Saturday, January 17, 2015

January 17 (Saturday) - Whitaker Woods

January 17 (Saturday) - 4 mile w/up (2 miles on the roads of North Conway Village and then 2 miles on snowshoes before the race (route) ).   Then 3.9 mile snowshoe race - Whitaker Woods Snowshoe Scramble (2nd OA).  Then 4.2 mile cooldown (route) on the roads near Cranmore with Nacho Hernando.   12.1 miles total.

With about 109 or so strong (I believe the largest Whitaker field ever?...results aren't done yet though so I'm not sure) we were off for the approx. 4 mile course on a 0 degree morning.  It was COLD out there (as it seemingly is every year at Whitaker).  My hands were pretty much numb right away.   Nacho Hernando (I feel the need to call out he's like 15 or so years my junior) who was NH runner of the year last year with 30 or so WINS on the calendar year, was off pretty quick and I was right with him  until we hit the first small incline about a quarter mile into the race.  Then he gapped me just a bit and that was basically it.  I could stop the write up at this point and tell you that from that point on, it was basically just more of the same...

After he pulled away just a bit on the small climb, I did manage to almost catch back up before the big long ascent (the largest climb on the course).  But as the climb grew on, Nacho's lead also grew a bit.  I went through the first mile, during the climb, in 6:33.  That was 12 seconds faster than last year, so it was definitely an improvement although I had already lost the race.  Nacho pulled slightly away (a few seconds tops) over the next climb after we dropped down to the hill we run in the Summer Series.  By the power lines, his lead was 25-30 seconds and there it would stay.  
I hit my second mile in 6:56, which is about 6 seconds faster than last year.   I didn't see anyone lurking behind me after a few peeks, but I knew Andy and Sam and Eric were back there for sure.  There was also a couple of dudes that showed up with Nacho (I believe former teammates of his at NHTI).  So anything was possible.  

The third mile was roughly the same as last year as well and I hit that 21 seconds faster but that was probably because the single track was in better shape (I can't really remember last year's section in that single track).  This year it was packed pretty well.  I was basically holding my 30 second deficit here and doing nothing else but trying to occasionally blow feeling back into my hands and fingers.

By the fourth mile, I could still see Nacho up ahead but wasn't gaining or losing at all. He was probably in cruise control as you can see by all the photos Joe took (Photos by Joe Viger).  Nacho is smiling in all of them.  I would be too if I was winning that easily.

In the end, I rolled through in 25:19/25:20.  About 30 seconds (give or take) behind Nacho.  Andy Drummond who is always lurking right there, wasn't that far behind me in 3rd and Sam Wood was a strong 4th place just ahead of Eric Narcisi in 5th.  3 CMS guys in the top 5.  Not too shabby.  

Overall, I am happy with the race.  I wasn't competitive at all, which is hard to take.  I didn't give Nacho any fight at all and ran solo in 2nd the entire race.  But I wasn't worse than last year.  In fact, I was slightly better (6:30 pace overall with those couple climbs and single track sections is pretty good).  At this point in the year, I'll take it.  I have to keep telling myself it's only January.  I've been doing pretty much just mileage (mostly slow on the treadmill with no incline).  Near zero workouts or races in 2 months and more noticeably, ZERO hill running for the most part.  That was very apparent by my awful hill running at Whitaker.  That was the difference maker.  I was running near identical splits to Nacho during the other sections but all the climbing was the real difference here.  That's good though. I know what I need to work on and I have plenty of time before I have to worry about races that climb.  I have a lot of time before Mt. Washington and any of the mountain races I'll do.  The snowshoe racing will be good solid work for me this year. I'm still wondering how many I'll actually do, as I really want to do a few other races this winter, but it was a really fun event this past weekend and I'm glad we had enough snow for it.  A definite positive, but I have work to do.

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