and some were even cancelled due to the sketchy conditions.  Rumor had it that Woodford always had snow so NH-Masters Runner of the Year, teammate, and all around great guy Steve Wolfe and I headed to VT.  The "Blizzard of 2010" notwithstanding, southern NH hadn't had a significant snowfall prior to Sunday.  Which meant that my first time on snowshoes (in 9 months) would be race day.  Steve and I arrived early and had a chance to chat with our snowshoe friends Dave Dunham, Bob Dion, and Bill Morse.  It's hard to say what I enjoy more about the sport...the people, the beautiful locations, or the competition?  Then again, why choose?  Wolfe and I headed over to the start about 30 minutes early to warm-up and scout the last few hundred meters.  The roughly 3.5 mile lollipop would be comprised of 100% virgin snow with 90% fast & packed twisting singletrack.  I made a mental note before the race that the first and last 300+ meters was on a park access road and provided plenty of opportunity to pass.  A pre-race scan revealed the typical big hitters including defending WMAC & GSSS Champion Jim Johnson, the #1 ranked Master in the Northeast Tim VanOrden, Dunham, and of course my teammate Steve Wolfe.  I didn't recognize many other faces and the field seemed a little smaller than race reports from previous years had indicated so I felt comfortable lining up in the second row.  As soon as the start command was given and I was 100 meters or so into the race the whole snowshoe racing thing came back to me as if March were yesterday.  And Wolfe was right...it started like a road 5k.  With snow and elbows flying I stayed to the right outside line and focused on not falling on this initial stretch with 100+ sets of sharp cleats bearing down on me from behind.  The field thinned and got in single file as we climbed the first and only significant ascent of the course.  I was directly behind Wolfe letting him pull me up the hill (which he really enjoys).  The two of us were in the Top 10 as we hit the singletrack.  Almost immediately into this section a couple of snowshoers came back to us as we pushed hard on the rollercoaster fast packed snow.  Steve leapfrogged a slower competitor putting that 'shoer between us.  Within two minutes the guy asked if I wanted the spot to which I happily obliged.  At this point Steve had already overtaken another competitor and was quickly working out of sight.  Within a minute or so I had caught John Agosto of the Shenipsit Striders, a fellow Masters competitor, and heck of a snowshoer and trail runner.  John was working really hard and maintaining a great cadence so I stuck on his heels as we flew around Adams Reservoir.  Just before we popped back out onto the access road for the 1/4 mile to the finish I peeked back to see if we would have a challenge.  Without anything in sight it was John and I for the two spots.  As I pulled alongside of him I implored him to continue to work as he had earned the spot ahead of me for his effort on the singletrack.  He thanked me and encouraged me to go ahead.  Feeling fresh and confident of the location of the finish I leaned forward and tried to muster a snowshoe-specific "kick".  I felt very strong and relaxed as I finished in 24:57 and 7th overall (4th Master).  Steve finished about 40 seconds and 1 place ahead of me in 6th overall.  Excellent showing for aR with two in the Top 10.  And just as advertised we were handed a loaf of bread from the Vermont Bread Company.  I ate three slices of my Vermont Sweet (made with VT maple syrup) on the ride home.  As physically demanding as snowshoe racing is it's equally as fun.  It just doesn't get any better than flying through a beautiful snow covered forest with great competitors.  What a fitting ending to a brilliant year of racing!  Can't wait for the next snowshoe race...and the start of 2011.

NEXT UP:  Beaver Brook Snowshoe Race, Hollis, NH (GSSS #1)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Andover XC

aR Takes Home 3rd Place
in the Team Division
"If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."  -Sir Isaac Newton

Andover,  MASSACHUSETTS -- Much like many of the events I did in 2010, this one wasn't on the radar last December when I set my schedule...but it's sure to be included in 2011.  The Andover XC 6k was my first ever attempt at a classic XC race.  I played football in high school and ran only as a punishment routinely mocking the "skinny leggers" who thrashed around the woods in tight shorts and waffle shoes.  I am now 'they' and wouldn't want it any other way.  My motivation for heading to Andover on Turkey weekend was simple...a teammate suggested we put together a team to race for a podium finish.  Little did I realize how difficult that objective would be.  Turns out the Andover XC 6k brings out one of the fastest and deepest XC fields in the northeast with some of the best teams around.  Although acidotic RACING is really a collection of multi-sport athletes, there is no "running-specific" team that races with more tenacity than we do.  And some talent up front as well.  Led by our newest addition, Ryan Kelly (Concord, NH), our Top 4 scorers including Ryan, Danny Ferreira (Concord, NH), myself, and Chris Benson (Rochester, NH) finished on the podium in 3rd place less than 2 minutes behind Somerville Road Runners.  Although our Top 4 scored, all eight of the aR teammates in attendance raced with toughness and class.   In fact, Amber Ferreira (Concord, NH) finished on the overall womens podium (in 3rd) with her 41st overall finish.  Individually, I was very pleased with my effort finishing in 34th overall in a time of 21:39.33 (6:12's).  The course was run mostly on the Andover Country Club cart paths with a sprinkling of fairways.  I had bought a pair of ASICS CC spikes which stayed in the truck once I found out that they'd be not only useless but a hindrance on this course.  I raced instead in my ASICS trainers.  The course was dry and the footing never an issue.  As was the theme all year, I caught and passed people on the climbs and gave the spots back on the descents.  It was a fitting end to a very successful 2010 competitive year.  Tomorrow begins my snowshoe-specific preparation and the start of 2011 training and racing calendar.

NEXT UP:  Beaver Brook Snowshoe Race