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March Update from Jo Jo - One of the Tough Girl 7

Update from Jo Jo - Tough Girl 7


When we last spoke in February, we went into great detail regarding the changes I was compelled to make for my 2017 training/racing schedule. When I started penciling in dates for training/racing onto the calendar, it was obvious there was a problem.

In 2016 I traveled to Powder Mountain; Ogden, Utah to compete in the 2016 US National Snowshoe Championships. This race at 8900 feet elevation would be the third time I raced in snowshoes, so it is understandable that I had no expectation, other than an incredible weekend away in the Wasatch Mountains with my daughter, Annika.

You can imagine how surprised and thrilled I was when I was named to the 2016 US National Women’s Master Team. However, with this I was committed to compete for the United States at both the 2017 World Snowshoe Championships in Saranac Lake, New York in February and the 2017 US National Snowshoe Championships at Mount Bachelor; in Bend, Oregon in March. This in combination with my ultra marathon running schedule resulted in a top heavy 2017 calendar and changes would be necessary.

Although, ultra marathon running is my first passion, snowshoeing would be my first priority in 2017. After making the changes to the ultra marathon running schedule to accommodate the snowshoeing schedule, it was more logical to attempt to qualify for the 2018 US 50K Team. This would allow me to train and race a sub 3:33:00 for the entire year, ultimately with a new racing schedule that spans 2017. The immediate pressure would be eliminated and the training would be more tailored towards success.

Unfortunately, Maine has had little to no snow this winter and there was little to no opportunity to train in ideal conditions for snowshoeing, ugh!!! The 2017 World Snowshoe Championships were held in the United States for the first time. Saranac Lake, New York; is well known for harsh winters, cold temperatures and snow, snow and snow!!!

However, like Maine, Saranac Lake has had little to no snow this winter and the temperatures leading up to “Worlds” were 50-60 (F)/10-15.5 (C) and bright sunshine. The 2017 World Snowshoe Championships would have been cancelled had it not been for the community of Saranac Lake. The community had three courses, an A, B and C depending on the temperatures and the snow and the brilliant thinking to stock pile snow all winter.

For three days prior to the competition, the community showed up, trucked the stock piled snow, delivered it to the course in wheel barrows, shoveled and raked it onto the trail. However, the temperature during the day caused the snow to melt and ice over at night. Needless to say, the course was a mess. It was ice, rocks, roots and MUD!!!

As I warmed up, I was extremely apprehensive. I am not a technical runner and the course in this condition was not only technical, it was treacherous. I am not one to make excuses, it was the same for everyone, my plan was to place my confidence in my training and accept the results, despite the conditions.

The 2017 US National Snowshoe Championships were held at Mount Bachelor; Bend, Oregon. The flights from Portland, Maine on the east coast to Redmond, Oregon on the west coast take all day with connections in Detroit, Michigan and Salt Lake City, Utah.

Mount Bachelor was GORGEOUS, and with 10+ feet of snow at the base, there was no question the conditions would be ideal for snowshoeing. Annika and I warmed up prior to her race, the Junior Women’s 5K. The warm up served as a “peek” at the course; big beautiful pine trees, snow, snow and snow and a relentless elevation gain.

There was no doubt; it was going to be a tough race!!! The Senior Women’s 10K was a two loop course and my plan again, was to place my confidence in my training, run the first loop conservatively, “picking it up” the second loop, finishing strong. Ultimately, there was so much elevation gain and WALKING, there wasn’t much remaining and “finishing strong” was not as I had envisioned.

I have spent a tremendous amount of time processing snowshoeing, specifically the training and racing and “how” it fits into my life. Two months ago, I would have said that ultra marathon running is my passion and with “global warming” and no snow, future training could be a problem and I love the training and the results that follow the training.

I am absolutely sure with the proper conditions and proper training; including, sleep, nutrition, hydration and balance, the results could be wonderful, however, without proper conditions, the training alone felt pointless.

I contacted Dion Snowshoes and inquired about training without snow, running in Dion Snowshoes on dirt and on grass. The solution was simple, with a new snowshoe designed, but not on the market, I was asked by Dion Snowshoes to wear it at Nationals on Mount Bachelor. With a new pair of snowshoes, I replaced the “Teflon” cleat on my old snowshoes with a new “stainless steel” cleat, one that would be strong enough to train on dirt and grass year round.

I am determined, snowshoeing training and racing will from this day forward fit into my life.

“Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” Harriet Beecher Stowe


2017 Racing Schedule