Tuesday, January 20, 2009

snowshoe double - with double (j)

The last snowshoe double I did was last years Cobble Mountain/Curly’s weekend. Well, I’m a year older and it shows. Double-J and I headed out to Adams on Saturday morning, giving ourselves plenty of time to get there without rushing. You never know what the roads are going to be like, but we had no trouble arriving a little ahead of schedule (and right behind Laurel). It was just above zero as we QUICKLY registered and got back into the warm car.

With the “standard” 50 minutes before race time we headed out to warm up. Everything takes longer at a snowshoe race, especially changing gear and never more so than when there are no indoor facilities. Most of the WMAC races are old school style with no indoor facilities due to the remote (and usually beautiful) locations. JJ and I did an easy three miles on the road that circles the Greylock glen. The air was clear and brutally cold but the view of the summit was spectacular.

I quickly changed into race gear, which for this race was the Atlas “bumble-bee” outfit and my direct mount Tubbs 10k snowshoes. I headed out for another 10 minutes of running and a few strides to shake things out while Jim did whatever he does before a race (mostly that is complaining about how lousy he feels). I found out just before the start that the course would be completely different from the other versions of the Glen course. Too bad, I really liked the old course, but I heard that a beaver pond had sprung up and made the old loop unusable. The description of the new course sounded interesting. It would be about 1.5 miles of climb then 2.4 miles of mostly downhill on snowmobile trails. That would suit me fine, I like a tough climb.

The field was the best assembled so far this year with Justin Fyffe the strongest road runner in the group making his debut. Ben Nephew, Matt Cartier, Tim Mahoney, Tim Van Orden and Jim Johnson all could mix it up in the front. I felt that my best strategy would be to get out well before we hit the single-track and try to do as much damage on the climb. I’m not known for my descents so I’d need every second I could get on the climb.

Over 70 runners gathered around the gazebo and after a few thankfully brief instructions we were off. Ben went right to the front with Justin and Jim right behind. Matt was next with Tim Mahoney right behind him and me slightly back. Dang! I thought I was really moving in the first snowmobile section but the guys were already pulling away. I sprinted around Tim just as we got onto the single-track and then around Matt soon after. I was hammering as fast as I could go and it just looked like the top three were moving with no effort at all.

Justin moved to the front on the first climb and eased away from Ben. Jim looked like he was having some trouble and took a couple of spills on the first steep section. I fell on that section as well as I hit some ice. Matt was right behind me and offered some encouragement. Mostly I was encouraged by still being able to see Justin and Ben, and Jim was in low gear and coming back. He actually pulled off the trail and stopped when I caught him. I hoped he was okay, but didn’t spare any oxygen to say anything (I was hurting too bad). I hit the mile in 8:40 and the top 1.5 mile sign in 15:30, so it took nearly 7 minutes to do the half mile of tough climb. That hurt!

The downhill was great, I felt like I was flying. It was my kind of descent, nothing too steep and no twists, and it was all great footing on snowmobile trail. For the most part I kept Ben in sight (on the long straights) but soon I heard talk behind me. I could see Matt out of the corner of my eye on a turn and then noticed that Jim was right with him. He had recovered well and was chewing up the downhill. Jim came by soon after and asked “how far?” I said two and a half and a few strides later saw the 2.5 mile sign, so I was pretty accurate. Unfortunately for Jim he told me afterwards that he was asking how far to go, so my info wasn’t making sense to him. To quote Marisa Tomei I was “dead on balls accurate”.

In the last ½ mile or so, Justin began to run out of gas and Ben began to close on him. At the same time Jim was closing on both. They ended up crossing the line in that order with only 14 seconds between the three. I kept Matt close but couldn’t quite reel him in as he took fourth four second ahead of me. CMS had a strong showing taking 6 of the top 7 and 7 of the top 9. Jim mentioned to Matt how good he’d look in a CMS singlet but he didn’t seem to take the bait.

There wasn’t much time stand around in wet gear with the temps still in the single digits. Jim and I quickly changed and headed out for another 3 miles on the road, with Justin along. He noted that during one of his 4:30 am runs this week it was 18 below zero, which made today seem comfortable! Jim took a bad spill on the warm-down, I guess we should have used a traction device on our shoes. Live and learn.

After getting some hot cocoa and some cookies we beat feet for Lanesborough. The short drive was made a bit longer due to a closed road cutting across the flank of Mt Greylock. We scouted out the old Brodie mountain ski area (Snowy Owl) but there didn’t seem to be a good place to park. We parked just outside of the entrance and changed clothes once again. I had hoped to hike up in about 45-50 minutes then run down in 10-15 minutes. I felt a bit tired but not dead-on-my-feet. Jim tends to move a bit more slowly than me (except when racing). He takes FOREVER to change clothes and complains the entire time. Unfortunately I’m still not sure when he is serious or not. For example, he told me he was really hung over and he complained about it all day. Later on during the trip he told me he hadn’t done any drinking at all.

Anyway, we hiked up Brodie Mountain starting at 1,400’ and gaining 1,200’ in 1.5 miles. The early going was the steepest going right up the ski slope, and then we hit a nice 4-wheel drive road that was much more gentle. Jim didn’t seem to have as much fun as I did. The conditions were perfect, it was cold but there was no wind and it was sunny although the clouds were closing in. We hit the top in 58 minutes and then spent 11 minutes on the tower which had a glass enclosed cab. The outside was coated in a couple of inches of ice which made the going a little tricky. There were some great views which definitely made it worthwhile. We quickly made our descent via a ski lift which was a lot of fun. There was a good 6” of powder covering the crusty base which was fine for shuffling down the slope. We were back at the car in 32 minutes, for a total trip of 2.9 miles with 1,200 climb and descent in 1:41

We headed for Albany to our hotel and some rest. Jim went on and on about how he set a course record and ran something like 22 minutes for five miles and how they probably don’t use the course anymore because everyone would be depressed at how slow their times were compared to his. He also went on and on about how slow I ran on the descent and how good he is compared to me. It was all true so I couldn’t really argue. I got us a room at the Hilton specifically because it had an indoor pool and (I hoped) a whirlpool. It did and soon after checking in we settled in for 20 minutes of hydro-therapy. After dinner I was ready to call it a night, but Jim ended up staying up ‘til all hours. Something about the room being cold, I don’t know where that came from. I slept with just a sheet and had the blanket thrown on the floor. I guess I never knew how delicate Jim is J

Race day #2 dawned with snow, which was something of a surprise. I had some hotel room coffee then some “lobby” coffee which ranks well below Dunkin’s but way above Starbucks. The drive to the race was very short and probably the funniest moment of the trip was Jim’s reaction to the snowman at the turn into the school. I dropped off my five extra pair of snowshoes (for loaners) and we headed out for a three mile warm-up. Jim noted many times that I was running “like and old man”, I had to keep reminding him that I am an old man! Racing the day after a race is much harder as you get older. I was already hurting just trying to get loose. We hit the gym and changed gear again; I went with a tights top and CMS technical long sleeve and a single pair of tights on my legs. Both choices were probably one layer short of what would have been comfortable. I did another mile on the trail and headed for the line.

An amazing 173 runners were lined up and nearly half of them had never done a snowshoe race before. Jim planned on going out behind Josh Merlis (the RD and last years winner). I hoped to just stay on my feet and get through the race. We started with a loop around the field that was all powder. It was wild as snow was flying everywhere and you couldn’t see at all! Jim went right to the front and had a lead by the end of the first 300m. I was back in 6th place and quickly made my way around a couple of fast starters. I could see Josh in front and his teammate further in front. The last time I saw Jim was on the power line about a mile into the race and he was already nearly a minute ahead of me. So much for sitting behind Josh J

Jim cruised to an easy 2 minute victory on a course that was definitely good for him (flat and fast). I stayed in fourth the entire way and except for long straight-aways couldn’t see anyone else. I was pretty much dead tired by the finish. Jim seemed to still have a lot of energy so we headed out for 2 miles before we got too cold to move. My gas tank was pretty much on empty by this point. We hung out for the awards ceremony where a lot of WMAC folks did well in age groups. Then it was off for a town-bagging adventure.

The final stop would be at the Pelham and Belchertown line where we’d get 3 miles and bag two towns. Jim swore that I never mentioned anything about a mountain or a tower at this site, but I’m sure I did. We parked at the edge of a driveway after scouting out a trail that seemed to go to the tower. The owner was nice enough to allow us to park on the edge of his property while we did the short run to the tower. It was something of a bonus to get part of the run in on the M & M trail. I’ve run parts of it in Agawam, Westfield, etc. but any time I can tower bag and town bag AND trail run at the same time is a major bonus.

The run was a gently climbing jog up the M & M to the Mt Lincoln fire tower. We both used Kathoola’s instead of snowshoes and they worked fine. We spent a few minutes on top checking out the view then ran down the access road and looped back to the car for a 24 minute run in both towns. This was a great way to finish the weekend (for me at least, I’m still not sure how Jim felt about all of this). This was also a rare treat as I’ve done almost all of my town bagging alone.

Totals for the weekend:
2 races – 5th place and 4th place (top 40+ in both)
2 fire towers (I’ve now visited 38 of the 55 towers in Mass)
2 Mass towns (I’ve now visited 320 of the 351 towns in Mass)
double-j & double-d on Mt Lincoln

In all 23 hardy folk did both races (nearly 1/3 of the field from Greylock!)
Edward Alibozek
David Boles
Joe Bouck
Ken Clark
Laura Clark
Jeff Clark
Bob Dion
Larry Dragon
Dave Dunham
Martin Glendon
Bill Glendon
Jessica Hageman
Jim Johnson
Konrad Karolczuk
Mike Lahey
Jodie Lahey
Brian Northan
Jan Rancatti
Laurel Shortell
Richard Teal
Chelynn Tetreault
Stephanie Willie
Chris Winslow

Next weekend will be another double with the Hoot toot and whistle 5k snowshoe on Saturday and Curly’s record run 4m snowshoe on Sunday. I’m hoping to also finish off the last three towns in Western Mass (Mt Washington, Sheffield, and New Marborough) and maybe bag a couple of fire towers as well.



#1 - Dunkin Donuts Coffee
#2 - Random Hotel Coffee
#3 - Starbucks???
What are you - a communist? Ok, I changed my mind - Starbucks sucks.
Love, Richard "Stumptown Coffee-snob" Bolt.

DoubleJ said...

Rich, I feel I know you as well as Dave by now...He CAN NOT stop talking about you... This past weekend was 2 full days worth of 'Rich Bolt said this....Rich Bolt did this...Rich and I once ran this...etc.'. He even at one point gave me the.... 'I know Rich Bolt...and you sir, are no Rich Bolt'. I'm not kidding. I know all of your PRs, course records, etc. I guess the good news is that Dave can now vicariously live through you.

- JJ

double-d said...

The funny thing is I really did say "I know Rich Bolt and you sir are no Rich Bolt".

You two together on a run or hike would be a lot of fun!

Scott "PHAT" Graham said...


Doing a double of road racing is one thing but doing a double snowshoe is a whole different way of bursting your lungs. Great Job!!

I was at Beaver Brook SS race last Saturday. Rob Smith ended up taking the gold. The course was mostly flat and fast. However if you trip and fall after just two strides it knocks the wind out of your sails, which I did of course. Ended up 6th over all.

I'm really busy with the Fam this weekend but Hope to see you up at Cobble Mtn the next weekend to defend your title.

double-d said...

No go on Cobble, I'm directing the Northfield Mtn race that day. Stay on your feet Scotty!