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

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Whitaker Woods Snowshoe Scramble

The start of the 2012 Whitaker Woods Snowshoe Scramble
[Photo courtesy of Gianina Lindsey]
"The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure."  -Sven Goran Eriksson
North Conway, NEW HAMPSHIRE -- One of the not-so-obvious benefits of frequent racing for me is a lack of fear.  So often endurance athletes are hesitant to push beyond the obstruction for fear of what lies on the other side.  The result so often is finishing a race with regrets about leaving "something in the tank".  Experience (and racing a lot) has taught me that I can go to that incredibly uncomfortable place and stay there assuming my training and preparation has been consistent and purposeful.  This weekend was my second snowshoe race of 2012.  I picked up my teammates Timmy & Gianina Lindsey for the ninety minute ride to beautiful North Conway for the Whitaker Woods Snowshoe Scramble hosted by Kevin & Jess Tilton.  I was very pleased and proud to see such a great acidotic RACING turnout as well as some of my good snowshoe racing friends.  The Scramble would be a 4 mile combination of groomed nordic and fresh powdery snowshoe singletrack with what seemed like 75% climbing.  I had apparently repressed the memory of how much climbing this course had because I was amazed how much we went up.  Fortunately I fashion myself as a climber so it actually fit my strength.  At the gun I got off fast and found myself running in the top 5 stride for stride with past US Snowshoe Racing champion Dave Dunham.  In short time however Dave began to move and effortlessly pulled away from me as he chased down the leaders Jim Johnson, Judson Cake (aR), and Danny Ferreira (aR) leaving me in 5th place overall.  The course switches and winds back onto itself enough to occasionally catch a glimpse of the pursuit.  And I could clearly make out my teammate Ryan Welts and a member of the Tuesday Night Turtles (who I later learned is named Chris...interestingly enough).  I've only occasionally beaten Ryan on snowshoes and it's almost always early in the season before he gets his "racquet legs" under him.  A fearless and tenacious descender I had a feeling that when we eventually lost the elevation we'd gained he would shoot by me as is his MO.  What I didn't expect however was to be overtaken by this newcomer from the TNTs.  At approximately the 1/2 way mark he passed me on a short groomed nordic descent and would maintain the 50 meter gap for the rest of the race.  I pushed as hard as I could on the singletrack sections as the soft snow provided very little purchase and occasionally spied back at Ryan to measure the gap.  Surprisingly he didn't seem to be getting any closer.  When I popped back onto the ball field for the last 100 meters of the race I looked back one last time and didn't see him.  I finished 6th overall (2nd Masters) in 31:11 (7:47's).  Amazingly, I ran the exact same time last winter on this course but finished 16th overall.  I'll never be a podium contender but I'm no less satisfied with my results particularly when I can take a seat on the 'pain train' and ride it to the last stop.

I'm old...but not as old as my
snowy beard would suggest.
[Photo courtesy of Gianina Lindsey]

NEXT UP:  Sidehiller Snowshoe Race, Center Sandwich, NH

POST SCRIPT:  Tremendous kudos to Kevin & Jess Tilton for putting on another outstanding event.  The course was expertly marked and very well designed.  Registration was effortless and well organized.  There were even handmade prizes again this year.  A nice touch.  And a heartfelt thank you to my teammates Gary, Richie, Lisa, Timmy, Ryan, Kristina, Mariano, Mike, Danny, Jay, Robin, Leslie, Dan, and Judson for showing up and RACING acidotic.  Not to mention winning yet another team title and putting two on the overall podium (Leslie 1st and Judson 2nd).  I'll look to carry this momentum onto Sidehiller next weekend against the deepest and most talented field I'll face all winter long.

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