January Freeze / Thaw
Updated: The week of Jan 9 - 15 was on the up and up. My back issue(s) sorted out and I felt better as I incorporated nordic and some backcountry skiing into my week. It's a reminder that I need to keep up on basic strength training to prevent these types of injuries.
Snowshoe running fell off my map as soon as I realized that backcountry skiing was going to take up most of my weekends (or SkiMo racing). I really enjoyed the races and the hard efforts, something that you don't often experience in the backcountry. Looking at this year's schedule, this was the only race that really fit (maybe Kingman Farm if that happens) so I wanted to make it, especially since it's local.
I decided to take some time off from running to let me knees recover so although I was plenty fit for the race, I had lost the top end of my run fitness, which took the pressure of to run "fast". I was also coming off a back injury and just wanted to enjoy a hard effort without additional pain. It was a typical COLD January morning. Fortunately the race doesn't start until 10am. I was still freezing during my warm up and I was definitely concerned about my hands / feet. After a short warm up I headed to the start. I saw Nacho was racing so that took care of first place, but I didn't really know anyone else who was racing. Then Kevin Tilton toed the line - a nice surprise to see the RD race his own race. My goal was to try to get the holeshot just to get in the photos but I was outgunned by Nacho and settled back into a realistic pace. A lead pack of five of us broke off on the first real climb, with Nacho out of site to race his own race. The climbs were steady and the snow was FAST - cold / hardpack - and the offtrack sections were equally as fast. We began our second climb and were trading the lead which made for a really fun race. We weren't pushing too hard and I could tell that whoever had any kick would take the remaining podium spots. Heading down the power line section, Nacho was just a speck in the distant straightaway then turned into the woods. We pushed the downhill and headed back into the the wooded single track. I think I was back in the lead at this point but as soon as we popped back out on the groomers I was passed and gapped by 10 seconds by two guys. I tried to close it but it wasn't happening. Now I was fighting for 4th with Brandon Newbould. I had no idea this was Brandon until well after the race - he's a very fast road and trail runner. But he was also out of gas and slowly faded back. There wasn't much excitement in the lap around the ball field before the finish, the order was settled and I was happy with the race and my placing among great runners.
My body felt good and it makes me want to race more. The time off has been worth it and I can't wait to start running again in February. Shout out to Tom Hooper for the SIX03 kit as well as a great after party at the Tuckerman Brewery.