Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Kingman Farm and Horsehill Races

The weekend doubleheader returned... I was able to get through 2 more Granite State Snowshoe Series races this weekend despite having a few miserable weeks of training (or lack there of) leading up.

On Saturday NIGHT I headed down to Madbury, NH for the Kingman Farm Moonlight Snowshoe Race (results) put on by acidoticRacing and Petzel.  It's a very unique event as it's obviously at night, and it requires the use of a headlamp as the entire course is in the woods with zero lights other than the moonlight (on a clear night, which it was not).  I've done the race a couple times before, winning back in 2009 (skipping in 2010 due to it being a trail race with no snow) and then coming in 2nd in 2011 to Kevin Tilton by a measly 2 seconds.  Last year it was cancelled due to no snow.

I warmed up on the roads w/ DD while it was still light out and felt ok.  I was about to basically just hit the line w/ little preparation, zero quality training, and just hopefully go off of pure stubbornness and muscle memory.... As the gun went off (actually I don't think I've ever had a 'gun' go off at the start of a snowshoe race, but you know what I mean)... I tried to move out into my normal immediate lead but quickly realized I wasn't going to be pulling away in this one. I immediately felt pretty crappy and slow. I also became very quickly aware that my hamstring was getting very tight and sore.  3 minutes in and my hamstring was locked up...great.  I actually though during the first mile that this could be my first snowshoe DNF.  I continued to try to push through it and stretch it out as best I can while still running.

The first part of the race is pretty flat and twisty through some double-wide and then single track.  Running in the dark with only a headlamp to light up the immediate few feet in front is a strange feeling.  Racing is even stranger.  Turning to look only to see lamps behind and not actual runners is the strangest feeling of all.  You can't really accurately gauge how far you are ahead of people when racing at night like that in the pitch dark.  I was pretty keenly aware however that I was not too far ahead of 2nd place for most of the race.

I hit the field, which is probably my favorite section because you can look back and see all the lights weaving through the zig zag of track that was blazed haphazardly by the RD and volunteers earlier in the day.  There was no rhyme or reason to where the course goes here, it just meanders.  You just have to keep looking for the flags periodically and try to stay in the footprints as they wind back and forth across the open field and then along the perimeter and back out into the woods.

As I hit the woods again, I had an ok lead but it was still too close for comfort.  There is a steady climb up and then up and across some switchbacks until you get up to the top of the ridge.  I maintained my lead here but could still see that pesky 2nd place seemingly only a switchback behind.  On my way down the ridge, I just hoped and prayed my leg would hold up.  It did fortunately, and I was able to hold off a charging Bob Jackman (who I didn't know was 2nd until he came across the line less than a minute after I finished).  Good to see Bob return to form after his dog-mauling incident back in 2009 on the same course.  I was vulnerable here, but held off to get the win.

Video of the start below courtesy of Gianina Lindsey

Top 10 Overall:

Place Name Age Town, State Team Time Pace
1 Jim Johnson        35 Madison NH BAA                     23:40 7:24
2 Robert Jackman     30 Warwick RI Tuesday Night Turtles   24:31 7:40
3 Ryan Welts         32 Northwood NH acidotic RACING         25:20 7:55
4 Dave Dunham        48 Haverhill MA CMS                     25:37 8:01
5 David Principe     46 Johnston RI Tuesday Night Turtles   26:25 8:16
6 David Principe Jr  14 Johnston RI Tuesday Night Turtles   26:42 8:21
7 Scott Mitchell     43 New Durham NH acidotic RACING         26:55 8:25
8 Jason Massa        45 Concord NH acidotic RACING         27:15 8:31
9 Phil Erwin         45 Ridge NY acidotic RACING         27:18 8:32
10 Christopher Smith  47 Woburn MA Dungeon Rock Racing     27:31 8:36

108 Total Finishers.

After the race I cooled down just a little bit on the road as my hamstring was really sore and I didn't want to overdo it in hopes of running Horsehill in the AM.  I headed back inside for the awards ceremony at which I won a new Petzel headlamp.  Pretty cool stuff.  Oh yeah, they also had gigantic burritos for the post-race meal!  I must admit I downed one during the raffle/awards and another on the way home... Always good times at the GSSS races.

Then on Sunday I woke up to a snowy early morning and headed 2 hours southwest to Merrimack, NH to run in my 4th Horsehill Snowshoe Race (results) (out of 5 years).  I won this race in 2009, 2010, and 2011.  Last year (2012) I didn't go due to injury and horrible weather (raining) so KT was able to shoot down there and interrupt my dynasty.  This year I decided to give it another go and showed up to a rather small crowd of just under 50.  The weather was cold, windy, and snowy.

After a long, slow ride I arrived to get one of the last parking spots in a very small lot at the beginning of the trail into Horsehill.  After registering I headed out to do part of the course as a warmup.  I had spent the previous 2 hours in the car, massaging my hamstring and sitting on a heating pad to try to loosen up the leg.  It felt 'OK' during the warmup.  Definitely better than the previous night.  I ran the first part of the course (which I was very familiar with) and the last part (which was also in play in previous years' versions of this course).  The middle part of the course I didn't go over but found out from Mike Amarello and others that it was a new mountain bike trail and was fairly loose and rough.

As the race started off (on the long, straight access road into the reservation), I moved out to what I felt was a relatively conservative start, but no one was coming with me.  A couple years ago I had to run a sub 15 second first 100 to even get position on Judson Cake.  This year, it was all me early.

Photo by Gianina Lindsey

Photo by Gianina Lindsey
I ran well within myself during the first section which includes a pretty steep climb, but it's relatively short.  The footing was very solid and seemingly faster than the night before.  As I hit the single track switchbacks on the way down the ridge, I appeared to be building my lead with what really seemed to be not much effort on my part other than having gravity pull me down the hill.  I kept thinking in the back of my mind that there was another climb near the end and I had to hold back a I really kept it in check and just went through the motions on the single track.  That section was LONG. Then, it seemed we dumped out on some snowmobile trail again for a bit before hitting even more single track (I believe the mountain bike trail).  Again, I didn't kill it in this section, trying to 'save it' for the later climb I thought was coming.  I could see a battle going on with Ryan and Dave behind me, through the single track, but due to the daylight, I could actually figure out how far back they were and knew my lead was OK.

Photo by Gianina Lindsey
Finally I dumped out of the single track and back to the snowmobile trail that led out of the reservation and knew I was within the last mile after I saw the sign for the main road.  I suddenly realized that last killer climb I though existed, really didn't.  There WAS a slight climb up the snowmobile trail before a last downhill section before the main road in, but it wasn't anywhere near as bad as I remembered. I motored on down the last section and out of the park to the finish in about the same pace I did the race in the previous night... no leg issues sickly feeling...a little larger margin of victory...I'll take it.

After the race I indulged in some more Kale soup from RD Mike Amarello and his family and did a short cooldown with Ryan Welts on the same loops I warmed up on.

Then it was 2+ hours of a slow slog north...snow, wind, slow drivers, stiff legs, and nothing to drink (I almost died of thirst on the way home)... Got home to no power due to the wind knocking something into the power lines right outside our house.  It was down for an hour or so after I got back, which just delayed my ability to take a shower and warm up.. All in all a good weekend of racing for me with one more Granite State Snowshoe Series (unofficially) wrapped up.  With my 5 wins this year (because of the cancellation of Exeter, it's best 4 of 6 instead of 5 of 7), so I already have enough to secure the overall title.  The great thing about that is the fact that each year I win the series, I get free entry into the races the next year!  So far, this makes 5 years in a row now... hope to squeak some more in before some younger, faster guys realize how fun the races are and decide to give me a run!

View full photo set from race here

Top 10 Overall:

PlaceNameAgeTown, StateTeamTimePace
1Jim Johnson    35Madison NH   BAA UNICORNS          27:357:25
2Dave Dunham    48Bradford MA  CMS POLAR BEARS       29:207:54
3Ryan Welts     32Northwood NH ACIDOTIC RACING       29:267:55
4Ryan Proulx    33Portsmouth NH                      31:158:25
5Chris Dunn     44Strafford NH ACIDOTIC RACING       32:148:40
6Scott Mitchell 43New Durham NHACIDOTIC RACING       32:248:43
7Phil Erwin     45Ridge NY     ACIDOTIC RACING       32:268:44
8Kristina Folcik35Northwood NH ACIDOTIC RACING       33:479:05
9Chuck Hazzard  52Freeport ME  TRAIL MONSTER RUNNING 34:069:10
10David Hamilton 29Haverhill MA ACIDOTIC RACING       34:089:11

49 Total Finishers.

Cooling down with Ryan (AKA Kristina's Fiance) - Photo by Gianina Lindsey

1 comment:

  1. Next year I'll try to give you a run for the series title! Nice job on the back to back wins.