2013 Peak Snowshoe Challenge and a big old steaming cup of CRAZY

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Locked and Loaded!

Peer pressure. That’s how I got wrapped up in a crazy ass snowshoe race in Pittsfield, Vermont yesterday- The Peak Snowshoe Challenge. I have this amazing little sprite of a badass friend who posted a link and a “Ok. Who else of you crazies is in?!” on Facebook. (I should also add she’s an Ultra Runner and blogger. She’s also fabulous. But I digress…) You know how that goes. Race Peer Pressure. Thats all it takes. The mighty power of suggestion. Who’s in!? Suddenly I’m all “Dude! I’m in!!!” Suddenly, I’ve registered for a half-marathon on snowshoes in Vermont. Suddenly, I have a knot in my stomach with “Who the hell do I think I am?” written all over it.

How many times have I raced in snowshoes? 0.00.
How many times have I actually been on snowshoes? 1.0.
Insane, yet ambitious.

The dust settles and I realize that the 10k “Fun Run” is more “appropriate” pre-Big Sur Marathon. Nothing like a novel adventure to blow out a knee or twist an ankle. (Be smart Colby. It doesn’t mean you’re a wuss.) I come to my senses, and downgrade. I still haven’t read a lick about the course, but, I’m in! And that’s all that matters.

I learn on the drive up that I am running 1 loop (whatever that means). Ok. Cool. How bad can that be? No sweat. The 1 loop is 6.5 miles in the Green Mountains of Vermont. On snowshoes. And has 1200′ vertical. That’s the “Fun Run.” There’s also a Half- Marathon (2 loops), a Full Marathon (4 loops) and an Ultra (Fruit Loops) which had a 36 hour cut off. (Yes. They started the day before.) I learn Peak Races sponsors a “Death Race”. I want to turn around. (Nope. No. Way. I’m in!!!)

Off we go to the start. Me, My Fabulous Ultra Running Friend and her my new friend Another Ultra Runner. (Christ. This joint is crawling with Crazies.) Coffee, power bar, register, strap in. It’s snowing. It’s beautiful. It’s a big stinking mountain. I declare that I have zero expectations. I just don’t want to finish last. Or get hurt. And then I hear it.

Girls giggling.
In costumes.

While I have no aversion to giggling girls or tutus (I am/have both), I’m not a fan of them this particular morning. I lock eyes with my friend. She reads my mind: You are beating the Giggling Girls. It went from “Fun Run” to “Bitch, Game On!” with a single giggle. Now I’m really ready. My friends are off-and taking no prisoners- on their half-marathon adventure! (Double checking prior that they weren’t registered for the full marathon. See? Peer Pressure will getcha.) I’m off next. There’s a slew of people. Giggling Girls are within earshot. 3-2-1. Go!

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And away I go!

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This is what 1200′ vertical looks like. (Gulp!)

Holy. Shit.

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Such great fun. Excellent race. Stellar time.

In all of my life I have never done anything as difficult as this. I wonder if my Ultra Friends think the same. (Answer: They do. Phew!) Climb? A Sherpa would have cringed. Almost all-fours steep. For miles. Single track. Switchbacks. Wicked technical. And up, up, I go. Running as much as I possibly can. I was The Telltale Heart. TILT! Redlining. I will not stop moving. Finally it “levels” rolling along through the “Labyrinth”, an absolutely beautiful section through the pines, winding back and forth. It’s shady, like a place you would play hide and seek in when you were little. Quiet and peaceful, I feel alive. I am having fun. I am running. Huge, huge smile.

What goes up must come down. Yeah, you got it Newton. Steep. Downhill. Trees. Off-camber. I am at times completely out of control. Borderline avalanche material. Running downhill, navigating trees and switchbacks on snowshoes. I let out a Whoop! Laughing at how ridiculously exhilarating this is. My quads don’t think so. They’re giving me the finger. Neither do my bloody ankles which have been shredded from the narrow single track. Ouch. Tears in my eyes. It’s just a flesh wound. I’m almost done! So what I’ve run into a tree? I didn’t fall. Or stop. Mission almost accomplished. I listen for The Giggling Girls…

Nothin’.

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Mission Accomplished!

I finish 3rd in my age group (!!!) Proud. Happy. Exhilarated. Thrilled that I succumbed to Race Peer Pressure and tried something completely ridiculous new. This year is all about getting uncomfortable- pushing myself out of my comfort zone. Only then can you change. Evolve even. Oh I’m uncomfortable all right. And am lovin’ every damn minute of it.

Next year I’ll have another Big Old Cup of Crazy please. With a side of Half-Marathon.

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Peer Pressure: Carly, Colby and Gary. Thanks Guys!!!

Words of wisdom far off the grid…

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That’s where I was with no Wifi and 0.5 bars when I should have been blogging my Maracane 2012 race recap. I get a pass right? I spent the weekend in Grafton Vermont. Grafton is one of those little quintessential Vermont towns where you envision yourself holed up in quaint house with a porch and a sprawling view, writing The Great American Novel (or some sort of Manifesto if you’re into that.) It’s beautiful. It’s tranquil. It’s deafeningly quiet. Unwind and get lost running. Or. Grab your girlfriends and your sister and get drunk hiking!

Grafton Ponds Outdoor Center offers a wine and cheese hike each weekend. If you’re out there, go. It’s fantastic. In winter you trade your hiking boots for snowshoes. Kick ass work out. The wine and cheese stays gloriously the same. You can also cross country ski and mountain bike there which is killer. Great spot.

Our guide was Bill, an 8th generation Vermonter. Bill was definitely one of the more interesting cats I’ve met in a while. Ultra marathoner (top 15 at the Vermont 100- Dude is no joke!) logger, world traveler, wrangler, 30 year off the grid live-er, insane trail runner, quirky, interesting guy. Bill also can no longer run. He needs new knees. (“It’s like sucking the marrow from my bones. People who don’t run, don’t understand. It’s my life.”) He became more interesting after our 2 hour hike, 3+ glass of wine and 1/2 pound of cheddar.

We got to talking about running again while warming up in front of the fire. I told him how the thought of running a 50k keeps giving me pause. But I wasn’t sure. He said you just ran a marathon right? Yes. And so what? You DON’T THINK YOU CAN RUN 4 MORE STINKING MILES? Come ON. Do it. Register. Don’t think. Just do. The problem is we think too much. JUST RUN IT.

Huh. Sometimes the simple words of a stranger can resonate so clearly. Stop over analyzing. Just do.

Then Vermont Yoda topped off my glass and we silently toasted….