Frosty the snowman knew the sun was hot that day
So he said, “Let's run and have some fun before I melt away.”
Down to the village with a broomstick in his hand
Running here and there all around the square
Saying “Catch me if you can.”
Frosty was the only thing remotely snowy at this year’s Brave the Blizzard. Even so, he put his game face on and managed to make the best of a less than ideal situation. Before he melted away, he discovered the joys of constructing sand castles in the playground, emerging from his new experience satisfied, but slightly discolored. Then, trying to enhance an awkward, snowless start, he culled lingering patches of snow to toss into the air over the snowshoe-less participants…
Sir Thomas escorted Shaun Donegan and me to Tawasentha Park, the new venue. Turned out he was the lucky car to be in as Shaun and I both placed first overall in the 5.5 miler. Which definitely bodes well for future trips. In fact, I may have hopeful candidates clamoring for his services!
Brave the Blizzard has traveled all over the Capital Region in a mostly unsuccessful search for snow. First Pinebush, Then Guilderland Elementary and now Tawasentha Park. I was excited to revisit Tawasentha, the site of Bob Oates’ August Monday Night Trail Series where my cross country daughter, Jill, prepped for the fall season, trying to pretend that she had been training throughout the entire summer. Each week the course of indeterminate distance varied slightly but always featured the infamous roped water crossing, a vengeful swarm of ground bees and panicked deer or two. Might as well have been August all over again, with trampled fields and slick mud. This suspicion was confirmed when one participant arrived on his bike exclaiming, “This is the first time I ever rode my bike to a snowshoe race!” Not only were we showcased a new venue, but we had a new race director, Claire Watts,
and a new distance—a 5K or a 5.5 mile option. Before, BTB ranged from 5K to about 4 miles, but only those equipped with a GPS had any real clue. As with most other ARE productions, we were officially timed for participating in an event we weren’t actually running---in this case, the Fort Bragg 10 Miler. Some of us even had other names, but I was just plain old Bib #7, leftover from some highly ranked person who never showed. I wasn’t sure if this was lucky, with #7 having all sorts of rabbit’s foot connotations, but I was a willing believer.
Again, typical of ARE, both options begin together and then branch off, with the first few miles being a rather tame version of what was in store for the longer distance folks. In the beginning, we mostly traveled across a golf course setting, which should have been easy except that Alice-like we were traversing on a slant over grass anchored to unstable muddy ground. The real fun began as the 5.5 milers took the fork less traveled. It was as if we had crossed some invisible boundary and the terrain transformed into a steep, muddy challenge. Luckily, Sir Thomas got us to the park in record time so Shaun, with energy to spare, had a chance to survey the route. We had both brought multiple pairs of options, except that Shaun, being a guy, fit all of his into his backpack, while mine sprawled all over the back seat of the car. Shaun recommended spikes and we turned out to be among the few entrants not wearing naked trail shoes. This was one of the best moves we could have made as the mud was as slippery as ice and well-suited to icespikes. But what made it so much fun was the fact that you could skate along the surface with no danger of shoe-sucking mud. In fact, this was as close as we could get to a snowshoe feel without actual snow.
Heading back over the bridge and into the barn I was feeling strong. Josh was there to greet the returning runners and he shouted, “Laura, if you’ve never won a race before, this is your day. Naturally, I sped up even though I was pretty sure there were no other women behind me. In fact, I was fairly positive I was the only woman, but after an hour or so of running, what did I know? It was a thrill to cross the finish, although, with the concurrent start of the 5K and 5.5 miler no one really knew I was the winner. At the awards, I whispered to Claire not to mention that I was the only woman. She agreed, but in a later email said she would have commented that “I was the only woman BRAVE enough to take on the 5.5 mile course.” I liked her perspective a lot better than mine!
And now the rest of the story… This was a victory despite two rookie mistakes. Not only did I neglect to pack a sorely needed pair of dry socks, but I failed to look at my shoes before I put them on my feet. My toe plates were scuffed into oblivion, my soles resembled a peeling onion and the side panel was literally hanging on by a thread. I had been wondering why my feet seemed to be so cold whenever I wore my spikes but credited it to the fact that I could not wear thick socks with these smaller-sized shoes. Not so. They were in fact more like Born to Run sandals. I was just grateful Coach Couch wasn’t there to critique my gear choice!
By laura clark