It felt like I was flying, careening down the narrow trail, flanked by pines bent low by heavy snow. My snowshoe-clad feet floated. I looked up at the branches overhead and felt completely alive. Like every fiber of my being was doing exactly what it was made to do. There is no doubt that I love running, but I love snowshoe running more. I love that it takes me into the woods, that it pushes me to my limit, that it feels more like play than like hard work.
On Saturday I headed up “north” through a lovely little winter storm to the Whitaker Woods Snowshoe Scramble. It’s been two years since I last ran a snowshoe race and after falling in love with the sport in 2014 I was eager to get out there and race.
Snowshoe racing is a whole new ball game when it comes to racing. Road paces mean nothing once you strap on your snowshoes and start racing through the woods. And even pacing is slightly different than a road race. In snowshoe racing you want to get out to a good position, considering that a lot of the trails are single track and it can be hard to change your position once you’re out there. So often you’re starting much faster than you would at a road race.
I went in to the race with no expectations, just to have fun and run hard. And I did just that. I ran hard, had fun and that landed me with a really great effort. In fact I negative split the race 8:59, 9:01, 8:24 and 7:09 (.83 it was slightly short of 4 miles), which is kind of crazy in my mind. Snowshoe races are tough and the terrain and conditions are always so different that it can be hard to run a well-executed race. But as the race went on I noticed that I didn’t tire, in fact I felt stronger. I remember feeling this same way during the Red’s Shoe Barn 5 Miler: this amazing feeling when you tell yourself to go faster and your body responds, and with relative ease. I feel like it’s a sign of deeper level of fitness, one I wasn’t expecting to start feeling so soon.
You can see me run by at about 43 seconds with bright orange hat and Six03Endurance top.
I finished as the second female, behind a gal who is quite speedy on snowshoes and on the road. But I’m more thrilled with that “feeling” that I had when I was pushing up the hills and later in the race when I was trying to push towards the finish.
Can’t wait until next time!