Maddie May coming into the finish in 2nd place at the FCRC Tortoise & Hare 4K
After a pretty warm start to the winter and lots of nice runs on dry trails, I got a good taste of running in the snow this weekend. Saturday morning I drove up to Nederland for the Hardwater 30K Snowshoe Race put on by Gemini Adventures. I had been looking forward to this race after having a great time last year, finishing 2nd place overall. I went in pretty confident with a strong base of lots of trail running miles from the holiday break including one easy 5 mile snowshoe run up on Cameron Pass a couple days after Christmas. I was sure that even with my lack of snowshoe prep., my fitness would carry me through a strong race and maybe even a win. I warmed up with an easy jog up the trail before the race without my snowshoes on and felt pretty good. The sun was out and it was reasonably warm, maybe mid 20s. I started out fairly hard to stay with the lead group and within half a mile, the muscles in my shins were so tight that it felt like they were going to rip right off the bone. I had to slow down, walk, then even stop for a bit to try to stretch out. I guess my mistake was not warming up sufficiently with the snowshoes on. The first 3 miles were mostly up hill, giving the muscles in my shins no relief and I struggled on slowly- very slowly. After about 4 and half miles and a short section of flats and down hill, my muscles loosened up and I was able to run again. Things went pretty smoothly for a while and I caught a few of the 20+ runners that had passed me. I made it to the aid station at mile 6 where the short course turns around and the 30K continues to the lollipop loop and the big climb of the course. I grabbed a couple cookies and kept running. I ran the next mile in 11 minutes which sounds slow, but was significantly faster than my pace in the first part of the race. The next couple of miles were tough, because the snow got a lot deeper and the trail climbs for what seemed to be forever. After finally hitting the top of the climb, I pushed down the hill and back to the aid station which meant there were just 6 miles to go. At this point I must have had a real drop in blood sugar, because my energy level and consequently my pace went way down. Once I figured out what was going on and ate something, I started feeling better and was able to run the last 3 miles pretty well...even catching a couple more racers. I came into the finish with 18.8 miles and 5 hours 24 minutes on the Garmin. This was a full 40 minutes slower than my time on the same course last year. The snow was definitely deeper this year, but I have to blame my slower race on my lack of snowshoe training, insufficient warm-up and carelessness with my fueling. It was not the race I wanted to have, but it was a good exercise in suffering and I can chalk it up to some good lessons learned.
Sunday's running was much more fun starting with a snowy wake up and a decision to run the Tortoise and Hare 4K with Maddie. She has been going out for runs almost everyday since the new year and she was a great sport about heading out to the race on a cold morning. It was a lot of fun running with Maddie and I was impressed to see her run so well. She ran the second half of the out and back course a full minute and 10 seconds faster than the first half and finished in 2nd place with a time of 26:24. She ran hard the whole way while we talked, watched a fox run across the trail, and cheered for the rest of the runners as we saw them on our way back. Maddie proudly accepted her 2nd place ribbon and we enjoyed our bagels at the post race breakfast.
I went out for another run in the snow with Ean in the afternoon around the park and through Pineridge. Next weekend is the Twin Mountain Trudge in WY which promises to be another great adventure running in the snow.