Monday, February 9, 2015

Feeling Frosty at the Frosty Loomis Snowshoe 10k Race--Hammond Hill State Forest

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am please to bring to you my report on the Frosty Loomis Snowshoe race that took place Jan 31st of 2015 for the inaugural event. It was a cold morning and with this race, I ended up networking with a bunch of guys where we would run the course Wednesday nights in Hammond Hill. I found that having the chance to run the course has not only helped me in terms of snowshoe running shape, but also helped me for race day.

As a first year race, it was exciting to have a snowshoe race for people in Central New York in a location that is close for those living in Ithaca, Cortland and Binghamton as there has not been such a race in quite some time. The Finger Lakes Running Club helped put on the event as the Frosty Loomis Snowshoe race's Main Sponsor. I was excited to have some fun and to have the opportunity to get another quality snowshoe race in the books.

Leading up to the event, it was wonderful to be able to spend many Wednesday and/or Thursday Nights with a crew of Ithacans running out along the course we would navigate on race-day. I felt very strong coming into the race though as classes had just begun, I was a little tired coming into the event.

After marking the course with Boris, one of the RDs through a cold snowy morning that had me propel my car into a little bit of deep snow (no one was hurt including the car), I was gearing up to run somewhere around sub 50 minutes for the course.

For anyone that knows Hammond Hill State Forest, there are some solid hills to the course, great views, and a solid challenge for the snowshoe running enthusiast. In the 10k course, it begins with a solid 2 miles of gradual uphill climbing followed by a few short uphill bursts and small downhills. Once by the 5k, the course levels out then begins a roller-coaster ride of hills with 2 solid downhills. Then you climb up the steep snow-drift area up a nice long half-mile climb followed by a flat plateau and some downhills. The finish is a nice last-mile downhill finish back to the warming hut.

My guess is that this course gains about 1,200-200 feet in elevation in the 6.0 miles of the race course.  It is a balanced course perfect to simulate any type of course lay-out for Snowshoe Nationals.

Race-day was a cold morning with temps in the -5 to single digits with sunshine and some strong gusts. I had all of my Mammut gear to keep me nice and warm and even two pairs of gloves to warm those hands of mine up. I soon found out that running mits are the way to go if you want to ensure you keep all of your fingers in-tact.

We arrived at the line and then departed for the race. I immediately took to the lead and started to push up the steep hills of the first 2 miles.  I was huffing and puffing as my legs started to fatigue quicker than what I would have liked. But what really got to me was the cold air on my face in the first mile had frozen my face to the point where my skin felt like leather. I kept smacking and rubbing my face to get some warmth and blood-flow going to the region. I also had freezing cold hands as they burned through the climbs of the opening miles. I had a decent lead maybe 20 seconds or so to spare. As I came through the 5k point, my face was beginning to warm-up and my hands began to heat up some too ...except for my left pinkie finger!  I kept clutching that darn pinkie as I was running up and down the hills of the course.  In the first few miles, I wanted to drop out because I felt super cold to the point where I was a little worried about frost-bite. I split the 5k somewhere near 21 minutes and the early hot pace through the rutted snow path was taking its toll on my body. I began to relax into a slower pace to recover some and then make a push the last mile.

Miles 4-5 had me slow-down a significant amount yet I still could not see anyone else behind me. With about 30 minutes elapsed, I felt it was time to slowly stride out more on the flats, hammer the down-hills and then charge the remaining uphills. I regained my tempo back to the early pace I was running to begin the race. Once I saw the sign labeled, "Finishline" I knew I was a mile away. I picked up my pace faster than I have ever run in a race in snowshoes next to the Bend, Oregon Snowshoe Nationals and hammered to the finishline.

I came across the line exclaiming a "Loomis!" in honor of freezing my body for 6 miles of sheer winter wonderland bliss. I ran around 46:56 which for the 6.0 mile race was about 7:50's which for a day which had me on low energy-levels and tired from a 90-mile training week, I was very pleased to run the way I did.  It was not my prettiest race, but all in all, it was a solid day out on the trails.

It was great to converse with everyone as they came across the finishline. Boris and Eric and the crew did such a great job organizing the event and I think everyone had a wonderful time.

This is the point in my story where I thank Mammut North America for being a company that has inspired me to reach for new heights in my running, Boom Nutrition for keeping me going with energy gels chock-full of fruit goodness  as a gel before each race has proven to be a huge success, Redfeather Snowshoes for working with me and for giving me snowshoes that have changed the way I train and race, Karhu/Craft North America for great training shoes along with Mammut to keep me running light and fast as well as the best baselayer in the industry, Fits Socks for the best fitting athletic socks around and for keeping my feet super insulated. And to my new team: Red Newt Racing/Mountain Peak Fitness for helping me in my endurance racing endeavors for 2015 and beyond.