"Gravity is the contributing factor in nearly 73% of all accidents involving falling objects." -Dave Barry
SATURDAY: WinterWild Whaleback
Enfield, NEW HAMPSHIRE - Everyone once in a while it's good to try new things. Even if those new things drag you out of bed at 3:30 am in January, drive across the state, and run to the top of a ski slope...and of course back down. Such was my first experience at the wildly popular new race series here in NH, the WinterWild hosted by Chad Denning. Full disclosure: aR will be hosting the WinterWild Championship at Bretton Woods in March so I thought it would be a good idea to check the 'phenomena' out for myself. Plus, I'm a decent uphill runner. Going back down, however, is another story entirely. I met teammate Rich Lavers at "the" Park & Ride in Concord and we drop up together. Rich is a veteran of these races but hadn't done this particular stop in 2011. We arrived about an hour before the start and got the intel on the course...0.6 miles to the summit and then a return trip back down on the same slope. There would be about 100 meters of flat with a slight uphill finish in soft chewed up snow. I changed into my MicroSpikes and trail shoes and warmed up. Just as soon as the race started a group of about 10 competitors pushed hard on the initial flat and attacked the hill. I stayed cautiously to the outside edge of the pack and settled in as we began to climb. Within 30 seconds of ascending I could feel my heart pounding out of my chest as my complete lack of preparation for this type of race became painfully obvious. Learning to stay patient with uphill-type races I found a cadence and slowly began picking people off. I ran approximately 1/2 way up the climb before alternating between running and walking particularly on the very steep sections. By the time I reached the top I had managed to move into 6th place overall. As I began the descent I noticed two competitors directly ahead. Traditionally I've struggled with descending. It's probably more fear than lack of fitness. For some reason however this time was different. Feeling confident in my grip I leaned forward and used my arms like windmill counterbalances as I wildly threw myself back down the mountain actually picking up two places in the process! Just as I leveled out at the bottom I gave 4th place back and lost to the overall masters winners by a second. I finished the 1.2 mile course in 13:13 (2nd Masters). While cooling down with Rich my left calf felt very tight and a little crampy. We drove back to Concord in a snow squall...where was this weeks ago?!
"A true friend is someone who thinks you're a good egg even though he knows you are slightly cracked." -Bernard Meltzer
SUNDAY: Hebron Hills Snowshoe Classic
Hebron, MAINE -- This really is one of my favorite races and race courses of the entire year. Our teammate Austin Stonebraker has designed a fabulous track on the campus of Hebron Academy. This year, however, the course had to be slightly modified due to the lack of snow. Much of the killer singletrack would be left out but all of the hills would remain...and we'd get a chance to do all of them TWICE as the course would be a double loop measuring around 4.5 total miles. My calves were trashed from my WinterWild exploits 24 hours earlier. I actually had a noticeable limp when I attempted to warm up. And "warm up" was a relative thing as temperatures were close to zero with wind chills in the negative double digits at the start. Sizing up the competition at the start it was obvious that I wouldn't be running with the top 2...aR's Judson Cake and top masters snowshoer Scott Horney. Also in the field was my good friend Chuck Hazzard from Trail Monster Running. Chuck and I have duked it out on trails, mountains, and snow over the years with our overall head-to-head series probably dead even. Right there at the start I devised a plan...I'd race with Chuck and let him keep me company. Not feeling quite 100% and the first time racing on the racquet's this winter it seemed like a good strategy. When the race started Judson and Scott quickly gaped the field. Chuck also got a great start and shot out ahead obviously not having planned the same race strategy as myself. Within a 100 meters I had caught him and we were running side by side and all alone in 3rd & 4th place. And moments later we having a conversation...perfect. I think he figured me out right away and because he's such a great guy he played along. We tempo'd the course with me pulling slightly ahead on the ascents and him bombing by me on the descents. As we neared the finish line he just nipped me at the tape. I finished 4th overall in 41:22 (2nd Masters). I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to run every hill on the course including "breaker" both times. All in all a great start to the 2012 racing season!
NEXT UP: Whitaker Woods Snowshoe Scramble (North Conway, NH)
2016: Year in Review
3 months ago