Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sidehiller snowshoe race

It was so cold four hours before the race that my two co-pilots for the 2.25 hour trip north to Center Sandwich, NH had other thoughts. I talked my friend Brett Rickenbach into the race a few days before. It would have been his first snowshoe race. Kristen on the other hand, had to be talked out of it, after learning that I would be driving alone. Standing in bitter cold temps taking photos would be torture. Alas, I rolled out of the driveway in the VW GTI with the ambient temperature guage reading 5 degrees solo with two stations on Sirius Satellite Radio, Metal station 27, and Faction station 28 keeping me company. I arrived at 10am to register with Paul Kirsch and do a warmup with CMS and TNT folks. I had too many layers on and was pretty hot upon return to the car to get my gear for the 11am race. I went with three light layers up top, two pairs of running pants, and two pairs of gloves. I'd say the temperature was close to ten degrees but thankfully not as windy as the previous two days.

This race was a regional qualifier for snowshoe Nationals in New York State in March. The level of competition was stacked. A few new faces were upon us from CMS like Peter Mallett and Eric Morse. The usual suspects who have been in the top five all winter were there. The course was going to be a quick one with three loops around the fairgrounds which Paul felt was about 1.7 miles for each loop. There were a few hills to remind you that they exist but overall a fair course with some single track in the woods to get your attention. The race went out like a bullet which was no surprise. Some of the course was on ice and the Dion's held up fine if perhaps loosening the rivets on the front of the cleats.

I got through the first loop under 11 minutes feeling tired and dreaded two more loops. Dave Dunham was just ahead mixing it up with a small pack. Steve Wolfe went by me minutes later and I had no response. My second loop was more than a minute slower. I seem to recall close to 23 minutes on the clock. I focused on Eric Morse on the last lap and wanted to get this race over with. He hung in there to finish seven seconds in front of me. I was wiped out. I finished in 13th place with a time of 34:51. Kevin Tilton took the win with Josh Ferenc taking the silver and Jim Johnson settling for bronze. My Garmin calculated that I covered 4.86 miles and averaged 7:11 pace along the way.

I changed into some dry clothes and was the first to redeem my bib number ticket for Tomato Basil soup and a slice of bread at Mocha Rizing. I went back to the finish line to chat with the competitors on their races and the rest of the season. Reeder Fahnestock talked about shoveling snow to get a rail in order to get Exeter ready for next Saturday. We need some snow. Dave Dunham mentioned that Northfield is all ice at the moment. He'll get an update on Wednesday. Dave gave me his bib as he was leaving for home. Thus I caught up with Robert Jackman, Dave Quintal, and Ben Nephew for another cup of soup and bread.

Jamie Gemmiti Photos

Monday, January 25, 2010

Pooh Hill Snowshoe Scramble

I was looking forward to this race for a few reasons: to race on some groomed terrain and to check out an Acidotic, Chris Dunn, event that I have been hearing about. All one had to do was hang out for the awards and you'll know what I am talking about. There were plenty of prizes and raffles. Scott Mason scored a new pair of snowshoes. Kristen scored a bottle of Hammer Gel, squeeze bottle before the race and then won a Kona Brewing Company hat after the race. I saw some Red Hook six packs handed out (must be over 21 of course). Kristen was concerned about being out on the course too long during the race so she turned around after twenty minutes in the race and came back to grab the camera to get a ton of photos. I finished up in fifth right behind Kevin Tilton. I held that spot from about 50 yards into the race and trailed Kevin 10-20 seconds the whole race. He'd be the last to make an excuse but his Dion's have seen better days. He should be in a fresh pair this Saturday at Sidehiller. Results. My Garmin GPS advised that I covered 4.69 miles in 36:59 which converts to a 7:53/mile clip. The high point on the course was 558ft at 2.5 miles and the lowest part was 440ft at 1 mile. The race started at 488ft and finished at 466ft.

I was chatting with some of the Acidotic crew after the race. We noted how each of us show our strengths and weaknesses depending on the type of course. This modified Pooh Hill course (Pooh Hill was excluded this year) was my style of course where there was no long grind up an ascent, just rolling hills and some groomed track. I was a bit sloppy even on the groomed stuff in areas for this 155 lb slug. At any rate, the folks in front of me made short order with DoubleJ remaining unbeaten this winter with another win. Ben Nephew hung tough for second and Robert Jackman came up from Rhode Island to finish 3rd.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Feel Good Farm Snowshoe

I got bit by the snowshoe bug at the Olde Salem Greens Snowshoe Classic last Saturday (results). I went home that day and searched for upcoming races and found the Granite State Snowshoe Series. The next race was held today in Lyndeborough, NH, only 90 minutes away from Beverly. What I did not account for was a ball-buster of a course hosted by Feel Good Farm and race director, Michael Amarello of 3crace productions. I read that we had to do Moose Mountain four times, and I certainly did, slowly. Feel Good Farm has 540 acres of land. There was plenty of animals milling about.

After helping a few first time snowshoers with advice and snowshoe adjustments at the starting line, I headed out and got buried in sixteenth place about 100m in as the single track hit us and the climb ensued. I got a chance to pass a few on the first climb between stepping around and or from an offer in front of me to step aside. I was then in tenth place at the top with a hardcore descent into the backside of the mountain where the lowest part of the course awaited. Then another climb back up was there at 1.6 miles to insult us again. I passed three more guys as all four of us mixed a slow crawl of walk - trot - run to the top where Scott Mason awaited to capture drool, snot, and sweat with his Nikon camera. See photos.

I got down the bottom approaching the half way mark. Tim Cox (Acidotic - CMS), who was spectating, had words of encouragement. I failed to check on the half way split but heard I was in sixth place. I couldn't see anyone in front of me so I had no way to judge spacing but Chris Dunn was on my heels soon enough as we approached the ascent again up Moose Mountain. It was here that I trotted up and he was walking but keeping pace at my heels. I got some distance at the top and into the descent over the next mile but not much as I would peek back and see company about twenty seconds back.

I pulled into the finish line just under 43 minutes for a distant sixth place (results). It was clear the five guys in front of me finished minutes ahead of me. Kevin Tilton and Ben Nephew were already cooling down. They finished 1st and 3rd respectively. Just behind me was Reeder Fahnestock, Chris Dunn, and Chris Mahoney who ran his first snowshoe race. I told Chris that this was a tough introduction to snowshoe racing. The rest, unless going through two feet of snow, should be easier. I cooled down with new CMS teamate Christain Muentener and then caught up with CMS 'mates Kevin and Ben for a few minutes. I picked up a Feel Good Farm Pint Glass for 3rd place in the age group and a raffle prize which will be a gift for a friend. In all, this was a great event and as always, great people.

Kristen (photos) and Scott Mason (photos) were everywhere on the course taking photos. My Garmin measured 4.03 miles today. How does 10:40 pace per mile on snowshoes sound? The high point on the course was 878ft and just about touched that four times today. The low point was 499ft while the race started at 648ft.

The Pooh Hill Showshoe Scramble in East Madison, New Hampshire is the next race. Perhaps I can convince Kristen and the GTI for another day trip.