Sunday, February 14, 2010

Frosty's Dash

Sunday was day 2 of the weekend double and brought me a short 10 minutes down the road to Atkinson Country Club in Atkinson, NH for the 6th race in the (believe it or not) Granite State Snowshoe Series.  Frosty's Dash (results), as you can see from the photos of the course, was re-tooled to be a road race this year, and believe it or not, it wasn't half bad.

snowshoe season in NH has hit the fan in recent weeks and this was just the latest in a string of victims, thanks to El Nino.  Was that portly lunatic Al Gore right about something?  Maybe...but probably not.  I won this race last year, in what was a horrifically slow slog through deep, wet snow on a very mild day.  This year, because there is essentially no snow left on the upper part of the course, where the race actually is, they labelled this as a 'road' race, and therefor it would only count for half of the GSSS individual points. Half points will do me no good with a 'best of 4' scoring system, unless the first dozen or so guys in the standings now, don't get 4 races in...but I didn't do this race to get points for the series...I would have done it even if there were no points on the line for GSSS.  I decided to go and support the race organizers (and I had a free entry from winning the series last year, and it is just down the street from my house, so it was hard to pass on).

The course was actually a mix of paved road, some gravel/dirt road sections, and some paved cart paths.  I warmed up over the course and misjudged the very first section, which left out a major loop.  Therefore it only took me about 18:30 to jog the course ahead of time.  I figured it was way short, but that was ok because I was feeling a bit tight from the 5 miler the day before.  The weather was relatively decent, with some wind, but comfortable temps.  Had there been no wind, it would have been pretty nice out actually.

I changed into my trusty Inov-8 f-lite 230s for only the second time this year, and headed over to the start.  As the race was about to start, I heard the race director talking about the first part of the course and pointing down a direction I hadn't gone in the warmup.  I immediately began to worry about the direction and layout of the course.  The start was a tad on the confusing side, as there was really no signs or cones in the first stretch of the race.  The rest of the course was laid out with bright orange cones and was relatively easy to follow.

As the gun went off, a group of about 7 or 8 young kids went out in front of me and immediately came to a halt when the first hard left was supposed to happen (about 20 yards into the race).  I actually ran into two of them and had to lightly push one aside to go around him.  Then I was wondering for about 10 seconds, if I was going the right way.  I immediately knew I'd have to do this one alone and hoped the course was well marked beyond where I could see.  The initial section was paved road that wound down to the right and then eventually hooked up onto a gravel road area and then to cart path.  I followed the cart path up a small climb and that loops around back to the main road on an unpaved section of wet rock/dirt.  Once back onto the main road, it winds down the street and then up to the right and up what is the steepest section of the course (pictured above). You then hop onto another cart path and wind up and over to the otherside of the driving range and back along the main road, but staying on the cart path the whole way down and out of the country club.

As I made my way down the cart path, I just relaxed and opened it up a bit and enjoyed the run.  I felt pretty good, but wasn't being pushed at all, so I found it a little hard to focus on blasting a fast time and just thought about how nice it would have been to snowshoe today.  There is one cool wooden bridge you cross over, along the cart path, and then the path goes up across a maintenance facility area, where a worker who was walking across the parking lot looked at me and said 'did the race officially start yet'... to which I replied 'yep, about 9 minutes and 10 seconds ago'.  I continued to jam along and reached the turn around at the entrance, that hopped back onto the main road.  It was then simply back along the side of the main road, up to the country club again...but this time it was smack dab in the face of a crazy headwind that took the steam right out of any serious pace I had.  It was the strongest headwind I have run against in quite a while, and it was for the entire last mile.  There is a decent, steady incline back up and over to the clubhouse and along the parking area, before finishing down a slight hill and back into the rear of the building and to the finish.

I came through in 15:29, which surely indicated (especially with the insane headwind) that the course was a tad short.  I was thinking 3 miles and after talking with a few of the guys who had GPS data at the finish, it looked like it was even shorter than that.  The consensus was 2.9ish and I believe that is what Mike Amarello timed it as (officially).  I think I would have easily been under 15 had it not been for the wind in my grill for the last 6 minutes.  No mile markers on this course, so no splits to speak of.  If I had a GPS, I would have this type of information, but I am still living in the early 2000s I guess.

All in all, it was a pretty fun race, not a bad course at all, and a good workout for me to get in.  I'm pleased with the weekend, even though I may have let one slip on Saturday, and there was no snowshoeing to be done on Sunday... I do wish the course had been a true 5k, but alas it's tough to have to whip up a new course at zero hour, when mother nature doesn't produce.  It was also good not to have to travel more than 10 minutes, either day this weekend, to the races.  These are two of the closest races to my house, which made it all a bit easier to take.  I also got to talk to some nice folks today from various other clubs, who were all out to support the cause today.  I won a pretty sweet winter jacket that I gave to Kristin for her Valentine's day gift (a timely acquisition I must say ;) )...

Lastly, speaking of the lovely and talented Kristin, she surprised me today with some baked goodies, strategically laid out for me at home!


  1. you and i both need forerunners - - good to see you yesterday - saturday will be a long one but it looks like some snow is coming :)

  2. If you need help demolishing those cupcakes, let me know.