Well folks, I’m behind on my posts once again. In fact, I’m about 2 posts behind to be exact. Things have been pretty busy around the old homestead, and I just couldn’t seem to find the time to get my thoughts in order. So, you’ll have to bear with me as I turn the clock back to last weekend first, then get to this weekend and fill you in on that. Both weekends saw me putting in some time in the great outdoors, not only training, but racing hard. Last weekend was the Canadian National Snowshoe champs, and this past weekend was the Raid Pulse winter adventure race. Both were great events, so they each get their own blog post. Now, recently, I’ve also been accused of basically writing War and Peace every time I try to put up a blog post, so I’m going to do my very best to be concise and to the point, rather than writing out the minutiae of the events. No promises though. Last weekend was also a poker night out of town at Adam’s in Embrun, so I’ll put that in this post as well. In the meantime, feel free to check out the pictures of the snowshoe race, and pictures of the poker night. Then read on for some details about both and see how I fared. Since you’ve all been so patient for the story, I’ve also pulled together a bonus map with some pro pictures from the race. Enjoy 🙂
Leading up to the weekend, I didn’t seem to find as much time to devote to training as I’d like to. Not only that, but my knee was getting pretty sore for no apparent reason. Also, I’ve been sick for over two weeks, and can’t seem to shake the cough and draggy feeling. Due to those things, I really didn’t have high hopes for the Snowshoe Champs. So when we got an email from Al and Matt seeing if we wanted to do something, we said yes. The plan was for some Chinese take-out, followed by some beverages and games. Normally, I’d keep the drink count to a minimum or nothing the night before a race, but since I had already resigned myself to a lacklustre performance, I decided what the heck and tipped a few back. I didn’t get to bed till about 12:30, and had to be up bright and early to meet my carpool to the race downtown.
Next morning, I woke up slightly foggy-headed, chowed down on my traditional race breakfast of oatmeal, and got Jody to drop me off in Sandy Hill. The pressure was pretty much off me in my mind, and I just decided to see how things would go. I popped two Tylenol, which I generally shy away from, but just wanted a little less knee pain during the race. Once at the Ark, the race preparations were underway for a lot of people. The number of racers was pretty much the same as it had been at the last two races, which looked to be about 30 racers or less in the 10k race. This time, we’d be doing two different loops, first the ‘flatter’ loop, followed by the ‘hilly’ loop. The past week had been pretty mild, so a lot of the snow had melted and then re-froze into a very hard-packed track. Luckily we did get some snow at the end of the week, so the hard-pack was topped off with just the right amount of powder for a race.
Conditions were warmer than the last two races as well. It became clear very quickly that this was going to be a fast day for a lot of people. I toed the line, and stayed just a little back from the front of the pack this time, knowing I was unlikely to be able to challenge for a top 3 finish. The starting gun went off, and I just tried to push my little legs as much as I could, to see how the first few hills would feel. Instantly, my heartrate climbed over 180bpm, and I don’t think it dropped below that for the rest of the race. In fact, my average heart rate over the whole race was 181bpm, and my max was 189bpm. Crazy, isn’t it? You’d think I was pushing hard or something 🙂 I quickly settled into a good hard pace, and just tried to keep it up. Normally, after a little while, I find myself alone on the trails, but this time, I seemed to be sandwiched between a couple other racers. This definitely helped me stay motivated and pushing hard. Especially when I was passed by a friend of mine, Mike Abraham. I’m sure his plan was to pass me and not look back, but I stayed on the tails of his shoes for almost the entire race, until the very last steeeep hill.
At that point in the race, my legs literally felt like they had drained the blood and filled up with lead instead. I couldn’t put in a kick to keep up with him on the final ascent. In the end, it meant I was about 15-20 seconds back from him. Sure didn’t hurt my overall time though, as I soon realized that I’d finished the race in just over 1 hour. In fact, 26 seconds over one hour! I was ecstatic. That was my fastest snowshoe race ever. On the flat loop, I’d actually finished the first lap in 28 minutes! Stunning! Of course, I wasn’t the only one with a great time, and all told, 6 racers came in under 1 hour, including 1 female, who’d traveled all the way from Calgary for this race. She was smokin’ fast. Fastest female by far that had ever raced a Mad Trapper race.
Post-race was as awesome as ever, and we all got more than our fill of Chili, chips, fruit, soup, cookies, etc. Yup, as always, pretty much the best reason to do these races. Fight fight fight for over an hour, than load up on junky food. Delicious. Only one race left this season, coming up fast this weekend. It’s another 2-loop course, starting with the hilly loop first, followed by the flat loop. Given recent conditions, I can only assume this one well also be a fast race. After it was all said and done, it was time for me to pack up and head home to get ready for the poker night in Embrun.
After a successful race, I was all primed to unwind for the night. I’d convinced Matt that we should leave early, and head to Beau’s Brewery to pick up some fresh beer for the night. We were planning on spending the night, as there was no way either of us would be up for the drive home later. Also, we don’t get to see Adam very often, and he has a PS3 with both Rock Band and Guitar Hero World Tour, so there would be lots of virtual rocking out throughout the night. It also turned out that he has an air hockey table in his basement. What could be more fun for a boy’s night?
In the end, there were 11 players that night, a mix of my friends, and Adam’s co-workers. Fun bunch of guys, and we started with a smaller game with the early arrivals, followed by a 2-table tournament later in the night. Would you believe it, I ended up winning the big game, and coming in 3rd for the smaller game. Granted, I wasn’t made rich by either, but it paid for all my drinks, food, and gas. Nothing wrong with a break-even weekend full of fun! It was good to see some of the guys again, and hopefully we’ll have another poker night soon. Winter is definitely the best time for Poker. Rounding out the top 3 in the big game were Dave in 2nd, and Matt in 3rd. Smiles all around. Matt and I were the only ones that stayed overnight, but Dave and Kev stayed pretty damn late as well. I think the final timestamp on my pictures was after 3am, and they were still there a bit longer after that. The only person we were missing for the night was Rob. Too bad you missed that one buddy 🙂
Okay, it’s still not my shortest post ever, but believe me, I could have gone into MUCH greater detail on both the race and the poker, but I’m pretty sure everyone gets the idea 🙂 Stay tuned for another exciting tale once I find the time to write up about the adventure race. Till then, stay warm, and stay active. Spring is just around the bend, so it’s time for a tune-up.