Snowshoe Race Report

It’s snowy again today and I have a rare rest day, so I am using the time to get caught up on things that sometimes get pushed aside with the craziness of the daily routine. I am also resting up for a power test on the bike tomorrow. Mark got a powertap wheel last year, but it mostly stayed on his bike, so I only used it a few times. For the last few months, the powertap has been on my bike and it’s been interesting to see the numbers. Tomorrow I’m doing an all-out power test for 20 minutes. Hopefully I will be ready and my average watts will exceed my weight (sometimes a challenge for me).

I’m happy to rest today because I am still tapped out from my first snowshoe race at Beaver Creek on Sunday. Mark has been trying to get me to do a snowshoe race for a long time even though I wasn’t particularly interested. I am not so strong when it comes to running straight uphill. And running through deep snow with snowshoes strapped on seemed particularly painful. Mark had a bunch of college friends in town for the weekend, and I agreed with one of them that I would do the race if he would do it. He’s from NYC, so I figured that if a guy from out of town is up for the challenge, surely I, a local, could arise to the occasion. I had only planned to do the 5K to start out with something less intimidating, but at the last minute (the registration table), Mark shamed me into doing the 10K – “you may as well get a good workout!”.  These events are small, but attended by some hard-core athletes. There are usually several athletes who are very good mountain runners and are sponsored by the snowshoe companies. There’s a definite risk of being in the back of the pack.

The races include a free "kids k" and a "dash for cash" which is usually entertaining

I should mention that I don’t actually own snowshoes. I had a pair a long time ago, but Mark adopted those as his own a while back and had his running shoes bolted on them. Luckily, you don’t need your own gear to race. Atlas demos their snowshoes for free. It’s pretty awesome. It was a really cold morning and the only footwear I had to race in were a pair of older K-Swiss running shoes with “drainage holes” in the bottom. Not what a person would normally select for a snowshoe race, but that’s all I had so I had to deal with it. I also made a rookie mistake (other than the footwear) and wore a long-sleeved cycling top. About halfway through the race, I couldn’t figure out what was weighing down my pockets so much. Had I left something in them? Nope. It was snow. A lot of it.

I had planned to start conservatively, and that was my only option, because after a little jaunt downhill, we were running uphill – steep uphill – for what felt like a very long time. We popped out on the ski mountain once or twice, but it was mostly a single track. I wasn’t sure of the passing etiquette on this type of course, so if I heard someone breathing down my neck, I usually tried to get to the side so they could pass. After what seemed like forever, we finally started running some flatter terrain. I thought it would be easy at this point, but it was still challenging because the snow was loose and it was hard to keep your balance. At one point I fell, landed on the side on the trail in the deeper snow and had a hard time shaking myself loose and getting back up. I had to laugh because what else can you do? I was out of my element. Then there was a bunch of downhill which was equally challenging. I yelled to the girl behind me that I wasn’t sure my descending technique was very good since it was my first snowshoe race (thinking she would be impressed that I was doing so well in my first race), and she yelled back, “yeah, me too!”  That shattered my illusion that everyone else was a seasoned pro at this snowshoe-racing thing, but then I was more determined not to let her pass me.

After more downhill, uphill, and a few more stumbles, we were finally close to the finish. I knew a girl was right behind me and I was really hoping I could hold her off and not get passed at the finish in full sight of the 20 or so people who were watching. Mark was there and I put my fingers to my lips when I saw him, which was the signal for “please don’t scream at me like an overly competitive lunatic,” and he must have gotten the message because he just said a few appropriate, encouraging things.

I was so happy to finish and take those tennis racquets off my feet, which were – it goes without saying – totally soaked. After these races, they have a nice lunch for the finishers and lots of raffle prizes. Mark checked the results and thinks I finished 4th or 5th, which sounds great, but there were probably only 12 women who did the 10K.

Our crew

I’ve reached that point in the winter where I am really looking forward to spring. Last winter we barely got any snow and I was able to ride outside every week or so throughout the winter. This winter has been an entirely different story. The kids are enjoying it, but that’s about it in our house.

Over 2 feet from this storm

I am much more of a warm-weather person, so I do what I can to survive the winter. Luckily I like to train indoors. We have a nice set-up in our basement for the trainer and treadmill. Many hours have been spent down here since November:

Our pain cave

Fortunately, we are escaping the cold and heading to California this weekend for “brick weekend,” which involves the Palm Springs Century on Saturday and the Palm Springs Half Marathon on Sunday. These events used to be on separate weekends, and we usually were only in town for the half marathon. A few years back, they put them together, and it’s become a popular training weekend for SoCal triathletes and people like us with ties to the area. You even get a cute brick award at the end of the half marathon if you have your wristband from the century.

They built a new aquatic center in Palm Desert which we got to enjoy over New Year’s, so it is hopefully going to be a warm, fun-filled several days of swim-bike-run for Mark and I with my parents there to help out with the kids. Win-win.

The awesome new Palm Desert Aquatic Center