Off-season training can get to be a little monotonous. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you this. Sprinkling in a few races here and there often helps me with the cabin fever. Unfortunately, I don’t live in a tropical paradise, swimming and biking get a little dicey this time of year. Its Colorado, so we go with what we have, mountains and snow. That means snowshoe racing.
I’ve done more than a few snowshoe races in the past. I even have my own pair of racing snowshoes! However, I didn’t do any last winter and I really felt it hurt me when it came time to race in the spring. Not this year. Fortunately, I’ve got plenty of friends (and a wife) who like to do crazy stuff like last weekend’s Swift Skedadle 5/10K snowshoe race.
You don’t need a full blown race report, so I’ll try to stick to the interesting stuff. First, I guess I’d forgotten how hard these things are! Running in snowshoes itself isn’t all that difficult, they’re not that big, or heavy, and you really don’t have to change your stride like you’d think.
What makes it hard? Well… start with the course. We’re in the Rockies, start/finish is at roughly 8700 ft. The 10K goes up to 9500 ft. For the most part the footing isn’t much worse that your average trail run, good for all those stabilizer muscles. But then there are the powder sections. Its not even like running in sand, it moves more. This particular course had a lot of ‘sugar’ sections. A pretty accurate description of the snow actually. When you’re in these sections, its best to try and follow everyone else’s footsteps, literally. Breaking trail sucks! Just missing footprints really challenges your balance. It wastes a ton of energy and generates a lot of cursing. The only problem is that the guys in front of me always seem to takes strides juuuust enough longer than I want to that it has pretty much the same effect.
I was reminded of this around the 1.5 mile mark as I was trudging up hill. I glanced down at my garmin which informed my that I was ‘progressing’ at a 28 minute per mile pace while my heart rate was 168bpm (that’s about 5bpm over LT, I think). Ouch!
Its also not much of a race… Yes, there are bibs, chip timing, t-shirts, awards, and great food at the finish! But its rare that you actually find someone to race. I think I moved into 6th place just before the first mile marker and that’s exactly where I finished. I could see 4th and 5th for another half mile or so, and 5th another half mile after that. I tried not to look behind me, but rarely did I see anyone. Unless someone throws a shoe (I’ve done it) its pretty much just a time trial suffer fest. Sound familiar anyone? Maybe that’s why I like ’em.