Throwback Thursday: Snowboarding at Northampton Park

I previously posted some reflections from my first snowboarding season, however there was one time before the 2014-2015 winter season that I had attempted to figure out this thing called snowboarding, and that was a seldom-mentioned night in March 2013. Since my partner and a couple of his friends were still very new to snowboarding, and therefore not quite ready to make the trek out to Bristol Mountain, a bunch of us had the idea to purchase an inexpensive “lift ticket” at Northampton Park in Brockport, NY. The ski hill at Northampton Park is pretty rudimentary – featuring only one gradual ski slope and a single rope tow lift. Despite the lack of exciting features, the low price tag of $12 for open ski and $15 rentals makes it a nice place for those who just want to give downhill snow sports a whirl – like us!

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Since most of us had never even attempted snowboarding before, and my partner – the lifelong skier – had only tried it once or twice, it was pretty much the blind leading the blind. I couldn’t figure out how to even maneuver on a snowboard, let alone make my way down the short, easy slope without falling. The most challenging part for me, however, was learning how to successfully ascend the hill using the rope tow. It wasn’t as easy as the little kids made it look! Once I was able to finally get myself back up to the top of the hill, I managed to get in a handful of runs – and one time I made it almost all the way down without falling. To me, that was a success!

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Inexpensive rental equipment with step-in bindings.

Even though I was atrociously clueless and clumsy on a snowboard that night, it made me want to learn how to do it right. I quickly realized that a lesson from a professional instructor was probably going to be the best way for me to get started in snowboarding – and I’m glad that’s something I eventually pursued. So far in Western New York this December has been incredibly mild and unseasonably warm, with absolutely no snow in sight. I’m aching for the chance to get on my board again and continue to work on my skills – whether it’s somewhere low-cost and nearby like Northampton Park or a more expensive, faraway ski resort.

Have you ever been embarrassingly bad at something new? Don’t worry, I have too! Tell me about it in the comments below!

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Snow Cheap Winter Trail Series – Race 1

This year I decided to go ahead and register for the entire Snow Cheap Winter Trail Race Series, and the first race took place tonight at Cobbs Hill Park in Rochester, NY. It was a very comfortable 46 degrees fahrenheit, and although there was no snow – despite the name of the race series – it was a beautiful night to run some trails.

Tonight’s course was a single lap through the park, first making our way around the big hill before ascending into the single-track trails. There were some easy, grassy flat sections and some technical trail sections with rocks, roots and logs. Running these types of trails at night, with only the light of your headlamp, definitely makes it a bit more challenging. However that’s part of the fun of this race series.

What also makes this trail race series so fun is the unpredictability of each course. Sometimes the folks at Fleet Feet Sports Rochester like to keep things interesting, as tonight’s race took runners up and down a giant (and I mean huge) leaf pile in the parking lot of the park just before the finish line. You can’t help but laugh when you’re climbing up a massive pile of rotting leaves (oh, the smell!) on your way to the finish.

 The post-race party was casual and fun, with raffles for exciting prizes like baby carrots and marshmallows! This event does not take itself seriously, so runners should be prepared with headlamps and a sense of humor. I’m looking forward to the five remaining races this winter – keep your fingers crossed for some snow soon!

Have you ever tried a low-key trail race like this before? Would you? Tell me about it in the comments below!

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“It’s a Wonderful Run” 5K

For the second year, my mom and I participated in the festive “It’s a Wonderful Run” 5k. This USATF Certified 5k race is a part of the “It’s a Wonderful Life” Festival in Seneca Falls, NY – believed to be the inspiration behind the movie’s fictional town of Bedford Falls.

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Poster art from the film. Copyright belongs to the distributor, RKO Pictures, the publisher or graphic artist.

While the connection between Seneca Falls and Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” has never been officially confirmed, the town has dubbed itself “The Real Bedford Falls” due to the undeniable similarities. For one weekend every December, the town transforms into the 1940s-era fictional town to celebrate the holidays and the movie’s themes of small-town life, success and failure, and most importantly, friends and family.

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The Gould Hotel turns into Martini’s bar in reference to the film.

The race begins at 4:40 pm, right around sunset, and takes runners through the historic town illuminated by Christmas lights and holiday displays. The starting line is on the famous Bridge Street Bridge, which takes the name “George Bailey Bridge” for the event as a nod to the film. The atmosphere is festive and Christmassy, and despite drawing over 4,000 registered runners this year, one can’t help but feel like they are a part of a small-town family community.

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Approaching the “George Bailey Bridge” at the start of the 5k.

Along the 3.1 mile course, historic homes are decorated for the season and front lawns are filled with spectators having bonfires and cheering on the runners and walkers – everyone wishing “Merry Christmas” as you pass by. One home even offered participants shots of beer and Baileys Irish Cream – an appropriate choice given the event’s theme!

Since my mom and I are both big fans of the movie, we decided to make the event a new mother-daughter holiday tradition. Last year was my mom’s first time running a 5k and I set a new personal best for the distance. This has been an off year for my running, so rather than trying for a new PR, I decided to use the race time to spend with my mom. I’m glad I did, as I had great time encouraging her to push herself while taking in the joyous event. I can run a 5k any time I want, but time spent with family is precious and priceless. After all, that was Frank Capra’s message in “It’s a Wonderful Life” and a valuable lesson during the holidays and all year long.

Dear George:-
Remember no man is a failure who has friends.
Thanks for the wings!
Love,
Clarence

Do you have any special holiday traditions? Share them in the comments below! If you enjoy reading, please subscribe via email to keep up-to-date with my adventures and happenings!

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Throwback Thursday: Snow Cheap Winter Trail Race Series

 

After getting bit by the trail running bug a few years ago, I decided to try my hand (or feet?) at winter trail running. Fleet Feet Sports and YellowJacket Racing put on a winter trail race series each year called Snow Cheap Winter Trail Series, and in January 2013 I decided to give it a try.

 

The series features 6 nighttime trail races at Cobbs Hill Park in Rochester, NY. Each race varies a bit in distance, but promises a challenging (usually hilly) course between two and four miles. Because the races take place at night in the dark, headlamps are required for all runners.

Snow Cheap January 2013

This was not only my first time racing in the winter, it was also my first nighttime trail race. Although the trails are heavily congested during the first part of the race, once everyone settles into their pace and some distance opens up between runners the trails can become a peaceful winter wonderland.

 

The races go on as planned regardless of the weather (unless there is a state of emergency), and in Rochester that can mean fluffy snow at one race and muddy trails two weeks later. I got a nice taste of this variety in 2013, when I participated in three of the six events. The first race featured knee-deep fresh powder snow, and the last one I attended was a mucky, muddy mess. Whatever the conditions, the atmosphere is always a lot of fun and the post-race party is a great way to warm up in the lodge. I’m looking forward to registering for the entire series this winter and hoping for some snowy, wintry weather!

Do you enjoy winter trail running? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Reflections From My First Snowboarding Season

Here in Western New York the winters tend to be long and snowy. For those who don’t enjoy winter sports it can be quite dreadful. Before last winter, I was one of those people. I didn’t grow up skiing like many people in Upstate New York, so I really missed out on some of the best winter recreation available. After having ACL reconstruction surgery following injuries in both of my knees, skiing made me very nervous.

Snowboarding

For some reason, though, snowboarding always piqued my interest and seemed better-suited for my skills (and clumsiness). The first winter dating my partner, a lifelong skier and ski racer, also happened to be his first winter snowboarding. He was a natural and eventually snowboarding completely replaced skiing as his go-to winter activity. Fast-forward to the 2014-2015 winter ski/snowboard season and he was ready to get me out on the mountain with him.

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Riding the Sunset Chairlift at night is beautiful and serene.

We purchased a ski club package, offered through Rochester Young Professionals, that provided 12 weeks of Tuesday night twilight lift tickets at nearby Bristol Mountain. Since my partner gets a season pass at Bristol Mountain every year, we agreed to go each Tuesday after work from mid-December to early March.

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All smiles after my first snowboarding lesson!

One of the biggest selling points of this package was that it included a group lesson each night, if desired. I took advantage of this option a couple times and, because I was the only snowboarder interested in a lesson on those nights, the group lessons actually turned into one-on-one lessons with a snowboard instructor. This was incredibly valuable, especially when I was first getting started. My partner was also able to provide helpful tips and instruction, though his patience turned out to be equally as beneficial as his knowledge.

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Snowboarding with this guy makes winter a lot more fun!

Challenges of my first snowboarding season:

  • A collision with a skier who slammed into me from behind, causing severe lower back pain and bruising that lasted for weeks.
  • Getting the right equipment and gear – I had never even skied before!
  • Trying to master the toe side turn without catching an edge – I fell a lot.
  • Getting over my own fear of falling and crashing.
  • Getting easily frustrated with myself, and taking it out on my very patient, very loving partner!

Highlights of my first snowboarding season:

  • Finally getting my heel side and toe side turns!
  • Improving my technique and increasing my confidence.
  • Acquiring a few favorite trails. By the end of the season I was most comfortable on blue square trails.
  • Getting to experience all types of snow conditions for the first time: fresh powder, packed snow, slush, etc.
  • The Morning Star Cafe aka The Waffle Hut. I’m not ashamed of how much I enjoyed this yummy mid-mountain treat!
  • Spring snowboarding in 60-degree weather in April!
  • Bonding with my partner in a new way that brought us closer than ever.

Check out this highlight reel of my partner’s snowboarding videos from last season:

Overall it was an amazing winter and I learned that my love of the mountains definitely extends to snowboarding as well. I’m already eagerly anticipating the start of the 2015-2016 season – come on, snow!

What’s your favorite winter activity? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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