Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Snowshoe Worlds: Bravery, not Perfection

My goals for 2019 are lofty. They are challenging and require grit. But I believe I can have everything I want as long as I hang in there.
Hang in there.
The longest.

Be Brave. Be Gritty. And Always Give It One More Try.

The 2019 Snowshoe World Championship was set in the breathtaking village of Val di Non.  The spectacular 8k course provided beautiful glimpses of the Dolomites and the Maddalene Mountains.

I arrived in Italy with great fitness but also carried some fatigue from a long season of racing in 4 different countries. The last 2 months had been particular exciting as I raced in 3 different arenas including a half Ironman in California, 3 new-to-me cyclocross races and now the Snowshoe World Champs in Italy.  I was feeling extremely fit and proud of my ability to compete over varied terrain.

I traveled to Italy with my friend Sarah Canney and her husband as well as the other members of the 2019 National Team.  Overall it was a fantastic trip full of the best things Italy has to offer. We indulged in espresso, red wine, croissants and explored the churches and sanctuaries in the surrounding villages.  We visited Venice, Verona, Fondo, Cavareno, and Innsbruck - phew!

My workouts leading up to race day were subpar but I how could I complain as I was running in Italy with views of the Dolimites! Feeling mentally strong also gave me confidence my legs would come around on race day.

Friday night was the Opening Ceremonies complete with a parade and fireworks. The race organization did a fantastic job and the entire night was so exciting I couldn't wait to toe the start line.  24 countries were represented and the race had a magnificent 2300 athletes!

Sarah Canney, Emily Renner and I decided to jog to the start race morning. It was a 30-degree blue bird day - life was good! We chatted about race strategy and our race agendas for 2019. Emily's big goal is to get the Olympic Qualifying Standard in the marathon and Sarah is gunning for a sub 1:30 at the Washington Road race -  and I have a strong feeling they are both going to nail those goals!

We finished our warm up, lined up and before I knew it the gun went off. My plan was to track Michelle Hummel (2018 World Champion and 3x National Champion) from the start. I ended up running with Michelle ( New Mexico) and Simonette ( France ) for 3 miles until they started to pull away.  The leggies were not feeling great but I made a promise to dig deep, be brave and bury myself. This was the last race for awhile and I wanted to feel that delicious pain of digging deep.

Simonette ( France) is in sight but about 2 minutes up on me. I had some work to do if I was going to catch her.

At around 3 mile mark I bridged the gap to Simonette. This took confidence as I was teetering on the edge and we still had a lot of racing to do.  I quickly learned that Simonette is a fighter and as soon as I ran up on her shoulder she surged ahead again.  The last 2 miles was a game of back and forth. I was stronger on the uphills and Simonette on the downhills. As much as I was hurting this was everything I dreamed of. I live for a gutsy back and forth race and I was gifted this in Italy.
The race for 4th

1500m to the finish and the start of the uphill 
Simonette was so strong and never gave up an inch

With 800m to go Simonette gaped me by 30 seconds which consequently nearly broke me.
Breathing like a horse and with lactic acid flooding my body I almost settled for 5th. Simonette was surging hard and the finish line was right around the corner.

"5th at the World Champs is good" I told myself as I gasped for air.

And then Simonette glanced behind her.

She was hurting as much as me. 

I put my head down, pumped my arms and GAVE IT ONE MORE TRY.

4th place with about 5 seconds to spare!

4th at 2019 Snowshoe World Champs!

Team USA scored a 2nd place!

Proud of this one, but seriously, NO MORE 4th in 2019!

My good friend Nacho ( Spain ) 4th overall for Males!

Grazie Infinite to all my sponsors/partners/team for allowing me to chase my racing dreams around the world!
Tom Raffio/Delta Dental
Kurt Perham
Velocio Apparal
Rudy Project
Infinit Nutrition
Juice Performer
Trigger Pin
Runner's Alley
MC Cycle and Sport
Dion SnowShoes

Oh Italy, I will be BACK!