Ray's Blog

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

2006 February 26: Eric Nageotte Memorial 5K Snowshoe Race

My first ever snowshoe race! I was going to do one the previous winter, but just beforehand I managed to separate my shoulder, and I wasn't interested in pursuing any activities that might involve falling and stressing it.

By the way, as far as I know, snowshoes races don't grow on trees, so you gotta get 'em in whilst you can. In fact, I know of only two snowshoe races in my neck of the woods (both races are recurring annual events).

Anyway, I showed up at Camp Richardson, the site of the race. Recent spring-like conditions had been pretty harsh to much of the snow in the area, so at the last minute, they completely re-jiggered the course. Instead of a 5K loop, they made it into a 4 mile (approximately) out-and-back course, chosen carefully so as to go through snow as much as possible. Even so, there were a few snow-free spots we had to trudge through.

There were probably 20-30 people who showed up for the race. I had no idea of what to do for pacing for this event, since I had cleverly avoided ever running in my snowshoes for more than 50 yards or so at a time. At the start, two people started out together, then me and another guy, and then everyone else behind us (since I don't have eyes in the back of my head, I don't know the details of the configuration behind me). I started out at what seemed at the time to be a good pace, and indeed, it certainly seemed good enough to raise my heart rate pretty quickly (I wasn't wearing my heart rate transmitter belt, so I don't have any actual numbers to report).

Maybe five minutes into the race, I forged ahead of the guy I was running with, moving into a decisive third place. I could see that one of the two guys up front had taken off ahead of the other one at a good clip, and I was gaining on the #2 dude. I worked my way up to just behind the #2 dude, and ran in that position for a while, certain that at some point soonish, I'd pass him.

Unfortunately, what actually happened is that I fell apart a little. I was working pretty hard! I just couldn't keep going at that rate. So I slowed down a bit, and watched #2 recede into the distance. Even the newly slowed-down pace was a bit much, and I was really starting to wonder where that damned turn-around point was! When the trail started heading uphill (nothing steep-- just a small grade), I decided I was pretty beat and that my calves were already hurting plenty, and I stopped running and started walking.

#3 passed by me, as did another guy, putting me in fifth. How far out did this course go, anyway?! At this point I was doing a mix of running and walking. Finally the guy in the lead passed by me in the other direction, still going at a nice pace. A bit later, the other three guys, all together in a clump, passed by in the other direction. "Almost there" (or something like that), one of them said.

I slogged on to the turnaround point and started running back. It didn't look like anyone was very close to me. Since the -and-back portion of the out-and-back was mostly flat or downhill, I ran most of it (at a somewhat more moderate pace than I started the day with). Boy, this course was long!

Finally I arrived back at the start, having crossed paths with everyone else in the race other than the four guys ahead of me. I'm not sure what my time was; I think it was around 44 minutes. I was pretty out of breath from my exertions, and I sat around coughing and recovering and eating for a good 20 minutes or so after the race.

Next time I vow to start out at a more reasonable pace! Being able to see my heart rate might be helpful, too, although I should really be in tune enough with myself to have some idea of how hard I'm working. Mebbe I'll get a pair of running snowshoes, too-- e.g., the Atlas Dual-Trac or Dual-Trac SL.

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