Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sidehiller 4.3 mile snowshoe report

I met up with Dave Dunham at 6:30am at his house before arriving at Jim Johnson's castle where he and Kristen awaited in a warm, bright yellow Nissan Exterra. We sprinted up to Center Sandwich, NH in about 90 minutes but not before passing an Ice Fishing tournament at Lake Winnipesaukee. There were a ton of shacks, canopies, trucks, spectators, and anglers - er fisherman out there in a carnival-like atmosphere on the ice. It was pretty cool as Jim and I caught up on fresh water fishing experiences about 30 minutes before we saw this.

As I sign up for the race and hand over my check and race application, I am debating on signing up for USSSA - United States Snowshoe Association - so that I can qualify for the Championship race near Mt. Hood Oregon next month. The cost was $30 and I already looked into booking a direct flight which could be had under three hundred dollars. I took the membership application back with my checkbook and mulled it over. After speaking with a few teammates and their intentions, I decided not to sign up for the membership and qualifying here which was the purpose of the trip to Sidehiller. I was content with this decision as I lined up at the start. The weather was perfect, maybe mid 30's, no wind, and cloudy.

I settled in with a controlled start and put myself in about 9th or 10th about 400m into the race which was on a groomed section for at least 1000m. I could not seem to get into a groove with regard to stride. The cleat never seemed to get a good grip so each step was pissing me off and I altered stride to get comfortable which never happens on snowshoes unless I am climbing or descending. I strain my quads on the flat sections fighting to get traction and find a good stride. My quads are usually trashed and feel them the next day.

I passed a few folks including Al Bernier on the 1st single track climb while I took small steps. The climb was not steep nor too long. Tim Van Orden was in sight. I tried to go after him on the 1st open field. Over the next 15 minutes I kept pace with Tim's stride but never closed the gap. I hated each step even though the conditions were good. It reminded me of the lack of rhythm on tough conditions on snowshoes. This is when the snow is deep and you have to work your ass off to get anywhere. But today, the snow depth and conditions were favorable for a fast jaunt. I never got into this race mentally or physically. My effort basically reinforced my decision to not sign up for the USSSA membership in order to be considered for the qualification to the Championship race in Oregon.

Meanwhile, I thought about the guys battling at the front and wondered how things shook out for them. That is not a good sign when I am racing and my thoughts are about my teammates ahead of me. As it turned out Kevin took the win, passing Jim in the last mile. Dave Dunham finished about two minutes back from Jim and Al Bernier was about a half minute behind me.

4 Mile Snowshoe Race - USSSA Qualifier
Center Sandwich, NH, February 7, 2009

PLACE First Last Age M/F City ST Team USSSA MIN SEC
1 Kevin Tilton 27 M Conway NH CMS 31 40
2 Jim Johnson 31 M Salem NH CMS 31 54
3 Dave Dunham 44 M Ward Hill MA WMAC/CMS Y 33 53
4 Robert Jackman 26 M Warwick RI TNT 36 07
5 Tim VanOrden 40 M Barrington VT CMS 37 08
6 James Pawlicki 34 M Beverly MA CMS 37 35
7 Al Bernier 34 M Newton NH CMS 38 09

The post race grub was at the local sandwich shop about a 100 yards away from the start and finish. I got some hot and sour soup with a piece of bread. The soup was awesome. The CMS folk exchanged some stories and we headed for home where I had to rush and meet up with Kristen at home for a shower and quick snack. We were meeting up with Joe Shairs and his son to attend the Boston Indoor Games at 5pm.

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