Snowshoe Double Header: Exeter and Back 9 Race Recaps
I'm not sure I've ever done a race double header-back to back races in the same weekend. Snowshoe races are probably the best to double up on: you don't get quite the same impact as a road race and so your recovery is quicker. On Saturday I raced hard at the Exeter Snowshoe Hullabaloo-a Granite State Snowshoe series race, which counts in the overall series standings. I wasn't sure who else would show up in terms of competitive women, I knew Leslie O'dell (who was last year's series winner) would be there, but wondered if there'd be anyone competing for second.
We couldn't have asked for a better day, it was mid-40's at the start and we have such a great base of snow thanks to all the storms last week. I ran my warm up and then headed to the start with everyone else and noticed a group of high school cross country runners getting ready for the race. I chatted with their coach for a little while who recognized me and said hello. She let me know that one of her girls was a real ringer.
I knew I'd probably have to work hard for a solid finish. I lined up in the front behind a few guys, Leslie and the high school runner. The course was nicely packed single track with pretty good passing lanes and lots of little hills. We started fast and wound through the woods in a figure-eight pattern. I kept a strong pace through the first mile and then at about a mile and a quarter made a move and passed a group of people, including the high school runner who had been second female. I pulled away with another teammate from Six03Endurance, who encouraged me the whole run-letting me know about how much distance I had on the runner behind me.
The whole race I felt like I was red-lining: running max effort and trying my best to recovery on the downhills, while still sprinting the downhills. The track coach for the Rochester Runner's told me a while ago, to take a deep breath every 800m or so during a hard effort race (like a 5K) and I did my best to do that. When I felt myself getting out of breath, I'd try to breath deep with a big, diaphragmatic breath-expanding my belly to fill my lungs with air. It kept me going and running hard. With about a mile left my teammate let me know that the girl I had passed was closing in, I pushed the pace a little harder to give myself more distance. The funny thing with snowshoe races is the you never really know how far the race is going to be. I knew it was somewhere between 3 and 4 miles, but exactly where I didn't know. As I closed in on the 3 mile mark, I wondered how much longer I could hang on to such a hard effort. I was dying! But I certainly didn't want to let anyone pass me in the final mile.
As I crested the final hill, I saw the clearing where the start was and with the end in sight I was able to increase my effort a bit more and sprint in to finish the second female overall. So far this year I haven't felt like I've raced really hard-I mean I've given good efforts, but not like the effort I gave on Saturday: all out, all I've got. I feel really proud of that effort and the fact that I took second place.
Back 9 Snowshoe Race
I followed up Saturday's race with another race on Sunday morning. I went in feeling relaxed, this run was just for fun since it didn't count in the Granite State Snowshoe Series standings. We packed up the whole family Sunday morning and headed to the Six03Endurance Back 9 snowshoe race at the Rochester Country Club. The course elevation showed over 500ft in elevation gain in just 3 miles-I knew this was going to be a tough one.
My legs felt surprisingly fresh. I thought my quads would be sore from hammering the downhills on Saturday, but they felt perfectly fine. I wore compression pants all day after the race on Saturday, drank my recovery drink immediately after the race (Collagen powder and Vega Recovery accelerator) and had a couple glasses of tart cherry juice.
My goal for the race was to have fun, get in a good workout and run as hard as I could given my effort from the day before. It was a small race and I went out with the lead group and stuck with them. A lot of runners who ran Saturday also ran the race on Sunday, many of us were taking it "easy."
The course looped around the edge of the golf course, doubling back on itself right before the finish and then coming in to a finish line on the top of a snowbank-Embrace the Hill right?! I finished first female and walked away with the Golden Shovel and some of the best beer I've had in a while (SmuttLabs The Stallion-a stout aged in red win barrels...it was delicious).
The kids had a great time play, sledding and throwing snowballs with Angela's (HappyFitMama) kiddos, who were there to cheer her on as she raced. It was great to see her!
We stuck around after the race for beers and food, which was the perfect way to finish the weekend!
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