Stephanie Manosh: The Winter Endurance Racer
Name: Stephanie Manosh
Lives in: Johnson
Works as: Transcriber for deaf and hearing impaired
Sports: Running, snowshoeing
Growing up, Stephanie Manosh considered herself to be a bit of a computer geek. Then, the end of a bad college relationship led her to start running and a friendship with a man she calls the “Barn Beast” set her on a path to competing in ultra-distance races. This winter, she trained to complete her first 100-mile snowshoe race to raise money for Lamoille County Mental Health Services, and placed 10th at the Endurance Society’s 60K snowshoe race in Goshen on February 25.
VS: When did you run your first race?
SM: It was the 2008 Vermont City Marathon. I did it in 4:11. I never did a 5K or 10K. I started with the longer distance and then I just kept going. I have a good friend, Jason Jaksetic, “The Barn Beast” who lived in a barn in Pitts eld for a while. He is friends with Andy Weinberg who used to be associated with the Peak Races. Jason introduced me to Ultra events and started coaching me on how to run longer distances.
VS: Is that how you got involved in the Peak Snowshoe Race series?
SM: Yes, I started in 2012, again with the marathon distance. I finished in under eight hours and I really enjoyed it. A lot of people don’t want to spend time outside in winter but it was really nice to breathe that cold, fresh air. You also see things other people don’t get to see. In 2014 I saw the remains of a fox that had been taken down by coyotes. You could see the tracks and the tufts of fur in the snow. It gives you an awareness you wouldn’t have otherwise.
VS: What was next?
SM: In 2014 I did 50 miles and in 2015 I decided to do the 100-mile version, even though the only other women entering the race were doing the marathon distance. It’s really just a matter of not falling asleep and keeping your mind and body in check. Your body is pushing through but your mind might be wandering and you start to see things. They start the longer distance people first and what actually helped was the next day when the 5K and 10K racers came out. They’re full of energy and they lap you but you really feed o their energy. Their presence made me more buoyant. In the end, I did 50 miles, instead of 100. There was only one person who completed the 100-mile route that year.
VS: How did you train for those?
SM: For the VCM I downloaded a novice Hal Higdon training plan and did the best I could. I learned how to pace myself, how to fuel myself and how to avoid blisters. I had no idea what to do for nutrition while I was running so I lost a lot of weight that I wasn’t trying to lose. I’m really good at eating on the run now. Since my first snowshoe race was a marathon distance, I had a hybrid plan that included running and a lot of hiking. Hard training days were repeat summits of Camel’s Hump or heavy deadlifts or squats followed by a half marathon or longer run. For me, the training beforehand usually includes very little time on snowshoes. I’m mostly focused on increasing my endurance and getting really strong legs. When I can’t get outside I’ll hit the StairMaster in the gym with a weight vest. Sometimes I’ll simulate the feeling of a snowshoe with ankle weights. Wearing snowshoes all the time for training is hard on your body in the wrong places, especially for these distances.
VS: There’s got to be a real science to what you eat and what you wear.
SM: I’m mostly vegan so I ate a lot of dried fruits and really loaded up on nuts, particularly the ones with high fat content. I really like caffeinated Honey Stingers gels. I try to eat two every hour. Towards the end, you just eat anything you can because you’ve burned so many calories. My stomach turned into an empty pit. For clothing I start with Under Amour tights with windbreaker pants and an undershirt covered with a wool top with a hood, ice climbing gloves, ultralight down jacket and thick wool scarf. I’ve even worn my snowboarding goggles to keep my eyelids from freezing. I use lightweight, insulated North Face boots, Dion snowshoes and Darn Tough socks. On really cold days I wear a shorty overboot made by Forty Below.
VS: Do you want to try another snowshoe 100-miler?
SM: Absolutely. This year I signed up for a 60K in Goshen on February 25 which is part of the Endurance Series that Andy Weinberg started. That’s was a warm-up for the Peak race in Pittsfield on March 10. I also have a better sense of what to wear and how to train and a friend will also be running. It’s hard to do the long distance when you have to do it by yourself. I’ll be doing the race as a fundraiser for Lamoille County Mental Health Services in honor of my uncle who committed suicide after a long struggle with schizophrenia. He frequented the Oasis House in Hyde Park which is part of LCMHS.
VS: Where do you like to run?
SM: I enjoy running on trails and dirt roads, but not asphalt. I enjoy the solitude and the nature and the lack of cars. It’s also better on the joints and you get to see a lot more. I started running as an emotional outlet after a college breakup and then, after meeting the Barn Beast, I started doing endurance runs. I’ve done the Vermont 50 and a few other 50-mile races. I tried one 100-miler in the Black Hills of South Dakota but I wasn’t ready for the hills.
VS: Have you gotten faster?
SM: For me, racing has always been more about completing longer and longer distances than about speed. I’ve always been interested in how far I can go. That said, the longer I go, the faster I get at shorter distances. When I came back from South Dakota I entered a 5K race and won without ever having run that distance before. I’ve inadvertently gotten faster by pushing myself to run longer.
VS: Tell us about survival camp.
SM: I was part of a six-day camp called Core Skills I which was given at the Roots School in Bradford. We built shelters and purified water. We slept outside, trapped and skinned animals and we did some stalking in the woods and learned how to move in the dark.
VS: Have you always loved nature?
SM: I was actually a computer geek growing up in Hyde Park. I went to the University of Vermont but after college I moved away for a while and it was only when I came back that I began to appreciate Vermont and being outside.
VS: What do you do for work?
SM: TypeWell is remote transcription of university classes for deaf and hearing- impaired people. I have a contract with a school in Massachusetts and they Skype me in. I listen to the professor and provide real- time transcription. It’s a great job because My schedule allows me to go away in the summer and it gives me flexibility to train.
VS: How much training do you do?
SM: In the next few months I’ll try to run 50 to 60 miles a week. I also cross-train and do yoga and rock climbing. I trying not to overwork my body too much.