Wednesday, January 15, 2014

CockaDoodle Shoe 10k Jan 18th--Adirondack Powder- First Big Snowshoe Race of the Season

It is time!  After a lovely winter break, it is finally time to lace-up those snowshoes and get after it! I am so very excited to see what the season brings and I cannot wait to race well!

I have been diligently putting in more volume running after the flu (10-15 miles a day) to get myself back to where I was with the Fall in top shape. It has been tough getting in the efforts but I have managed to do my best.

My first snowshoe race will be the Cockadoodle Shoe 10k up in Saranac, NY near Plattsburgh.  It will be a fun drive up through the Adirondacks on Friday and I am excited to run fast and get the ball rolling for snowshoe racing. I am looking forward to the challenge and the opportunity of racing on a solid course that has had some strong competition up-front. And you never know what can happen when first place is $150 dollars the largest prize purse I have ever heard of in snowshoe running. Currently, the snow has melted here in Cortland but hopefully there is still some up in the North Country for this race.  It is going to be a great year of racing as I feel very fit and rested enough to be able to perform at a high level. Of course you never know what might happen leading up to a race or even in daily training but the name of the game is to place yourself out there for success. I wish everyone a fun winter for the last few months and even when it is cold outside, all it takes is that first step outside to get yourself going.

A cold snowy run this holiday season

Here is a link to the race website:

Sunrise on a lovely Cortland, NY morning

Link to write-up on the Highland Forest 10k:

Cockadoodle Shoe 10k Race Report---Post-holing, falling, and Running Fast

So Saturday's race did not turn out the way I had envisioned it. I felt like I could run comfortable through the first half and then show my speed and strength and charge home for the win. Boy, was I wrong. Not only was the competition fierce, but I probably had my worst snowshoe race to date which sounds crazy if you look at the results so let me explain…..

The trip all began on a Friday morning. I loaded up my car with my belongings, filled up with gas and headed the 5 hours to Saranac, NY right near Plattsburgh.  It was a long drive but very interesting. It was fun to pass Watertown, St. Lawrence University, Potsdam, Malone, and then the small Adirondack towns of the North Country. My intent was to make it to the race course before the sun would set so that I could preview the course before the next day…RACE DAY!

I was able to make it out to the course by around 3, just enough time to jog the course before night-fall. I would be staying with Jeremy Drowne, the race director of the Cockadoodle Shoe 10k and his family and I was excited for the whole experience.

The layout of the course

The course was in decent condition considering most of the snow in Cortland was all gone and a recent warm spell almost made this race not possible. I had the chance to jog the course the day prior and though the course felt fast, I had a decent post-hole tumble down a steep hill and then realized that I probably should take it easy. The snow was so hard-packed that a lot of it was hollow so though it looked solid one weight-bearing step and boom , you would fall right through.  I got in about a 5.5 mile run of the course and then proceeded to link up with Jeremy, the race director. I really appreciate him and his family's kind hospitality and the pizza was AWESOME!!! I got myself all ready, laid out my gear as is the tradition and then hit the futon for a nice night's sleep. The next day was going to be a big day!  We woke up around 7ish and with a nice breakfast it was time to head to the Land Trust.

*2 Pairs of Fits Light Trail Socks
*Craft Flex Tight
*Dion Snowshoe Hat
*Mammut MTR 141 Thermal Top (Warm and Flexy)
*Mammut MTR 71 T-shirt
*Craft Hybrid Weather Glove

*Kala Patar Tech Hoody (Best Mammut Top around!)

After a 45 minute drive to the race site, I decided to check-in and run around the course to warm-up and just relax before the start. Here is what I saw:

New Land Trust Course Markers!  

*Acidotic Racing Shirt!

Nice crisp cool day

The Main Lodge (Registration)

Sign-up booth inside


I raced with my trusty Dion snowshoe 121's, Standard Cleat because of the hard-packed snow and the speed-velcro binding system. I love Dion Snowshoes because they are interchangeable and they have some simple style. The white with the slight orange really sets them apart.  Light, Durable, Fast, and Comfortable describe Dions in a nutshell.  I took my nice jog of about a mile and a half of the course just trying to get my bearings with the footing which was going to be interesting because of the hard-packed snow that was not groomed so it was extremely uneven. Due to the unstable course conditions (the day earlier I ate it BAD on a pot-hole) I knew that tightening my binding system as tight as I could would help make a difference. What you will see is that this day was just not my day.


I snapped this photo about 15 minutes before the race would begin.  It was time and I was relaxed and poised to run a very fast time. I traveled 4.5 hours of the chance to run a very quick time and to hopefully win the race in dramatic fashion.


The race was a once around 10k loop. The first 5k would be with the 5k racers and then the loop would split for the final 5k of the race. We lined up in a open meadow with lovely views of the Adirondack Mountains in the distance and this set the stage for a big-time event. I did some strides waiting for the rest of the about 80 or so runners to reach the starting line.

(Photos are credited to the New Land Trust Website!)

Once we all gathered, it was photo time and off we went with a loud "GO!" from the timers.  From the start I kept catching pot-holes on the snow as I positioned myself right with the front pack of about 4 of us. I was with Matt M, Mitch and Jeremy Drowne (Race Director).  I told Jeremy that no World Records would be made today with all of the falling and slipping. I fought for second position behind Jeremy then quickly took to the front. behind the lodge we hit our first downhill which I used my reckless speed and opened up a nice gap only 2 minutes into the race. The pace felt comfortable and my plan was to run in control through 5k then blitz the last 5k once I had separated myself from the rest of the group.  The downside to the race was that I was going to post-hole like 20 times in the race with 5 times actually getting stuck under the snow layer with my foot trapped in half a foot of thick ice. Yeah, it was bad!

So what happened to me that gave me such a hard time. Well, on the first downhill section, I hit the snow funny and my heel-binding loosened.  As we crested the first steep uphill, I made it almost to the top and had to stop and re-fasten my snowshoe as it was slipping off. That was the first mistake. I went from first to 5th as a waisted a good minute and a half fixing the binding.  Once I had the shoes all figured out, I sprinted down the hill and started the chase. I caught everyone very quickly and then proceeded to catch Matt M. and then just drafted behind him. I thought that Jeremy was long gone so it was a race for second. Not knowing Matt was first place, I drafted right behind him for about a mile and a half before passing. Then I turned on the jets and started striding out. I was now going for first place though I thought I was in second but truly I was leading the race. I did alright with the adverse snow conditions and danced along the course. I would hit a pot-hole every now and then but nothing to stop me in my tracks.  I had made it to the 5k point running really relaxed and in control. I turned on the jets some more then up the trail I had my first accident. I got stuck in the snow as I panicked and tried to punch the ice around my snowshoe so I could get out of the pothole. I sat there for a good minute and a half trying to free my foot. When I did, Matt passed me and off I was to try and catch him.  I had lost sight of him then could see him in the trees. Boom! I am stuck again! I yelled some bad words as I could not believe this twice. I lost another minute.  Off I was to catch Matt again and this time I caught him. I drafted behind him a little more then took the lead again. This time I was getting tired. I had already made this 10k a sprint for me. I now put the pedal down and of course it happened again! ARE YOU KIDDING ME I THOUGHT TO MYSELF!!!!!!!!!!

WHAT IS GOING ON??????!!!!!

Matt as he passes me again tells me to move backwards. I try that and still my snowshoe is stuck so bad in the snow the only way to get it out is to punch the ice around the lip where my shoe lays buried. I get it free after maybe another minute and a half and off I go again. By this point my race mentality is over! I am so DONE with the RACE!  I have waisted so much time maybe a whole 5 minutes almost a mile of the race dealing with stopping!  I was not going to win the prize money and I was not having fun anymore. I just wanted this thing to end after getting severely stuck! I cannot STRESS how STUCK I WAS. MY FOOT WAS Buried 4 inches deep in crusty snow with solid ice making-up the layers of the snow and the hole was perfect so that the frame of my snowshoe would catch about 4 inches of ice on either side.  So the race ends with me finally catching Matt again on the exposed barn loop. It was a slight uphill and man I felt like I was running so slow. I looked behind and saw a Paul Smith's runner approaching and I thought to myself we have to move to avoid being caught. I surged ahead and passed Matt. I was so tired at this point. With still some energy in the tank, I slowed my pace a little even though I was pushing hard. I could hear the clamor of snowshoes right behind me.  With about 55 meters to go I get passed by Bob Bolton.  I find out that I was in first before he passed me!  

I was a little shocked to find that I lost out on the prize money because of me being complacent. If I wanted to out kick Bob, then I would of secured first.  I thought we were fighting for second and as he passed me I thought it was no point to challenge with second and third place pretty much the same in terms of awards.  Boy did I learn my lesson.  It was great to race such solid competition in a snowshoe race which I have not had since Nationals. It helped push me and also those guys too to very fast times.

Myself at the finish

*I will admit I was mad at myself for how I raced.  I had a very bad day for me in snowshoe running.  As I look back on the race I was really being hard on myself. I feel like second let down my friends, family, my father, my lovely girlfriend Ashlee and my sponsors who give me these chances to show my stuff.  It was a long drive back home. I felt dejected and defeated. It was tough. I was worried what my Mammut staff would think of me. I was worried. But looking back on the race, the experience, it was a successful trip. I met some awesome people, made some great friends,  raced some great competition, and the top three ran 44 minutes flat which is like 7:06 a mile. What does that mean? Perhaps I averaged 6:30's the majority of the race maybe even faster?  I felt strong the whole way and had some give left. I think I will be even hungrier for my other races and for Nationals. With a tough race at Nationals last year, I want to not only make the team but shoot for a number one placing. I know this sounds like a stretch but I really believe in myself this year and I truly think I am capable of doing something I have never done before.  If I did not post-hole that race, I might have run sub 40 minutes for the 10k. I can only wonder what time I could run on that course. I have a race for redemption Jan 26th at Highland Forest. It is the NY State Championships again and I am the defending champ.  I love this course because it is the perfect balance of everything that is snowshoe. It has ups and downs, hard packed snow, loose snow, creeks, logs, and all kinds of obstacles. What I learned from this race is that running is great but I should not always be so hard on myself. I can always redeem myself and run to my potential.  And most importantly, it should be fun.  I have had some nice training runs this week leading up to the race and really I have felt like I am really fit for snowshoe running. For the first time, I was not dying in a snowshoe race and actually felt not so bad!  Maybe I am starting to get the hang of this stuff!

I would like to take this moment to thank all my friends, family, supporters and my running sponsors: Mammut North America, Acidotic Racing, Dion Snowshoes, Fits Socks, Karhu/Craft for all their support of my dreams.  

My next post will be titled: "Race for Redemption" on the Highland Forest Snowshoe 10k

I am excited to see where this sport takes me and boy do I have a fire burning inside.  Think of Catniss from the Hunger Games.  I am going to go for it!

Thank you Matt, Jeremy, and Mitch for being awesome!

A link of the race coverage:

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