Sunday, February 26, 2017

Dion Ganaraska Snowshoe Race 2017

Well, it's been an interesting few months. early December triggered dormant (dormant?) PTSD and I was off work for about 6 or 7 weeks.  I had a lot of healing in that time, but struggled to leave the house, and had panic attacks a lot, so running was not - ideal.

Sara, my amazing coach, was super understanding, and extremely flexible in adjusting training, but even still, some weeks it felt like nothing was happening.  But I started to be able to get out more and more, even if it were just for walks with the dogs (I still miss Thursday morning walks with April and Bailey!).

I went back to work on February 1st and by February 4th was on vacation for 10 days (we'd paid for it) - a cabin near Algonquin Provincial Park for 9 days and then some family medical stuff one day.  We snowshoed while up there but it was not the crazy workout schedule I would've hoped - a few runs, in addition to snowshoes, some in white outs (compare to Toronto which had no snow).

We got back on the 12th.  On the 19th, we went out to north of Port Hope (northeast of Toronto) for the Dion Ganaraska 8km snowshoe race.  It was hot - unseasonably - I think it got up to 15C.  I was hanging out before the race and ran in a tshirt.

The race was easy and quick to get to from Toronto.  The parking lot was a sheet of ice but we could see lots of snow in the woods, despite it being soft from the heat.  I picked up my race kit and chatted with a man who was getting into triathlons who was running his first snowshoe race.  I said 'Just pace yourself - snowshoe running is more difficult than trail running which is more difficult than road running.'  Actually, that's not an exact quote, but I told him to pace himself.

Went outside to hang with Toby and the dogs and to put my race bib on my tshirt, which was the Dirty Girls tshirt, and ended up speaking to a racer who'd run it as well, and we said what a shame it was that it wasn't happening anymore.  He was a really nice guy, but I didn't get his name.  We talked with him after the race as well (before I cooled down).

Did pre-race toilet stuff, hung out, did a warm up snowshoe (the roads being icy, though I used microspikes and cooled down on the road) then got back to the race start with 10-15 minutes before race time.  Ran the warm up a bit hard, I have trouble gauging pace snowshoe running, plus it takes me awhile to warm up, so I figured - ran hard and warm up faster!  Maybe not!

My legs were fine, but quickly into the race my heart rate spiked back up, not all because of the hard warm up but I think in part because of it.  I think I seeded myself okay.  Passed people on the first 'hill', then didn't really get passed until 1-1.5k in by some people that had clearly not seeded themselves well.

One lady passed me, and I was torn between being like 'Dammit' and 'Well, she's thin'.  I kept her within sight though, of varying distances, but didn't want her getting away entirely.

The race course is a lollipop, with a 2km out, 4km loop, 2km back, and one big hill, somewhere between 3-4k if my memory serves.  Before the big hill me and thin lady had passed a struggling woman who must've gone out too hard, and the rest of the race I was haunted by the thought that she was coming from behind.

Sara had said to push the flats and downhills and recover on the uphills - did so-so at this.  There was one decently long flat section and I realized 'Holy you're running slow'.  But that helped me refocus.  Got to the top of the big hill and pushed pace, kept with thin girl (not too close) and enjoyed myself, though the race course folded a bit and I was like 'I hear voices!  Oh god how close are they!!!!!'  I knew all the up going out though, we'd get to go back down, and on the back half of the course I was closing on thin girl (oddly I'd close the gap on the uphills...go figure, the fat chick being fast on the ups) when she fell.  I caught her, checked in with her, she was okay, so we ran together for awhile but it was pushing pace for me so I slowed and walked some.  Before that though we did see an awesome paramedic directing traffic at one of the trail intersections!

One other woman caught us - I ran with her for a bit, but was gassing some - I was still running, for the most part, just tired.  She went ahead.

Up the final hill (I may have walked) and then across the field to the finish!  I ran across the field and like a jerk caught thin girl and passed her in what passes for the finisher's chute in a 44 person race.  #jerk  I'm pretty sure she was there with a triathlon club though so she should be used to jerks (I kid!  I'm married to a triathlete!  Seriously great people).

I finished the 8k in 1:14:36, 21/44 racers, and 11/31 women.  Which is MOP for the field, kind of FOP for women - not bad for 20lbs above normal BMI!!!!!!!!!  And for having PTSD screw with training!

The racers I met that day were all such lovely people, I really enjoyed myself, and race directors Erin and Joe did an amazing job marking the course - there was no question where you were going - just a solid race all round.  Good swag, great race series, so much fun.  Everyone was saying this is the hardest race in the series, though I've only done Frontenac and Frozen Ass (may it RIP) before, but yeah - it was harder than both of those.

High recommended!!!!  Thanks again to Sara at Health and Adventure for being such a great coach and for prepping me so well in spite of myself!  Used my Dion snowshoes which I've had for...4 years now?  And am as in love with now as the first day I had them.