Sunday, January 3, 2010

Beaver Brook '4.5k' Snowshoe Race

Saturday was the first race of the Granite State Snowshoe Series and took me over to Hollis, NH and back to Beaver Brook to run in the Beaver Brook Snowshoe Race (results), which is advertised as a 5k, but we all know it is a tad short (more towards 4.5 k , which is what the official results are calling it).  I ran this course a few weeks ago in the first snowshoe
race of the season and the conditions were far better this time around.  (Caution: 'Sandbagging' ahead)... After the Chip Chase 5k the day before (Friday), my legs, foot, and back were trash.  I felt almost as bad as I did after a mountain race... As I write this, I am laying here feeling like I played a few games of hockey back to back to back.  I think it was due to the downhill on the course and also the fact that it was my first road 5k in quite a while.  Needless to say I wasn't feeling it and went to bed the night before, with doubts that I'd be able to race a double.  I even told DD not to pick me up, as I figured I'd make a game-time decision when I woke up.  When I woke up in the morning, I was no better, but I did get a good night sleep (which I did not get on New Years Eve).  On NYE, I got about 2 hours of sleep for some reason, but still managed to get out to do the Chip Chase 5k on New Years Day.  I figured that would catch up to me on Friday night, so I took a sleep aid and conked out at about 11:30pm.  I woke up at 8:30am and felt a little tired, but not too bad.  My foot, back, and legs were still wrecked but I decided to give it a go at pretty much the last minute, and headed out solo at about 9:30am.

I was a relatively late arrival but still beat DD into the parking lot.  I pulled up next to Scotty Graham and immediately started getting flack from all sides. Scotty's 'rapist-wit' was in full effect and he was really giving it to me.  DD pulled in not too long after and we headed out on the snow covered roads for a couple miles of warmup and we both talked about being a little beat up. Dave's ankle had been bothering him from the day before (running the 4 miler in Salem, MA) and I had 4 or 5 complaints of my own.  This is a key strategy for both of us, and part of our actual warmup (where we talk about how bad we are going to race and how much different things hurt).  It works. :)   After taking a pretty nasty spill on the ice, Dave led me back to the parking lot where we changed into the snowshoes and headed over to the field for some last minute strides.  Once again, I forgot to pin on my freakin' number (this has started to happen A LOT lately) and left it in the car, but it didn't matter.  When I came across the finish line, I just grabbed it out of my car and showed the timers.  Good thing this is a snowshoe race....I probably would have been DQ'd (disqualified, not 'Dave Quintalled') if this was a road race.

Before the race started, I chatted a bit with new CMS teammate Tim Cox (who races for snowshoe powerhouse acidotic Racing in the winter) and a few other guys including Rhode Island's Bob Jackman (TNT) and Steve Wolfe (acidotic) who had joined me the day before, out in Temple, NH at the Peanut Butter Chip Chase 5k.  Everyone was anxious to get started and it was turning out to be a classic snowshoe start, with light snow falling, and thick snow blanketing the field and all the woods at Beaver Brook.

As the race went off, I immediately (and maybe a little too closely) cut in front of Tim Cox (sorry Tim) and took the early lead after only a couple strides.  I wasn't going to screw around early, as I knew that Tim had been at the track already this year and he was ready to go. Bob Jackman also has been running strong and DD is always a force on snowshoes.  There were also a load of other guys there that are always close, like Wolfey, Matt Westerlund, Chris Dunn, Chris Smith, and Dan Ferreira.  The field was pretty strong up front, that was for certain...the course was relatively flat, and it was definitely fast.  I knew it wouldn't be playing into DD's favor (as he obviously prefers longer races and steep climbs), but Tim and Bob were going to give me a good run and they did.

I was first up to the sharp turn off of the opening field and onto the 10+ foot wide trail that would be the rest of the course.  There was a decent track blazed on the trail and I was able to settle in and cruise down the first quarter mile or so which is all downhill.  Tim stayed right behind me for most of the way out to the turnaround and I thought at a couple points that he wanted to go around me and I was ready to let him go.  I felt tired and my legs were pretty tight from top to bottom.  I felt like I was holding him up and checked with him to see if he wanted me to move aside.  He commented that he was just trying to hang on (which I was also doing) and we just kept chugging along in that order.  Shortly before the turnround, I had put a little bit of distance on Tim and I got to see that I had a few second lead on him at that point.  As you hit the turnaround, you obviously start to go back against the racers who are still on their way to the edge of Beaver Brook.  Bob Jackman was not that far back, and DD was in view in 4th.  I kept pace and felt surprisingly OK, except for a little tightness.  My PF wasn't bothering me at this point and as I hit the last climb, I had pretty much passed the entire field as they were on their way out.  There were only a few walkers on the last part of the course as I started the climb up to the finish.  I looked back and really couldn't see Tim anymore and knew I just had to work this last hill (about a quarter mile or so climb) up to the finish.  Before I knew it, I was up within view of the finish line and could see the clock ticking in the high 14:00s.  I was shocked at how much faster I ran this course than 3 weeks ago.  I came up and through in 15:48 (I had run 17:13 back on 12/13 over the same course).  This time through, the snow was fluffy on top and packed at the bottom, due to shoers and skiers out there this winter.  Back in December, the snow was frozen and had been post-holed pretty bad by runners/walkers.  Much faster conditions and a faster/deeper field, led to a 1:25 PR on this course this time around.  Overall I was definitely pleased with the race and was very surprised that my body allowed me to put in the work.  I need to take it easy over the next couple days to get ready for the next showdown with DD out in western Mass!  He's officially challenged me, but I really should be worried about this raw-foodist guy I know up in south-western Vermont who has been running crazy fast lately!

Top 10 (CMS in blue) out of 90

115:48Jim Johnson      32Salem NH     CMS POLAR BEARS          
216:24Tim Cox          36Northwood NH ACIDOTIC RACING/CMS       
316:43Robert Jackman27Warwick RITUESDAY NIGHT TURTLES 
417:10Dave Dunham      45Ward Hill MA CMS POLAR BEARS       
517:22Steve Wolfe   45Merrimack NHACIDOTIC RACING       
617:34Matt Westerlund37Laconia NY                      
717:40Chris Dunn    41Strafford NHACIDOTIC RACING       
818:12Danny Ferreira27Concord NHACIDOTIC RACING       
918:21Sean Snow     43Dunbarton NHGRANITE STATE RACING TEAM
1018:43Christopher Smith43Woburn MA DUNGEON ROCK RACING   

Video Below from 3CRaceProductions

Scott Mason made the trip up with Bob and his wife and took some great photos once again (all photos used in this post, courtesy of Scott Mason). He actually got injured at an indoor track meet and wasn't running.  He didn't get injured racing however... He hurt himself taking photos!  Seriously!  Ask him about it ;).   Hopefully he'll be back in action soon.

Scott Mason's Photoset

Steve Wolfe's Race Writeup
Chris Dunn's Race Writeup
Scott Graham's Race Writeup

Next up is Turner Trail out in Pittsfield, MA on Jan 9th (Saturday).  That is race 2 in the WMAC/Dion snowshoe series.  The GSSS has the week off, but there IS a snowshoe race in Salem, MA (yes, Salem, MA). It is not officially part of the Granite State Snowshoe Series, but it will be awarding team points to the series teams.  I wish this race was on Sunday (or Turner was on Sunday) so I could do them both...but alas, I am sticking to series races and since the Salem race doesn't count for individual GSSS points, I am heading out to Pittsfield w/ DD and hopefully some other CMS folk who are looking for a relatively challenging and long course in Pittsfield State Forest.

Happy New Year to all!


  1. Jim, good seeing you again. Nice write-up and photos. I hope your injuries improve even if it means you have nothing to talk about on your warmups with DD.

  2. Wow - you are really getting after it again. After reading about that cookie race yesterday and how you were tightening up, I was pretty certain you'd need a couple of days to get back at it. Instead you run this race bandit (no number). Great shots Scotty.

  3. 2 days into the year and you've got at many wins as I had all last year!!!

  4. Great effort yesterday. Is there anyone out there who can beat you? You are a great ambassador for the sport of snowshoe racing. It's not just that you win, but it's how you win. And more importantly, it's how you relate to matter where they finish.

  5. Super job JJ. Just imagine the time you would have run if Tivo was there pushing you.

    Keep it rolling buddy.

    BTW what is this "rapist-wit" stuff. I just call them the way I see them. :O

  6. Shouldn't that be Rapier-like wit?

  7. Thanks Dan.

    GZ, your shoes should be back from the gold-plater this week.

    Bob, you'll put up a huge 5k PR this year for sure after seeing what your mile debut was all about...great stuff.

    Chris, thanks for the kind words man...I appreciate it. You are running the best series out there...keep up the great work! There are a dozen or so guys on any given day...I've been very lucky so far...this weekend will probably be interesting for sure... Anyone on the usual top 10 plus a few more are all capable of the W...

    Scotty, Tim was pushing me pretty hard... Just keep showing up 3 hours early to races and you'll have an undefeated season :)

    Scott, get your butt back in gear! We LOVE having you at the events taking your phenomenal shots, but it's always more fun when you're in the race with us.

  8. You should have sent the shoes to the LEAD plater.