It was a fun day. Not a fast day, not a day that went as planned, but a fun day.
As my shins were bothering me, I had the best snowshoe sherpa EVER (Toby!) work on my legs before the race, so everything was feeling in tip-top shape race day.
We woke up about 6 am Sunday morning for the race, I got dressed, got the dogs out the door, and then made up some travel oatmeal and yogourt to eat while we drove. The drive went pretty smoothly - one stop for coffee (Toby can't function without it, yech on my part) and then we got to Trenton and found our way to the Batawa Ski Hill. It had snowed in Toronto, and I wanted to make sure we'd get there in good time, but it hadn't snowed east of the city and we got out there in great time. I think we were the first ones there!
Toby brought out his fancy pants camera and helped me set up the Go Pro which I wore on the chest harness to make a video which if I can work it I will link to here.
Since the race is part of the Dion Eastern Ontario Snowshoe Race series, we got a Dion beer glass with the race entry (which is awesome, now I have two) as well as some Clif products, who are another sponsor of the series.
The race started down the road near the power lines. After some race instructions, which I did not hear over the crunching of people walking on snowshoes towards the race director (more on this later), we got started. There was a 4k race and an 8k race. I was doing the 8k.
I know the race was likely to be short, as Coach Derrick's wife Sara who was running and had done the race previously told me it felt short. The race started on the hydro lines before entering snowmobile trails. Fairly soon we hit the 4k turnaround - I had passed the one guy I was pacing off of, and traded places with another runner who had passed me again and was running not too far ahead.
Then we got to a spot on the trail where there was a small tree down across the trail and the red marking tape on it.
Apparently the race director had said 'turn left at the tree'. This was probably said while everyone was crunching, because I didn't hear it. And it was a hard left, leaving the snowmobile trail and going onto smaller less defined trail. The girl ahead of me went straight, and even though I felt some disquiet - why was the tree taped? Were we supposed to turn? Or was it taped so that people would see it? - I followed her.
I then spent a fair bit of time wondering if we were on the right trail, and when we would start seeing the leaders coming back. I wondered if the girl in front was looking to see if she could see snowshoe tracks on the trail.
Eventually I passed her, and couldn't really see any. As I was deciding that in fact there were none, we came to a spot where there was an intersection and no flagging tape. There had been flagging tape, old compared to the course flagging tape, but still flagging tape. So the girl and I consulted and decided to go back. At this point I was certain the tree was flagged so that you didn't go straight. Sure enough we got back to the tree and saw the front-runners coming down the big hill. I have to admit, I walked up the hill - I figured I had added at least a kilometre onto the course, and wasn't racing anyone other than the other girl who went off course, and she was now behind me. I saw Sara on her way down, and started running again once I got to the top. Heading towards the turn around I saw the guy I'd passed ages ago and he said I was almost at the turnaround (which I got to and realized that the course was definitely short). I headed back up another good-sized hill and saw the other girl heading towards the turnaround.
I was ahead of her, but I wanted to beat her - totally MY fault I went off course, my responsibility to know the course, and my dumb for following another racer - but I still wanted to beat her. So when I got to the start of the hill I tried to run at a good pace and heading down the big hill I figured I had an advantage with my Dion snowshoes and good cleats (she was wearing the Northern Lite running snowshoes, and I have Northern Lites for backpacking and the cleats suck on the descents, one reason why I went with the Dions).
At the Dion Frontenac Snowshoe Race, I got passed in the last 50 metres or so, and wanted to avoid this happening, so when I got to the flatter section (some slight rolling hills, I suppose, but mostly going down) I tried to stay consistent and speed up a bit. I crossed the road and headed back into the powerlines and knew I was almost done. In the end, I put quite a bit of distance on the girl and came in ahead very comfortably.
My Garmin showed 8.28k. I played the track in Garmin Connect and going off course for the additional out and back added on 1.2k. I finished in 1:02, so not fast, but I'm still good with it.
I realized I need to learn how to pace a snowshoe race. Obviously I need to do more snowshoe running. I can run a lot faster not on snowshoes (duh) but since snowshoe running is so much harder I think I pace myself easier than I need to. That said, my legs were tired biking the next day, but not terribly so. I just hadn't expected them to be at all.
One positive - when I ran the Frontenac race, which was shorter, my core was tired at the end (cardio and legs fine). This time, my core was fine - I've been doing some easy core work 3X/week and it looks like it is paying off.
Coming in at the finish:
Despite going off course, I had a great time. I got to see Derrick and Sara, which was nice, and picked up some new UltrAspire product from Derrick as well as borrowing a Joe Strummer book, which is a good read so far.