February 23, 2011

Granite State Snowshoe Races: Horse Hill and Beaver Brook

After what feels like an eternity, I’m easing back into running. It feels good. Yes, please, I'll take it... no matter how short or long it may be.

This season, I ran some snowshoe races as a member of the Dungeon Rock Racing team. While these are “races,” I am not in any condition to run faster than "to finish" with a smile and a quickened heart beat. Thus, for me, Feel Good Farm, Horse Hill, and Beaver Brook snowshoe races were three "quit riding the pine and get out there" training runs with much needed pushes, and of course the social outlet!

The snow conditions at Horse Hill were excellent—even the looser snow that just made me work harder.  It’s been two years since I ran the Horse SS. Steve Wolfe designed a great new course; alas, he must’ve missed my memo to please "avoid that tough climb up Horse Hill"....errr, then what would we call the race, miss smarty pants?  

I did well not to keel over in need of CPR on the hands-to-my-knees ascent. I must have blocked that hill from my memory when I ran here in 2009. But the nightmare of that incline recalled like a two-year-old big bologna sandwich.
This was my first run since Feel Good Farm a month earlier and I could feel my limit come and go with approximately one mile remaining. (Got to start back somewhere!) I dug deeper and stoked my running sticks with some mental positive thinking. The last ½ mile was open and flattish. I had a lot of kick along that stretch, which lead me to believe I could have worked harder out there. I was sorry to miss the Martha’s Exchange outing of laughs and libations with the Turtles!

Horse Hill SS Race Start
Photo credit: Gianina Lindsey 
More of her photos HERE

The 2011 course was amazing (minus the snow-naked stretch of Dion-damaging bare asphalt —boohiss). Wolfe was also behind the new course design, minus the two day thaw!  Its varied terrain was playfully challenging. It was also a bit longer than 5k at approx. 3.3 miles versus the “so-last-year” shorter 2.9 mile out-and-back course.  

I loved the rollers, mostly single track trail, small bridge and water crossings, hugging the edge of a pond, and zigzags through the woods. 

But, no beavers, alas, they must be busy... 


The Beaver Brook began bitterly with a mean wind ripping through my shirt and up my skirt.  woot'n-bbrrr. I spent less time socializing than I wished and more time in my car warming/waiting. BUT a major plus was that I got to share that time and chat with ultra-runner friend, Melanie! She was sweet to come and visit!

Time was too-short and I lined up behind some other Stone Cat friends at the back of the pack. I heat up like a teakettle—low-on-water—so I was more than toasty in five minutes. 
Yes, I AM a little tea pot...

I met up with some folks from DRR, Dan, Elaine, Patrick and Tula (woof). I hope next year I get to know these folks better, perhaps through more training at The Lynn Woods. Also I hope this new course will be used for a trail run there post snowshoe season.  
It’s always a joy to see the Turtles! Two Beaver Tails-Up to Scott and his teammates. Good times. 
Cheerful quote from Bill Howard upon my 
crossing the BB finish line:
“Alright, you did it! Another finish.”
(Above) Bill Howard and me, a beaver sock totin' TUGger.
Two (above) Photo Credits: Scott Mason

Indeed, another finish!
It’s a start.

February 07, 2011


Next weekend can't come soon enough. 
I long to strap on my snowshoes and trek the 400+ acre tract I affectionately nickname the "North 40." I will blaze and meander snowy terrain, randomly follow purposeful tracks, and wind my way to an untouched field. This open farmland whose farthest corners perch high on the hill with corners tucked into the hiding places along stone walls. Yes, there I will go.

Rhythmic paw prints keep score—in double-four time— across a lofty comforter of snow. Follow, turn, and pause. Two paths not yet crossing, not yet uniting. Are these merely woodland strangers or winter foe? Will heedful hare meet craving coyote? I'll never know. Before the finale, impressions retreat under rocks and fallen ash. 

I'll hurdle the rocky partition and seek easier footing along a hooved-highway for back-40 travel. Here deer tracks and dugout ditches bumper oaks for acorn delights. Above, chickadees flit and flee branches scouting for their rations. and the echoing beat of excavating woodpeckers will have long since faded. Beech tree hangs on; its tan flags fluttering.  

Why circle back too soon to the pastureland?  Winter will fold to spring and un-hem snowy edges for fray grassy trim.  Because I must; it feeds my soul. Last fall this patch was chock-full of bull. That morning the sun sparkled along nearly invisible though electrified wire—a humble barrier between me and the tail-flicking, fly-decorated, hot and horned cattle— aw, heck. 
Yes, there I shall go. 

February 04, 2011

Snow Time

When snow flakes fall, I get very excited to be outdoors.
 A Mt. Monadnock vista, 1.30.2011

Mid-January, I dabbled in some snowshoe-wogging at the Feel Good Not-so-Great Farm SS Race. With zippo running training, one loop scratched that itch. Hmm. As if that wasn't enough of a "hair sweater," I'm contemplating Horse Hill SS Race next weekend. If I'm there,  I'll  "shovel" (versus "sweep") up the Horse's you-know-what from behind. My attendance, depends on a lot of things, like my hips and legs, hiking plans, a possible xc ski excursion or even just sitting by the fire...

I was told by the specialist at Mass General to not run until March so they can see how the tug lesion has healed, if at all, and how to proceed from there. So, instead of running-training, I've been energized by using the Viper Rope Machine (a lesson in "hard"), xc skiing, hiking and snowshoeing through the woods, blazing trail or in tracks at Great Brook Farm, and missing my running friends. 

I grow excited by snow and xc skiing that I can might easily overdue it. Like today, my hip flexors ache.  After an Epsom salt soak, I'll reassess weekend outdoor adventures and probably find some snow balls and ride the flexible. I'm eager to try the I'll get some snow balls and head out on the slope slider! These would have been epic on the way down Mount Mondanock. Next time.


As a side note, I'm not sure if anyone's noticed the new-ish Epsom Salt marketing geared towards athletes? As if basic pharmacy Epsom salts aren't magical enough, marketers REV'ed it up with aromatherapy and packaging appeal. Epsom Salt is a soothing sprained and/or sore muscle soak, splinter remover, fertilizer and laxative, regardless of some bergamot and lavender essential oils. P.S. Don't drink your bath water. 

Our Mount Monadnock winter hike with was a lot easier (footing and breathing) than I expected. As a planner, I was responsibly over-prepared (smart) with winter-hiking essentials in my 16 pound pack. I am considering investing in a bivvy or solo tent for emergencies. 

My Marmot Contents: a total 16 pounds from down jacket, snowshoes, old-school crampons and Kahtoolas Microspikes (worn), space blanket/shelter, unopened hand/toe warmers, flint steel and dryer lint, war and peace hard cover, small first aid kit, gaiters, balaclava, extra hat, mittens, fleece layer (extra), toilet paper in baggy, kitchen sink, scooby snacks, water, sunscreen/lip balm, army knife, map, goggles, sun glasses, camera, cell phone and chocolate and separate emergency vials of mountain whoop-ass and arctic positive attitude.