It’s Cold… Let’s Race!

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Brrrr.. It sure was cold out there this weekend! To enjoy the cold weather just a little more, I had to take part in my third race in as many weeks. Yes, it was time for the second race in the 2007 Mad Trapper showshoe racing season. To make it extra fun, it was the dreaded ‘Hilly’ course. Two laps each consisting of 5 kilometers of hills, hills, and more hills. Luckily, with every up there comes a down, as you can see by the picture at the right. I’m a big fan of running downhill, not so much of running uphill. Of course, given the terrain, I didn’t really have much of a choice. Also sadly for me, I was having an off day. I’ve already accepted that, so to save you any great suspense… I didn’t win 🙁 In fact, I only came in 14th place. I believe that’s my worst finish yet in a Mad Trapper race. So, let’s go back to the start of the day and review the events of the day, shall we?

Well, for starters, a lot of weight has been lifted from my shoulders in the past couple days, so I was definitely in high spirits. Friday was the last day that I was working 2 jobs, plus, I’d just finished negotiations around the details of two separate job offers that I have in hand. All this meant that I knew I had some great options ahead of me, and could focus on my training and getting my leg healed, instead of uncertainty and extra work! The past week has been very much training-free, resulting from working way too much, and recovery from last weeks’ race. I wasn’t going to let that bother me though, I felt happy, and figured my feet would guide me swiftly along the trails. So, how did all that work out for me? Read on, humble blog-watcher.

I rested up Friday night, resisting the urge to go out partying or staying up late. Instead, Jody headed out to girls’ poker night, and I stayed home, cleaning the fish tank, doing the dishes, and getting my gear ready. Dawn broke on Saturday morning cold and clear. Good conditions for a run through the woods. I left the house around 8:30am, hoping to get to the Ark early enough to maybe score some lighter racing snowshoes. Sadly, that wasn’t to be, so I yet again raced in my Atlas 1025’s. Great snowshoes, but a tad heavy when compared to the equipment my co-racers would be wearing. Oh well, it makes for a better training day, doesn’t it? The race looked like it would boast the biggest male starting field than it had in races past. My competition would be pretty tough. Not only that, but all the big shots were out, and racing. To me, it seemed a perfect storm of talent was aligned to crush me 😉

I lined up at the front with Ryan, James, Mike and the other front runners. On ‘Go’, I stayed with the front group right off the bat. My plan was similar to James’ modus operandi. Keep up with the front guys and hold on for dear life. Well, I underestimated their speed. The front 7 or so were keeping up an extraordinary pace. Before too long (a few of the early hills I guess), I could feel the energy already start to drain from my legs. This was definitely not good! I had started my heart rate monitor, but it was under my jacket, so I’m not sure how hard I was pushing. I held on as best I could, but the tank really was almost empty right from the get go. I’m not totally sure why or how, but I could see it would be a tough race for me. A number of other racers passed by me on the way around the first loop. All I could do was just keep pushing hard.

Somewhere around the end of lap 1, I started ‘chugging’ as much of my carb-boom that I could. My body was totally sapped, and I knew I wasn’t even half-way there. I spotted Pete behind me and decided that the least I could do was stave him off, not letting him get past me. I didn’t want to lose a single other spot in the finish order. It was a bit maddening. I guess the lack of training in the past few weeks, the last two races, and the beginnings of a cold had finally caught up to me. I had planned to take a quick stop at the halfway point for a glass of water, but I was too fired up, and just kept right on going.

The second lap for me was just a race of attrition. I was talking to myself the entire way. Power of positive thinking kind of thing. Each flat section I’d will my ‘spinning’ legs to take over. On the hills, I’d drop into ‘granny’ and just chug up the hill with short steps. The downhills were where I would propel myself as hard and fast as safely possible. The only way to hold on to my spot would be to use those downhills. I kept glancing over my shoulder, and even when I saw no-one, I’d tell myself they were right on my heels. At one point, I thought I may even get a negative split. My first lap was wrapped up in 42 minutes. At the end of lap two, it looked like I clocked in at almost 44 minutes. Not bad, all things considered I’d say. Ironically, my predicted time was 1:24, and I came in at 1:25:58. Pretty close. Of course, the winner was done in 1:04! Way to go Ryan.

When all the snow had cleared, I think I finished off in 14th place overall, and 12th in the male category. The other unfortunate thing is that Mike compiled his results before putting in all the data, so he accidentally wiped everyone’s times. Glad I had my timer on, so I can at least see how I stacked up against my time last year. In reviewing the 2006 info, I shouldn’t be too sad. On the exact same course last year, it took me 1:40! So, although I did worse than I wanted standing-wise, I shaved 14 minutes off my time. I guess it really was a case of having a stronger field out today. That lifts my spirits as I write this!

As usual, the race was followed by a great feast of Chili, chips, cookies, drinks, etc. A lot of people stuck around, and I had a chance to catch up with a number of other adventure racers and talk about plans for the year. A good time as always. Of course, warming up by the stove was also quite handy 😉 There were a good deal of prizes to be given away as usual, and although I didn’t win for any great reason, I still managed to ‘walk’ away with a new pair of Wright Sox. The Atlas Rep was kind enough to show me the latest advances in their Snowshoes, including a sneak peak at next year’s Series 12 shoes, with a new, easier binding system. Sweet stuff.

Now if only I could get some race shoes for the next and final race of 2007. I fear my chances of placing in the series this year are slim, but at least I’m getting out there and having a great time! As usual, the race was totally worth the 50 minute drive from my place, and I’d like to yet again thank Mike and Monique for having us out 😉 If you’re interested, you can check out some of the shots that Sophia was nice enough to take for me today in my folder on flickr. Well, that’s it for racing for a few weeks. See you out on the training trails, and hopefully at the next race too!

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