Recap of the first half of the year by Jim Johnson
Well, the first part of the year has come and gone and it has been a mixed bag for me physically. I have been struggling with injuries since late last summer and it has caused me to scale back my training volume and my racing schedule significantly. Because of the various issues I’ve been putting up with, I have not been able to race at the level I have been racing at previously, but have been able to get in some decent efforts (just at a less frequent occurrence). I have also had my first child in the last week before the new year, which has also naturally contributed to a slight decrease in my training volume as well. However being a Dad is obviously the most awesome thing ever!
I started the year off with 7 consecutive snowshoe racing wins (6 in NH and 1 in Maine). For some reason, even when I’m injured and undertrained, I can win snowshoe races like there is no tomorrow. The wins in NH gave me my 5th consecutive Granite State Snowshoe Series championship. Included in those wins was the NH State Championship, which was over a challenging 10K single track course with one of the most competitive fields I’ve run against in a snowshoe race, short of the US Nationals. I raced in various Inov-8 shoes (inside of my racing snowshoes) during the course of the season, but really stuck to the good ole’ standby of my trusty ‘blues’ (f-lite 230s).
I also did an up and down race at Ragged Mountain in NH, which was an anything goes type of race. You could get up to the top and down to the bottom with whatever means you saw fit (as long as you come down the same method you went up). This meant that Telemark skiers and skiers with ski mountaineering gear were able to skin up and race down on skis. They were of course in a different classification than the runners. I chose to race in my Mudclaws with some additional spikes added on for extra grip on the ascent and descent of the steep ski slope. I ended up winning the runner classification but lost to 2 skiers (both passed me on the way down). I was the first one to the top and got passed by the first skier during the first minute of the descent and then was passed by the last just before the finish line.
I then found myself running a couple of longer races (2 road half marathons and a 20 mile road race) in the late Winter/early Spring, all while wearing my trusty lime green and gray road 233s. Since my injuries prevented me from doing significant road specific work, I was needless to say unprepared for these races. I fared well in only one of the half marathons, actually besting my own course record by over a full minute and winning the race for the second year in a row. The course was a difficult, rolling road course with a couple of miles of dirt road. My 1:13 was 4+ minutes off of my road PR for a half marathon (on a flatter course), but on this course that is a pretty good effort and it was a minute + better than the CR I got last year on the same course. I fared better in that race than I did in the 20 mile race (which I’ve won previously a couple years back). I led that 20 mile race for about 5 miles and ran into stomach issues around 11 miles and had to unfortunately drop, which I never like to do…especially when the RD comps your entry because you were a former winner of the race.
I then entered and won the Merrimack River Trail 10 Mile race down in Andover, MA while wearing my x-talon 212s. I was lucky enough to pull this one off with my injuries hampering my ability to do well on the technical/off-camber type of terrain. It was a difficult day, but I managed to squeak out the win on the 100% single track out-and-back course.
After the River Trail race, I found myself back on the road for another CR at a road 5k down in southern NH. I won the race (of over 2000 people) and set a CR on the rather slow, hilly, and windy course near the airport. I again wore the 233s for the effort and it was a great feeling to be around such a large group of runners who were all still reeling from the events of the Boston Marathon that had happened that previous Monday. To see a field of that size show up and rally together just days after those tragic events, and for me to be at the front of that celebration of pride and strength was amazing.
To be continued…