Monday, February 16, 2015

Bretton Woods Winter Tri - Baxter Outdoors Packed Powder Series

When I see an event that has Triathlon in the title I am naturally drawn to it. So when the Bretton Woods Winter Triathlon by Baxter Outdoors showed up on my Facebook news feed I had to race it. I talked with Steve and he ok'd it. Yes I have to run everything by him, especially in this case because it changed my training the week leading up to it.

I've never run on snow and I've only snowshoe ran once at the Winter Tri at Whittaker Woods, three years ago. So I had to get used to running with resistance/weight on my feet. I did an easy 5k snowshoe run at work on Wednesday only tripped twice and the next day my hip flexors were sore but that was to be expected.

Thursdays training was a brick - 5k snowshoe run to 5k skate ski. Just figured out how to get video to display on my blog!! So here is my Facebook post on this brick:

Post by Meghan Skidmore.
If it doesn't play click here

Thursday afternoon I contacted the president of Stabil Icers as they were one of the sponsors for the race to let him know I am the "cover girl" for their product and see if there was any support/sponsorship available to me. Here is part of his response

          "We do have a new Ambassador Program with only one Ambassador to date who is a      
           Canadian runner. We would love to have a New England Ambassador and would be happy to 
           provide product and support your presence online and at events as well."

In a matter of two hours of email correspondence I became the New England Ambassador for them!! They overnighted gear and I had it just in time for the race!

Friday I had to do openers (three, 3 min race pace effort invervals on my bike) as I do before every race.

Saturday morning was race day! I was able to eat all my oatmeal mixed with sliced almonds, granola and honey so the nerves hadn't gotten a hold of me yet. I packed a few snacks for pre race, 10am is my snack time so I knew I'd be hungry again.

The race started at 10am which is when I am almost finished with my summer tris so it was a bit different for me. It allowed more time to get nervous.  Plus it was about 10 degrees. I don't race much in the winter so had no idea what to wear. I packed my big duffel and made changes as I needed while warming up.

I arrived with plenty of time to warm up but that time disappeared quickly as I had to figure out clothing, the transition and a warm up. I checked in and Adam, the Race Director, said we knew you were coming. Neil from Stabil Icers had contacted him about my new role with the company. Adam was glad to have me race.

My summer warm ups are ingrained in my head. I set up transition after askingAdam how the flow would go and went out for a ski. I forgot my h20 waist belt so I couldn't drink. I skied for less then 10 mins and started to feel way low on energy and almost felt "bonky". I turned around and dug around in my bag and I didn't bring what I needed. I purchased some energy gummies and had two but almost spit them out they weren't great. Glad I didn't spit them out it would have been funny to try and spit partially chewed gummies in an area packed with people. I had a few almonds and finished my banana. I only brought one gel, that was a mistake. I keep a few gels in my summer tri bag but that bag wasn't big enough to hold all my stuff so I used a different bag.

I set up my transition where I thought it would be and went for a short run. Start time was fast approaching. I returned and my stuff was still the only set up. As Adam made announcements I had to decide on adding another layer or not. I ran in a got my vest and set it down near my snowshoes in case I needed it.

I had to get a picture of my Stabil Icers to share on their Facebook page to fulfill my ambassador duties.

Although this race was small I still got nervous and never once though I would win, I wanted to and told myself I would on the drive over, but as Steve always tells me "You can't control anyone or anything else. Stay with in your race and block all others out. The chips will fall as they do and do the best you can." Reason #145 I am lucky to have Steve.
The run was 3.1 miles broken into 2 laps around the Mt. Washington Hotel mostly on roads, a course change the morning of. Bretton Woods Nordic didn't want us running on their groomed trails. I was dreading running in snow and hadn't had a chance to do so during the week. So I was elated at this change.

3....2....1 Go!! At the start of every race everyone goes out too hard to jockey for the perfect position. We filed in after the first turn and I was passed by a female in under 5 minutes and in less then 3 minutes she was out of sight! I stayed at my pace and when I finished the first lap Regina yelled "She's got 2:00 minutes on you!" Two thoughts went through my mind "Whoa, who is this girl?" and "Keep your pace you still have more than 10km of racing to go." I did my second lap and was passed by one guy. I came into T1 and made the switch before him and never saw him. Felt good about that. (I found out later he only did the run portion)

As I took my running shoes off and put my feet into my Salomon's that were already strapped into the snowshoes, Regina yelled "She just went over the bridge!" (200 yrds away) Great I might have a chance of catching her! Thanks to Doug Mayer for letting me borrow them!!

My legs felt the shift in stride and the light weight of the snowshoe but I blocked that out. Not far after the bridge I noticed a pair of snowshoes on the side of the trail and foot prints on the course. I was shocked to see someone already had their ski boots on for the next leg and tried running with snowshoes attached to them. Well apparently that's not a great idea. I had no idea who it was. After mile 1 ish of lovely groomed terrain, very easy to run on. We ventured into the woods for the ungroomed portion of the race very hard to run in. It was walked the day before by two snowshoers setting the course. So it wasn't really packed at all. It was a trudge and every time I lifted my snowshoe I was lifting snow with it and had to stay in the narrow path or else I'd disappear in the 3 feet of snow on either side. Even with three athletes in front, it still wasn't an even surface. It was THE hardest and most mentally challenging part of the race. I honestly wanted to stop and that's never happened in a race before but I have also never run in deep snow. I heard someone behind me and that kept me going.

I discovered the person running in cross country boots post holeing up to her mid shins, I finally caught her! Laura was struggling big time. I was hoping she'd step into the snowy abyss to allow me to stay in the path but that didn't happen. I stepped out almost got sucked into the deep fluffyness.  I kept trying to run and lost a little time but passed her. The deep snow went on forever! I finally made it back to groomed after a little more than a mile of slogging. The 3rd place female, Hillary passed me and started down the next hill. Then her snowshoe fell off I smiled a little inside - this is one of the things I can't control but I can take advantage of. I said "Shoot" and felt a little bad for her. I ran even harder for about a minute to build a gap. I held her off for only 5 minutes, at least that's what I thought. As she passed me she didn't have snowshoes on. It was Laura again, she passed me like I was walking and disappeared again. "Commme on!" I said inside. Again two thoughts; "If she can ski I won't catch her" "That's not fair she ran it all with out the weight of snowshoes maybe she'll be disqualified"

As I got closer to T2 she was making her way back over the bridge. I took one glance at her form and she was fumbling. I smiled inside and knew I'd catch her. Then I as I entered transition Hillary was right with me. I got concerned, I had no idea if she could ski. I noticed she had on small gaitors which I decided against because it would take longer to get them off and into my ski boots.

I stuck my feet into my boots and tried to close the straps, I couldn't because the snow had built up around the bottom of my tights. I quickly problem solved and yanked them up out of my boots and put my skis and poles on. I was out before Hillary. I was ready for the much faster pace of sliding on snow vs running with extra weight of the snowshoe. I wanted to ski hard but I was running out of gas so I focused on some small goals;
• Catch Laura
• Maintain my technique
• Push it on the up hills
• Hold off Hillary

I passed Laura with in 5 minutes and maintained my technique. I climbed up a longer hill knowing I'd have a rest on the other side. I bombed down the hill and half way down my left ski got caught in the rib of the corduroy. I tried my best to hold it together but I couldn't. My legs split and I must have looked like Bambi on ice. I went down and sprawled out everywhere, I actually laughed at myself.

My first thought was being in the way of the next skier. I quickly glanced up the hill and saw no one. I tried to get up really fast but my pole was under my ski and it slid down the shaft 3 times before I realized it. Then still in a panic, I tried to pull my pole out but the basket was caught under my ski. After 3 attempts and looking up hill I had stop the adrenaline and break it down. I took a deep breath and said to myself "lift up your leg so you can move your pole, now move your pole on the other side of your ski and stand up." This all happened so fast I was probably only down for less than a minute but it seemed more like five. Luckily no one came down the hill. I got up and continued on trying to gain my composure. 

I was holding Hillary off but I had no idea what my gap was. I pushed it when I could and made it back to the field. I glanced back once before the bridge 200 yds to the finish line and didn't see her. I gave it my all and crossed the finish line in 1:18:26. Hillary came across in 1:22:27.

I slowed to a stop and hung my head trying to regain my breath. I found Regina and gave her a hug and started crying. When I have difficulties in a race and give 110% I loose it and cry because I am proud of myself, I am exhausted, I am happy it's over and I am stronger. Mixed emotions get the best of me and crying usually wins the battle.
I cheered Hillary in and went inside to change for my cool down ski. I put my skis back on and began to shake I guess I didn't put enough layers on. Gina noticed this and ran back inside to get my puffy. I skied for five minutes and couldn't feel my fingers so I turned around and went back inside to warm up, drink my recovery drink and elevate my legs.

I learned so much from this race:
• Being 2:00 behind and not getting caught up in trying to run faster when it's not my pace.
• Knowing I can push myself a little harder, I wanted to give up on the ungroomed snowshoe portion but I didn't.
• Problem solving and staying in control of my race and trying not to worry about anyone else who I can't control.

After awards and more stretching Regina and I had lunch across the way at Bretton Woods Alpine and visited my friend Megan.

When I got home I had a 30 minute easy spin to help my legs recover a bit more and I was still chilled.

Online results here

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