Broken.

I use to think I was a broken piece of human. I use to think something was wrong with me. I still do.

I don’t like posting about my feelings. Unless they are things I feel during races.

Feelings in general… hmm. I think about this a lot.
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The problem is… I like everyone. I like people’s “flaws”. I like weird. I like awkwardness. I like random and ridiculous. There are people that are easy to be around. There are people that take a little more work and patience. There are people that make it easy to lose time, and stay out too late, and remind you how to get the most out of everyday.

Feelings are fun. and also dumb.
…………………………………………………..
I’ve reached a quarter life… if I live to 120.

What have I done with my life?

I did the normal stuff. School, collage, sports.

I’ve been in a relationship. Been engaged. Been single.

I work a lot. Sometimes I run a lot. I love racing.

Sometimes I’m good at being a friend. Sometimes I suck.
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I’m constantly surprised by people though. Folks are there when you least expect it. Reach out when you’ve had a bad day. We all come and go to the same stuff and don’t say much – but our actions speak more than words.

So now – this. I’ve wrote a post about vague feelings.
Maybe out of boredom?

I don’t know what I’m doing most the time.
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Feeling’s hard. I’d much rather get beat up at Rossi’s classes.

The End.

Inaugural Many on the Genny – 40 Mile.

First. 2018 Many on the Genny is already open. Nothing to think about there.
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As for 2017. I’ve now done 15 ultras. I have favorites.
But MOTG is the current leader.

Why? It was perfect.
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I was kind of dreading the race. The day before – part of me didn’t want to go. I was planning on starting – but pretty certain I wouldn’t finish. I thought I was injured.

My foot felt pretty awful after running a Ragnar (ultra team) trail relay the weekend before. The Papliteal on my left knee was also aggravated – which is what took me out of my 100 attempt last year. I could run on the foot – but if the knee thing happened again, there was no way.

I love Inaugural races. Especially when trail friends are the race directors. So I had to start – and just see what happens.
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I did no preparing. I would wear my Orange Mud vest – but figured I wouldn’t be out there long enough to need much other than water. I didn’t have any gels, or bars to pack. But I did have chocolate covered almonds. So I carried those and some salt tabs.

I started out easy. Often running with friends. The first 20 was a lot of back and forth, and never really alone. It was all on trails I’d never ran on before. Along the gorge, by waterfalls, through water crossings. Great single track, awesome downhills – all runable.

I didn’t mind the road sections – a great opportunity to bank some time, and just take it easy.
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I skipped the first aid-station… I hadn’t touched my water… or almonds yet. And I was nearing 2 hours in. oops? but I felt fine.

I ate a pickle and a potato and Aid-station #2. Started taking salt tabs and excessive water intake somewhere between there and mile 20 (Aid Station 3).

There were only 5 aid-stations, but I found the spacing to be pretty perfect. Enough time for me to drain my water, then refill soon after.
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I caught up to Kendra and Greg (and Charlie) after the 3rd AS, and ran a few miles with them. They lost me on some hills though, but I was happy to be alone.

Now on the other side of Letchworth – I had run some of these trails before for Sehgahunda. A bit more rugged and technical. Probably 100 creek crossings. Still great single track, and still all pretty much runable. It was here I started thinking – everything is great.

This is my kind of race. Hills that don’t drag. Trails that you can coast on. Mostly single track. You forget how awesome Letchworth is until you see it all in a day.
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My goals for today:

  1. Start.
  2. Make it to mile 35. Even if I had to walk there.
  3. 35 was my finish line. And I guess I’d keep going if I got there.

I got to the 4th Aid Station – Mile 30ish. Still feeling good.

Usually I hit some kind of low point in the 20’s. But nope. Legs felt fine. Had energy. Always felt like I could run. I only had 5 miles till I reached my goal. Only 1 more hour.

Supposably.

It was this section that was the hardest for me. I was getting impatient. I was running low on water. I was out of water around 34 – but had to be there soon. Until I came across water jugs on the ground… Not a good sign.

I filled my water. Life was good. Where was AS 5?? Whatever. I didn’t really need anything now – Just the water.

The folks at the Rochester Running Co tent promised me chocolate and pickles. I was still impatiently running to get there. This is taking forever. But I’m still running. I think this is the most running I’ve done in an ultra??

Still taking forever….

Photo by Jim McLaughlin – RRC tent / AS #5

I think it ended up being mile 37?

Jonathan handed over some chocolate. I snagged a few pickles. Water refilled. And I left as they blasted “The Final Countdown.”

5 more miles? Nah. I’m gonna say 3 more miles. Yeah – Eric and Sheila wouldn’t make this a 40+ race.
——————————————————————————-

The trails looked familiar. I was still convinced I only had a few miles left. Then reality would set in… but I was still running.

Still running and felt good. Definitely the most miles I’ve ever “ran”. Definitely the best I’ve ever felt. It was in these miles that I remembered the day – and decided… I love everything about this race.
——————————————————————————-
I know the trails leading into the Mt. Morris Dam pretty well. And was excited to know where I was exactly. Only a mile or so left.

You pop out of the woods into the parking lot – and round your way to some open grassy picnic area. The Finnish was through some wood gate – where I got high fives from Eric.

40 miles is a great distance. Or 43. or whatever it was.
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I hung around the finish seeing friends, and waiting for others to come in. Rochester friends. Buffalo friends. Even Zayne from Connecticut. This race got everyone out – and everyone together, for a pretty perfect day.

Finish Line Sky

Thanks Eric and Sheila for everything you do.
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What’s Next?
Twisted Branch 100k… in 5 weeks or so.
If you need something to do mid August – this is a point to point trail race. It’s tough. It’s awesome. Pretty sure there’s always a full moon. With a 20 hour cutoff this year – I think finisher numbers will be high.

Get in while you can! or come watch me suffer.
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Cool running people and their websites – check them out:

#Trailsroc
Trail Methods
Rochester Running Co
Goose Adventure Racing
Medved
Running Inside Out
Mountain Peak Fitness
Red Newt Racing

The end.

Cayuga Trails 50 – 2017

My 3rd Cayuga 50 finish. My 14th ultra (8th 50+). It’s crazy how quick they can pile up in just 3 years.
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I woke up at 2:15am Saturday morning and drove down to Ithaca.

I was not feeling great. I was under trained. I was mostly worried about my foot – If I tweaked it all again, I would likely be done.

But plan #1: Just start.
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I rolled into the Robert Treman parking lot at 5:15am. Grabbed my bib. The weather was perfect, only slightly chilly.

I stood around with the team, and talked to long lost friends. Love races that bring everyone back together again.

Mountain Peak Fitness/Red Newt Racing team – Photo by De’ Vang

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Plan #2: Just run.

I started. I knew the course. I still had that 10 hour time goal in the back of my mind. But I wasn’t going to stress about it. I wanted to enjoy the trails as much as the last couple years. I didn’t want to taint the experience at all by a bad day.
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I found myself playing tag with the same runners for most of the day. Did a good amount of running with them on the way out to Buttermilk. The way back we started spreading out, and would usually re-group at aid-stations.
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The course was slightly different this year. We didn’t go down the massive staircase – instead had more runnable stuff, and some nice downhills. Ian added a lolly pop loop before the 1st aid-station… which was ok. Added a bit of climbing, and some muddy slippery creek descents. But it was short, and didn’t have to worry about doing it on the way back.

Still got to enjoy the stairs on the way back too.
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I love Cayuga because it’s so runnable. The single track is some of the best. The climbs are big, but over quick. Tons of stairs – whether it’s on trails, or by the gorge. I’ll never get bored of those trails. I have yet to get back to the start and not want to go back out.
——————————————————————————-
I finished the race with a new friend Zayne. We were back and forth all day from the start. After the Old Mill aid-station I felt like I had fresh legs and started picking off runners. I caught up to Zayne – who was also looking like he had some energy, and we took off. We ran everything. The hills, the stairs. Finished the last 3 miles in sub 30 minutes – and crossed the line together. Some of the funnest running yet.
——————————————————————————
Results:

17th Female
84th Overall
50(+?) miles in 11:53:04

Almost 2 hours slower than the last couple years (crazy). But I enjoyed it. I finished un-injured (ran a 9 mile shake-out the next day) and ready to run 2 more ultras this month. Sometimes it takes running a ton of miles to get you out of a running funk.

The end.

Photo by Joe Azze of Mountain Peak Fitness

Looking at CT50. #3

My 3rd take on Cayuga Trails 50 mile is coming up in less than 2 weeks. The last 2 years it has been my favorite trail race.

2015: I ran 10:08
2016: I ran 10:07

I like the idea of being consistent. but – ultimately, sub 10 hours would be sweet.
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Each year this race comes during the busiest times at work. Which means my training suffers. My sleep suffers.

This year I’ve pretty much given up. I haven’t been running. I mean… I ran a marathon trail race Saturday. but … training miles have been pretty sad. At least I know I can make it 25 or so.

I’m dead. I don’t want to run. I’m burnt out. My body died a few weeks ago – was pretty much incapable of doing anything.
—————————————————————
A few positives:

I’ve been consistently strength training with Josh Rossi at Fore performance. If I have any success at all this year – it’s thanks to them.
— I’ve had solid training runs thanks to races. (Ontario Summit, Breakneck, pacing at GA Death Race).
— Friends have gotten me out on some good runs.
— Friends are awesome.

I’ve got a few things to be excited about:
I get frustrated with training – but I love racing. And still look forward to them, no matter the miles I’ve put in.
— Racing allows me to have nothing else. Nothing to do other than run. When it’s just me and my mind, and some friends in between. Often it’s a battle. Often I feel like this is what I’m meant to be doing. Often it’s the moments I feel nothing else matters. Low points are hard – quitting is tempting – but always remind myself that I really have nothing better to do.

— I go into every race with no expectations. Because something always happens. At the end, there’s always a story.
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The season of adventure is just beginning.
And I’ve already had a few awesome ones.

First run of the year. 1.1.17 ❤

2016

2016. Was interesting.

I ran 1966.81 miles
I raced 379.96 miles – 19 races (5 Ultras)
2 DNFs.

I did strength training with Josh Rossi the entire year.

I joined the MPF/RNR Trail running team.

Made a few good ventures to the ADKs and knocked off more high peaks.
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The year started out strong with group things and lots of friend runs.
– Beer Mile.

2016 Beer mile smiles.

2016 Beer mile smiles.

– Wegmans Marathon.

Wegmans Marathon on Wegmans 100th B-day. 6 Wegmans. 1 cake.

Wegmans Marathon on Wegmans 100th B-day. 6 Wegmans. 1 cake.

– G Street crew.

Rock N Roll DC Marathon - March 2016

Rock N Roll DC Marathon – March 2016

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I had some good races. Cast a Shadow 6 hour – 34ish miles. DC Marathon – I qualified for Boston here, then didn’t register for Boston. Cayuga Trails 50. Ontario Summit Marathon. Whiteface Skyrace. 0 SPF.  Also good runs at Belleayre Mountain Summit 10k, and All Down Hill 5 mile (18:38 5k).

Cayuga Trails 50 Mile.

Cayuga Trails 50 Mile.


Whiteface Sky Race. Photo by Joe Azze http://mountainpeakfitness.com/

Whiteface Sky Race. Photo by Joe Azze
http://mountainpeakfitness.com/


Sweet Trophies at Belleayre 10k - and an Overall win. MPF/RNR swept this race.

Sweet Trophies at Belleayre 10k – and an Overall win. MPF/RNR swept this race.

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I had my first DNF at my first 100 attempt. Burning River. Yeah, I was injured going into it. I didn’t leave without good memories though – The great toe debacle and shoe amputation.

Save the toe. RIP flyknits. (actually i'll probably still wear these)

Save the toe. RIP flyknits. (actually i’ll probably still wear these)

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I jumped in to pace Rob at Twisted Branch. Then ran Lucifers Crossing the next day – probably my worst race in a LONG time… dead legs plus a few nights of no sleep.
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Ran Watergap 50k in October. It went well until I had good old breathing issues – but still sub 5 hour.

Watergap 50k.

Watergap 50k.


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Ventured to Virginia for Hellgate 100k in December. My second DNF @ mile 47, due to missing a cutoff. It was a record cold year, but it was awesome.
Gettin ready in Bethel - Hellgate 100k. Photo by Chris O'

Gettin ready in Bethel – Hellgate 100k. Photo by Chris O’


——————————————————————
Best races/weekends of 2016:
Whiteface SkyRaces. Cayuga 50. And Hellgate 100k. Hands down.
——————————————————————
2016 wasn’t without mistakes. I should have taken more time by myself.

But being alone is awkward. And kind of scary.
__________________________________________________________________
So whats up for 2017?

1. Starting it off awkward and scary. But also kind of refreshing.
2. Im signed up for:

3. Another full year of Strength training with Rossi.
4. Another full year of Team stuff – I’m looking forward to joining more adventures.
5. Planning to spend a good chunk of time in the ADKs – Probably run Whiteface again.

I’ve been playing around with the idea of venturing out west for my next 100 attempt. Looking into September/ labor day week. Or stay local and run Twisted Branch again.

So yeah – Basically no big plans. Just take the year as it comes.
See what happens.

The end.

Hellgate 100k – DNF #2

Friday December 9th – I spent the day traveling down to Virginia.

The week leading up to this was full of not running, a lot of working, and very little sleep. Not that I didn’t have time for sleep – I just couldn’t.

I was pretty terrified. Reading race reports. Getting advice from teammates. Hearing about the other cold years at Hellgate and “Hellgate Eyes.” I was way out of my league. Plus I hate being cold.
______________________________________________

I panicked about the clothes I had to wear. Got new gloves that were wind/waterproof but not bulky. New tights that were a bit thicker and also had pockets! Pockets are cool. Got my first Smartwool thing – a long sleeve base layer. New shoes – Merrel all out Terra’s… put a whole 6 miles on them before the race. Friends gave me boxes of hand warmers and toe warmers. Got a new headlamp so I’d also have a backup. I didn’t want being cold or unprepared be the reason I DNF.
shoes
______________________________________________

So yeah. I was terrified. I had a few simple goals.

1. Make it through the creek crossing 3 miles in.
2. Make it to sunrise (7.5 hours)
3. Make it to the 2nd cutoff (12.5 hours)
4. Enjoy it.
______________________________________________

I rolled into Camp Bethel around 9pm. Immediately found Chris, Ron and Hobbs inside getting ready. I had missed the Horton speech. It was cold. My toes had gone numb already. I was opening bags of hand warmers and they would disappear into pockets and gloves. Toe warmers already on. I debated on wearing my puffy jacket for the first half…. could I ever be too warm? I dont think so. But Chris was giving me looks like it was a bad idea.

Gettin ready in Bethel - photo by Chris O'

Gettin ready in Bethel – photo by Chris O’

______________________________________________

We left for the start around 10:30pm. My Mom drove me and new friend Tommy.

We wander around the Hellgate Trail Head for an hour or so – checking in, and disposing of drop bags.
bag
Horton tells everyone to line up about 15 minutes before the start. I take off puffy jacket 😦

Hobbs and I - photo by Chris O'

Hobbs and I – photo by Chris O’

I knew a lot of the first half would be on fire roads. Also knew that my feet would be getting wet in 3 miles – This was the thing I was most worried about.
____________________________________________
There was a good amount of water to avoid in the first few miles – each time thinking maybe that was the creek, and maybe it had dried up. But no – eventually I hear the water roaring, with no stepping stones in sight. I see others looking around – others saying “you just have to cross.” I of course start my way by almost falling in – I have a pretty bad rep with water crossings…

Cayuga Trails 50 - Water Fail

Cayuga Trails 50 – Water Fail

I reach the other side. Expecting my feet to be freezing, and was planning on having to change socks right away. But they felt fine? I decided to just keep moving and change later.
———————————————
I was very surprised at how comfortable I felt. I wasn’t cold. Well. I had feeling in my fingers and toes – pretty much all I worried about. I was glad I had no puffy jacket.

It was colder in some areas than others. I knew Headforemost Mountain would be the coldest. Also where my drop bag would be. I wore my sunglasses all night. I took them off briefly because I wanted to see the world in… not a yellow tint. My eyes felt cold when I blinked. I can see how they could freeze.
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A lot of the climbing was on roads. You could look up and see headlamps winding the mountain – Seeing where you had to go. The night was clear, and stars were bright – I would confuse them with headlamps. I turned mine off at one point – It was much darker than I expected. But the sky was awesome.

I missed a turn at one point. Found myself in a very dark area – trails weren’t too clear. I heard someone yell – and saw a string of lights pretty far away…. lame. I turned around.
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I wasn’t looking at my watch. I just wanted to make it to my drop bag to switch my vest. I was using an Ultimate Direction vest, and borrowed a soft flask from Mertsock. I should have tried it out first – I just cant do bottles in the front. It was driving me crazy. At some point the soft flask left. We had a few good sips – but I was relieved it had dissapeared (Sorry Mertsock – I will replace it 🙂 ). Yes – I was much happier without water. I didn’t feel like I needed much, and everyones water was freezing anyway.

Other than some vest issues – I was fine. The cold was bareable – If it stayed like this, I would be good. Tho I knew I was still heading for the coldest part of the Mountain and the coldest time of the morning. But I was 20 miles in, and felt pretty fresh.
———————————————-
The first cutoff was at 6:40am at Floyds Field – supposably mile 22ish. I kept watching my watch miles creep up. 22 miles…23..24…25…25.6. I finally reached my dropbag, and it was 5:45am. I didn’t want to stop, I could feel how cold it was… but had to get this vest off. I switched it fast… then decided I should change my wet socks here too – because everything was starting to freeze. I went over to the aid station to get out of the wind. My hands quickly became useless and numb. But socks were changed… I would be dry and would have water for the daylight hours.

I grabbed some food, and a cup of water – it was frozen. I was shivering. Hands and feet numb now. I had to get moving. It was 6:05am and I took off. It was a nice incline out of the aid station, I was running to try and warm up. My lungs were getting tight, I was so cold. I was panicking. I felt like I was about to get stuck – not being able to breath, and freezing. I knew the sunrise would be coming soon… I couldn’t be done yet. I turned around. I had to re-set. If I keep going in panic mode – I wont get very far… and the breathing thing would only get worse.
———————————————-
Upon my return to the aid station new friend Tommy was there. I told him about my brief attempt to leave – and he told me to get warmed up, and come out with him when he’s ready. I said OK.

I watched runners come and go. A group of us were de-frosting at the heater. Steam rising off gloves and glasses. Everyone’s water was frozen. Jackets were frozen from sweat. It was single-digits here. THIS is what I expected from this race – this is the cold that I feared. This was the stuff that I didn’t think I’d be able to handle.
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I was still at the aid station and it was 6:30am. I was pretty ok with leaving just before the cut off – I wished I could stay there till sunrise.

Tommy was finishing up with his shoes and socks, and grabbing some food. I was preparing myself for the 2nd attempt in the cold. Two other girls dropped here.

Tommy and I start our way to the trail. Immediately I’m shivering again. But I was pretty calm this time… Tommy did some talking, I tried to answer through my teeth chattering. We were running, and it was already starting to get light. Goal #2 was to see the sunrise… I was so excited.
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We had 5 miles till the next aid station, and so far it was all runable. We talked about our running, and mutual running friends. Then looked off to the left and saw red sky and beams of light… this was awesome.

We reached the next aid station pretty quick. We stayed together from this one too, at least for a while. Running had been feeling good, but walking I would get so tired. I was pretty confident in my ability to stay awake, or function on no sleep. I figured as long as I was moving – I wouldn’t be tired. Maybe it was the 26 hours awake so far – or maybe it was the lack of calories in the first half. Maybe both. I would be perfectly happy sleeping outside right now – it was beautiful out. Tho still cold.
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I told Tommy that he should take off if he felt the need. We knew we would be pretty close to making the 12:30pm cutoff. I was not as motivated. I didn’t know If I’d be able to stay awake for another 9 hours. But I told myself I would have to keep going if I made it.

Tommy had taken off. I was pretty happy being solo again. I didn’t stress about the cutoff. The trails were awesome. It was in these moments I asked myself some questions. Maybe the sleep deprived version of me had better answers. Definitely not the answers I had expected.

I heard voices then realized I almost nodded off. There was no one around.

I reached the aid station at 36ish miles. A tiny aid station – no crew one. No cars to hop in. I asked how far to the next one – they said 8 miles. I laughed.

This would be a long one. I stuffed my pockets with snacks. I’d need them to stay awake.
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I was still pretty happy to be outside. I don’t think I would’ve stopped yet anyway. I was loving this race. Only wishing I wasn’t so tired. I felt great. I had some minor IT band pain after my wrong turn earlier – made downhills kind of lame.

My watch was dead – so I had no clue how many miles I had left till the Bearwallow cutoff. It was 10:30am – Thanks to my fitbit I could at least know what time it was. I had 2 hours to go 8 miles… more or less.
———————————————-
I was pretty zapped energy wise. I kept waiting for the 2nd winds to come – they never did. Food didn’t help. Salt didn’t help. Even with the lack of hydration – I was well hydrated… (3x in 11 hours) – what the heck. I walked pretty much every incline – which meant a lot of walking. I’d run when I could. But never got a good groove. I’d get tired – then eat something, then get tired again. But I didn’t care. There were moments when the wind was gone and I felt warmth from the sun. I’d look around and could tell I was in the middle of something awesome.

I felt like I had gotten pretty far. Between 11:30am and 12pm – I was thinking I might actually make the cutoff. I had been on the trails near Bearwallow before – crewing for Hobbs last year. And the trails were looking familiar. They were getting more technical and rocky… and covered in leaves. I made an attempt to run more – but each time it didn’t last long. The leaves were pretty ridiculous – a foot deep and covering large rocks. Basically not runnable if you want to have ankles after this. But I still had 30 minutes… I had to be close.
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30 minutes came and went. Things looked familiar, then things looked like they would go on forever. I would be done when I reach the aid-station, and I was pretty ok with that.

I got to Bearwallow sometime around 1pm. My mom was there. We grabbed my drop bag and drove over to Boplets Gap – One of my favorite spots. I really wanted to get there via trail. But couldn’t leave without visiting it again.

Boplets Gap aid-station

Boplets Gap aid-station

I texted with Chris and went to find him and other friends at the finish line. I was excited to see everyone had survived, and speedy friends and team mates were finishing well.
———————————————-
Overall times were not as quick as previous years. Everyone had a hard time with the last 4 miles of rocks and leaves into Bearwallow. They were calling this year “The Frozen Year.”

There was a recorded low of 8 degrees – not counting wind. 90% finished last year (the hottest year), 82% finished this year (the coldest year).
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There are a few things I would do different.
1. Try to sleep before the start.
2. If it’s cold – don’t stop. Even if it meant not having water – It was cold enough that I would survive another 20 miles… probably.
– If I had kept moving through Floyds field I think I would have been fine. Or at least would have made the 2nd cutoff.
3. Should just stick with what I normally use – Orange mud vest. The ultimate direction one is awesome for carrying things – but can’t find a good way to carry water/ a way that doesn’t drive me crazy.
4. My face froze sometimes. Probably cover it more.

Things that worked well.
1. Home made energy balls. One of the few things I ate in the first half – and they were awesome.
2. Gloves and mittens over them. I could feel my fingers for most of the race.
3. Hand warmers. I think they worked.
4. Toe warmers – I think they worked too. I could feel my toes for the first 20 miles.
5. Pockets. Pockets are awesome – easier to use than digging through a vest.
6. Sunglasses. I wore them all night. And all day.
7. Palmers cocoa butter chapstick. If there’s one thing I hate – it’s post race chapped lips.
8. New Merrel shoes – All out Terra’s. Awesome.
———————————————-
I went into Hellgate pretty terrified. Pretty sure I was way out of my league. Finding myself along side people that are running Western States next year. —> Yeah – what am I doing here?

I found myself here with a large group of friends and MPF teammates. As hard as I tried to be alone – I found myself surrounded. And welcomed it.

I had a great race. I did something I was terrified of – and it was only briefly terrible. I felt like I belonged after all — I wished I could say I finished.

I got 47 miles… and it was awesome.

I plan on attempting Hellgate again. If Horton lets me back 🙂
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This experience would not have been possible without the Red Newt Racing/ Mountain Peak Fitness team. A number of them were out there and had great races and finishes. If you’ve been thinking about training with a coach or personal training – Mountain Peak fitness has some of the best and most experienced.
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Here’s some races to put on that 2017 calender.

Apr 15, 2017: Breakneck Point Trail Runs, Beacon, NY
Apr 15, 2017: Muddy Sneaker 20k, Naples, NY
May 20, 2017: Ontario Summit Trail Race, Ontario County Park, NY
Jun 3, 2017: Cayuga Trails 50, Ithaca, NY
Jun 18: Gorges Ithaca Half Marathon, Ithaca, NY
Jul 8, 2017: Whiteface VK, Wilmington, NY
Jul 9, 2017: Whiteface Sky Race, Wilmington, NY
Aug 13, 2017: Dam Good Trail Race, Letchworth State Park, NY

The end.

Looking at Hellgate 100k

In 13 days I’ll be running Hellgate 100k.
It starts at Midnight – In the mountains of Virginia.

Unlike most races – you couldn’t register until just about a month ago. And it involved sending in a paper application to be reviewed by Dr. David Horton and comittee. 145 runners were selected – 28 females and 117 men.

hellgate_map
There’s about 12,000 ft of gain? I think – over 65ish miles.
hallgate_elevation

This will be much different from most other races I’ve run. No getting there a day or two early. No hotels or sleeping before the start. No need to worry about waking up early or breakfast. None of the usual crew.

I’ll be rolling in around 8/9pm for check in – then catching the ride to the start.

I’ll have one drop bag that I’ll get to see twice. I’ll have friend Hobbs and RNR/MPF team mates racing as well – my guess is I wont see any of them after the start. Hope to catch up with them at the finish If I don’t take the full 18 hours.

It will be cold. The trend for VA seems to be low’s in the 30’s – highs of 40’s/50’s. It’s currently looking cold and rainy for the 10th.

Usually I’d be more worried about being cold. But this years been about doing things outside of my comfort zone. Sometimes that means failure.

I’m looking forward to the long day in the woods. Looking forward to the sunrise after long hours in the dark. I’m pretty confident in my ability to perform on no sleep – but it’ll be interesting to really put that to the test. Looking forward to friends and teammates and my mom(!) at the finish. Hopefully I wont torture her by looking deathly or pretending to be hypothermic.

I’ll have 18 hours to finish. 6 hours and 40 minutes to get to mile 22.5. And 12 hours and 30 minutes to get to mile 42.5. My main goal for this race is going in un-injured. And being able to breath for the majority would be nice.

Maybe I’m looking for some clarity. Maybe I’m looking for some answers. Maybe I just figured out a way to get some real time to myself. It’s hard for me to not include others in my race plans – as I know friends and crew love this sort of thing. As always – it will be interesting to see what happens.

The end.

Whiteface Sky Race

A bit of a delayed race report. But here it is!
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After months of a hectic work schedule. A lot of 12+ hours days. I had a week of hiking in the Adirondack’s to look forward to.

I went up the week of July 4th to chase Jeff around in his quest to hike all 46. Then the Whiteface Virtical weekend was the 9th and 10th. I was registered to race the Sky Race – 2X up and down Whiteface and one alpine loop. Totalling 15 miles.
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The week leading up to this was full of unusual pre-race stuff. Hiking 3 high peaks, then “running” 2 more. Backpacking, camping and 3 nights of hammock sleeping. Plus I saw a bear!

Hammocking in Wilmington

Hammocking in Wilmington

I Volunteered on Saturday for the vertical K – Starts at the Base and runs up to the Summit Chair lift – about 2.5 miles and 3,300 ft.

Vertical K

Vertical K

Vertical K profile

Vertical K profile

Some people are crazy enough to do both the Vertical k and then the Sky Race on Sunday.

I’m not a fan of endless hills. But Mountains are different.

In true Whiteface weekend fashion – the weather was not cooperating. Saturday had lightning – which delayed the start about an hour. Sunday was drizzling, cold, and lots of fog.

Sky Race map

Sky Race map

Sky Race profile

Sky Race profile

The Sky Race starts with a 2.5 mile climb up to the Summit chair lift. It’s a nice grueling hike, which only took about an hour. You reach the top and have 2.5 miles of down to look forward to! The down is runnable, but steep and slippery in places. It was fun to be fast and careless thanks to the cushion of mud – and a decent that only took about 20 min.
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I got to the base aid station with quads that were toast – but an alpine loop to look forward to. This is a 5 mile loop from the base of the mountain – which is all runnable. Running felt nice at first, but after a while my legs had nothing. I spent the last 3 miles of the loop debating on dropping. I was sure I’d be unable to climb the mountain again… no way.

After about an hour and 20 minutes on the loop… I reached the base aid-station again. I grabbed some food. Stood there for a while – told Strat this was hard. And started walking to the start of my second ascend…. what?
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I saw Joe Azze on the way up – he snapped some awesome photos.

This photo is great. I feel like it captures how awful yet how awesome this race is.

The 2nd time up was brutal. As expected. Legs were toast. Back was aching. I was thirsty (of course didn’t carry water – it was too cold to dehydrate….. right). I really wanted a pb&j at the Summit. I came up to a girl who had passed me on the alpine loop, and we spent most of the ascend together. We would go back and forth. Taking turns stopping and just staring up… and thinking “whyyy… ???”

Then I discovered crawling. CRAWLING felt awesome. So much easier. I kept moving from then on. Told the girl to crawl. She was surprised too. Got to the top and saw Jan – got my pb&j. Started down, life was good.

I was excited to be done soon. Another “20” minutes – This down took me about 30. I could feel the trauma I’ve done to my quads. I pushed them through this last down just as careless. I thought about the DOMS that would follow for the next week…. always a good feeling.
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The Finnish was awesome. Surrounded by friends and team mates. Seeing MPF/RNR crew always helps to keep going – grateful for their support.

This is definitely one of the hardest races I’ve done – physically. Probably my favorite race from this year. Along with Cayuga Trails 50. I was destroyed for about a week after this. The first time I’ve gone for runs where running up hills felt better than going down.

View the details of my race on Strava
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If you’re looking for races to do next year – you should save these dates!

April 15 – Breakneck Point
June 3rd – Cayuga Trails 50
July 8th and 9th – Whiteface Sky Races

whitefaceskyrace2016

Photo by Joe Azze

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What’s next for me?
I applied to Hellgate 100k. And got in. So that’s the plan for December 10th!

The end.

Burning River 100 – DNF

Packet Pickup

Packet Pickup

3am on Saturday August 6th, we left our hotel for Squires Castle.
The start line of Burning River 100.

3:30am at the Start. Photo by Chris O'Brien.

3:30am at the Start.
Photo by Chris O’Brien.

I was unsure if I had slept at all. Unsure of how running would feel.
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The first 12 miles were on road. The foot felt ok, but I was compensating a little. Running didn’t feel normal. I was wearing my Nike Hyperfeel trail shoes – which I thought would be good for the whole day, on and off the trail. But in the first 12, my feet were killing me. When my left foot was hurting more than my right foot (injured foot), I knew it was a shoe thing.

The first crew accessible aid station was at mile 11.5 – Polo fields. I meant to change my shoes. I forgot. I didn’t need food or water, so just kept going. I popped into some trails from there, then quickly realised I wouldn’t have crew at the next aid station. It would be 10 miles till I saw them again.

The shoes would go in and out of killing me and being ok. I hit a low point early. Somewhere after mile 15.  I was walking a lot. I know it’s 100 miles, but it was way too early for this kind of stuff. All I kept thinking is “Im not gonna make it.” and Mertsock was driving in from Rochester to pace me at mile 72…
It would be a waste of a drive.
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So here’s some stuff.

There are things I expect in every race. I expect at some points running will feel good. I expect those feelings of “running is awesome!” I expect to be able to run the downhills – cause those are what I LOVE. I expect ups and downs, and breakdowns. I expect the unexpected.

I went into this 100 with doubts of how far I would go. I injured my foot 10 days before. Nothing serious apparently because running 100k on it seemed to do it more good than harm. But that was my first “injury” from a freak foot twisting event on trails. Still – It kept me from running how I normally run. My form was off. I couldn’t run any uphills OR downhills. Having a lot of issues from the start of such a big race – had expectations at an all time low. I didn’t expect to finish.
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On to Shadow Lake – Mile 21.7

I saw Chris about a mile before the aid station – he was out getting in some miles. I told him I needed to change my shoes – which was good or I might’ve forgot again.

I sat down with the crew. I cried as we pulled my shoes off. They advised me to go with the Flyknit road shoes – which was a good call. I was sad. I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to eat. Not that I didn’t feel good or anything – just was in a “what’s the point” mood.

I stood up and stared at the aid station for a bit. Stood some more. ok. Pickle. Cookie. M&M’s. Guess I’ll go.
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On to Egbert – Mile 26.5

I would be seeing crew again at Egbert. Only 5 miles away. My feet were feeling better, I still walked. A lot. I was in a dark place.

— I thought a lot about this dark spot. It was nothing about running. It brought up things in life. Things that convinced me that I’m the worst. That I’m a broken piece of human. —

I don’t remember much of this stretch. As I ran into the aid station Chris said I was looking better…. hmm ok.

Matt stuffed my phone into my Orange Mud vest – so they could track me via find my friends. Chris brought me food things I had forgotten about, which made me pretty happy. I wandered over to the aid station and took salt for the first time, and some pickles. I went back over and asked Jeff when I’d see them again….. 12 miles. Buh.
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On to Meadows – Mile 38.3

I walked for a bit out of Egbert. But I started running. Then I didn’t stop. I caught up to people who had passed me what felt like hours ago. I passed people I thought I’d never see again. Life wasn’t over. Thanks to crew. And carbs.

There was a long stretch on canal. Much longer than I expected. I was still cruising, it was sunny and hot. Things started hurting again, but I was still running. Part of me said this pace could hurt me later… part of me said – it probably won’t matter.

I rolled into Meadows around 12:30pm. Feeling like I could run till 72. I could make it to Mertsock. I could finish.

Chris handed me coconut water, and other things I hadn’t been thinking about. But he put them in front of me and I wanted them.

It would be 12 miles till I saw them again. 12 miles till Im half way done.
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On to Boston Mills – Mile 50

I lost momentum coming out of Meadows aid station. Feet were hurting. Right foot aching. Left foot had something going on under the Big toe nail. I got tired. Sleepy. I felt like I could lay out on the trail and be out. Something was missing. I walked a lot of the first 6 miles. I don’t remember the aid stations or what I ate in this stretch…. other than eventually eating 2 ginger chews cause I was bored. But it seemed within minutes of the ginger – a lot of pains went away, and I found myself running the next 6 miles.

I started to get excited. I had run parts of this trail with Jeff last year when we were waiting for Welden at mile 50. So things started to look familiar. I knew it’d be a few miles till I saw everyone again. I was getting close… then Welden was there! He was hanging out on the trail maybe a mile or less from the aid station, and ran in with me. Told me Mertsock was almost there.

Got in to 50 in 11 hours and 35 minutes. Was feeling great. Jeff said he was ready to hop in if I wanted a pacer. I didn’t know. He told me it’d be 16 miles before I would see crew again. I knew I would hit a low point. I knew it could be bad. I didn’t know if it would be better or worse with someone there. If there is someone who has seen me at my worst – it’s Jeff.

So yeah. Lets see what happens.

photo by Chris O'Brien

photo by Chris O’Brien

Grapes! at Mile 50. Photo by Chris O'Brien.

Grapes! at Mile 50. Photo by Chris O’Brien.

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On to Ledges – Mile 66.5

Jeff and I walked for a bit out of mile 50. Things felt like they had tightened up again, and momentum was gone. We had a long stretch on canal path that we walked a lot of with small run spirts. We got to a U-turn which put us back on some dirt, and started running more.

My big toe was getting hard to ignore. I was in a pretty good mood though. I was talking a lot. Happy to complain to Jeff about all things of the day and life. And he did an awesome job of listening.
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I expected my foot to be the reason I DNF. Then when my foot wasn’t getting any worse – I had no excuse. Could I DNF without an excuse. No. I would have to finish. I could walk all night – I was looking forward to the 24+ hour experience, whatever that entailed.
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Still to Ledges

We did some running. but I remember mostly walking. And at some point my mood had changed. My feet hurt. My toe was killing me. But it’s just a toe. It started to feel like the nail was getting looser – and something was definitely going on under it. I was also getting weird aches in my right upper calf.

We stopped at an unmanned aid station. I ate a gel and sat on a hill with my legs up. I could feel the circulation pulsing. It felt much-needed. It felt good.

Things didn’t change much from there though. Still had aches in my calf. Toe still hurt. I rolled my compression sock down – maybe it was a circulation thing. I was super low for a long time. Walking is so slow. Were not going to make it to Ledges before dark. We don’t have headlamps….

Then we heard voices. Our crew had ventured out on the trails from Pine Lane – where no crew was “allowed”.

We were very lucky to have them there. Got into the aid station. I wasn’t going to check out the toe – then Matt asked if we should look at it – cause… why not. I also wanted to get some different socks on.

It wasn’t too bad. Welden gave me a pin from his bib to poke at it. I poked under the nail – There was nothing. Poked at the side – some good stuff there. He cut open my flyknits to take the pressure off the toe.

At Pine Lane - Mile 59.7 Photo by Chris O'Brien

At Pine Lane – Mile 59.7
Photo by Chris O’Brien

Toe poking and Flyknit removal. Photo by Chris O'Brien.

Toe poking and Flyknit removal. Photo by Chris O’Brien.

Save the toe. RIP flyknits. (actually I'll probably still wear these)

Save the toe. RIP flyknits. (actually i’ll probably still wear these)

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STILL – on to Ledges.

The extra space was weird at first, but felt good. Problem solved. We had headlamps. I felt good. Water and nutrition was pretty on point all day. I never felt like I couldn’t eat, was never dehydrated. Never felt sick. I definitely don’t eat enough. I forget that 4 grapes and 8 M&Ms, and a couple of pickles isn’t a meal. I would eat between aid stations – which I forget to do in other races. But it would usually be 1 huma gel – or a ginger chew. But everyone is different. I’ve always felt better with less stuff in me.

I wanted to run now. The tightness in that right calf now felt like it was coming from under my knee. Soon it was just under my knee. It felt like a knot – I kept trying to rub it out. Jeff poked at it a little.

WHY. I wanted to run. I can ignore this – does it really hurt that much?

I guess it wasn’t a matter of pain. It was more that the muscle made running not possible. It wouldn’t allow it. It made walking stupid. I was up for walking 30 miles if I could walk a decent pace. But this was so dumb.
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In 100k – My injured foot is healed. My toe fixed. My Popliteal broken.
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The journey to Ledges continues.

We had 6 more miles till we would see crew again. I could make it there by cut off – which was 11:35PM.

We were lucky to have a lot of road and canal miles after the shoe dissection. I was worried about kicking roots, cause I was doing that all day.

We would try to run multiple times. It wouldn’t be a run. It would be walking pace. I would convince myself that I could force it. We would try again. Nope. So we walked.

I told Jeff I would walk it into Ledges then probably be done. The thought of it was heart breaking. My first DNF. I felt like I would never get over it. It was unacceptable. But this entire race was not how I wanted my first 100 to go, and I knew it wouldn’t be. It was not how I usually run – but I did the best with what I had. And my crew helped me inch forward and problem solve along the way.

It was dark. It felt like it’d been a long time. I asked Jeff what time it was – he said 9:something PM. I was surprised it was so late. We still had a couple of miles till we would get to Ledges – at this pace, I might not make the cut off anyway.

The course finally turns onto a trail. I walk a few feet onto it….

I can’t. I can’t pick my feet up enough to do handle a trail. I’m walking too slow. I’m done. I never made it to Ledges.
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The Escape.

We walked the path till it got to a “road”. We had been talking to Matt, and he was only minutes away. There was some adventuring involved in our escape – but it may be better to leave out those details.

Matt and Chris had both told me I should sit, and take some time before I stop for good. But I could tell this was something that wouldn’t go away. I’m good at knowing when im being lazy and when something has potential to change. But I couldn’t walk. and I wasn’t about to walk at a crawling pace for a few more hours just to miss a cutoff, and make whatever muscle that’s being dumb that much worse.

Now that it’s Monday – and my knee is still just as tight and un-walkable. I feel pretty good about my choice to stop where I did.
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Chris had asked me about my goals for this race before.

I told him just to see how far I could get – based on the pre-race foot injury.

I also told him I wanted to be able to run again this month.

I achieved one – 64ish miles in 17 something hours. and I’m sure I’ll achieve the running again this month thing. Seeing as im signed up to pace Jeff for Twisted Branch, and also racing Lucifer’s Crossing the day after. 🙂
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It’s hard for me to drag people into these things and not finish or do what is planned. I want this stuff to be a great experience for everyone. But even in the unexpected and unplanned, and sleep deprivation – you learn things about yourself and your friends. Things that you need to work on, and things that just bring everyone closer together.
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Luckily we had Dan-o.

We met Chris and the rest of the gang at Pine Hollow – which would be mile 76 for Dan-o.
— I hadn’t seen Dan since the starting line – and was excited to follow him around the rest the night and morning.

I watched Dan-o come in – and take Welden. Then it would be hours before we’d see them again. Like 8 hours. I couldn’t imagine. It was getting cold.

I remembered picking up Daven here last year in the daylight – and 90 degrees – and running the next 20 miles… I couldn’t imagine this part at night.
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With hours to spare – we went to our hotel and got some sleep till about 3am. We would go catch Dan-o and his gang at mile 90. Then 95. Then off to the finish.

Dan-o at mile 90. Photo by Chris O'Brien.

Dan-o at mile 90. Photo by Chris O’Brien.

Walking to meet Dan for his last mile - to the finish. Photo by Chris O'Brien.

Walking to meet Dan for his last mile – to the finish. Photo by Chris O’Brien.

The gang. Walking the last mile and getting dropped by Dan-o.

The gang. Walking the last mile and getting dropped by Dan-o.

I knew I’d get dropped cause my stupid walking pace – but I was happy to be there the last mile. Happy to be at the finish. This race is awesome. Could use a few less roads and canals. but the trails are super fun.

Gang at the finish line. Photo by Chris O'Brien.

Gang at the finish line.
Photo by Chris O’Brien.

I knew some day I would experience a DNF. I knew 100 miles would increase the odds. I think I’m capable of a decent attempt. So until next time – this was fun.

The end.

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Things I used.

Orange Mud vest – Hydra Quiver
with a Ultimate Direction Bottle – Hand Held
— I used the hand held bottle in the orange mud vest so I can use the little pocket on the bottle for easy to access things. For this race – it was chapstick.

Road shoes would be fine for this race – if it’s always as dry as it was this year.
I used Nike FlyKnits.

Compression socks as well as my trail shoes –  have been fine for other ultras i’ve done. In NY. But something about Ohio – maybe the Location, different elevation/humidity. Legs and feet handled them differently/seemed to be more swollen.

Huma Gels. Awesome as always. I used 4 or 5 during this race.
Picky Bar. I ate two. 1 about 2 hours in. Another… somewhere between 30 and 50. ALways great.

Pickles. I had a pickle at almost every aid station.

Salt tabs. Starting taking salt somewhere around 25 miles. With A LOT of water.

Salt tab and pickle combo. Combo for success.

Grapes. are awesome. Ate these at almost every aid station after 25 miles.

Peanut M&M’s. Grabbed these as I would walk back out to the trail.

Dark Chocolate – I found dark chocolate with ginger. It was awesome. Had this at Mile 50.

Coconut water. Had regular coconut water around mile 25.

Chocolate coconut water. Had this around mile 50.

Home made energy bars. With dark chocolate, molasses, honey, raisins, gluten free oats and rice crispies, coffee beans and coco nibs. Had this at 25 and 50.

Ginger chews. I ate 4 during the day. Out of boredom.

I think that’s it.

oh yeah – 1 freezee pop.

Looking at Burning River 100

1 week from today I’ll be 5 hours into my first 100 miler.

I signed up for Burning River after a long run with Dan-o – we both talked about doing a 100 miler this year. We decided Burning River was good timing for Cayuga 50 to be a good training race.
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So 100 Mile Training.

  • I still haven’t followed a training plan.
  • I wanted to do a 100 mile week, or 2… nope.
  • I wanted to do 70+ mile weeks… nope.
  • I got 2 weeks that were over 50. One week included Cayuga Trails 50, the other was a week in the ADK’s hiking and the Whiteface Sky Marathon.
  • I’ve already done 215 miles of racing.
  • The races I’ve done have been awesome, and hard.
  • I ran a trail marathon the weekend after a trail 50. Everything hurt.
  • I hiked 3 high peaks, and “ran” 2 more before racing a Sky Marathon on Whiteface. That destroyed me. Then raced a trail half marathon the weekend after and PR’d.

I had accepted that my low mileage would be ok. Maybe im just a low mileage runner? At least I wouldn’t be going into the race injured.

But then. I hurt my foot.

trainingMileage
How’s that look for ultra training?
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So yeah. 1 week and I somehow twisted my foot in a way to injure the top/side/arch… It feels a lot better just 3 days after… but it’s still swollen, and some faint bruising. I definitely can’t run on it yet.

Foot death.

Crazy how you can run all kinds of races. Hike and run for 24 hours in a week. But in less than 2 miles in one of the easiest places to trail run (Bay Park West), you ruin your foot? I had an awesome injury free streak going.

It’s weird. Im use to things just going away. But I keep waking up and it’s still there. I’m slightly concerned. But running a 100 will still happen.

Also – It could definitely be worse. I’ve just never been sidelined before, so I’m a huge baby and am going to complain about this!
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So the plan for BR100?

  • Just run. and finish under 30 hours. but I’d love to be closer to 24.
  • I’ll have an awesome crew and pacers, and an awesome Dan-o that’ll be somewhere out there.
  • Try not to die. but if I do – I’m ok with death by running.
  • If I can’t run till race day, I’m just keeping up with strength training. Not much I can do now, other than repair my foot, and get more sleep.
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    Goals in life.
  • Never DNF.
  • Never DNS.
  • Never be comfortable. I never what to be 100% about something. I have to go in with some concerns – you never know what will happen – in life and in races.
  • Stay consistent, but also be competitive.
  • Always try something new. You never know what you’re missing. It could be the one thing you needed!
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So this year I’ve been a low mileage runner. But have done better at most races. I have to give credit to the Rossi strength training though. Low mileage plus increased strength = good running.

Also – I love racing a lot more than just running. I could go on a rant about racing. but I won’t. Maybe later. Maybe after Burning River… oh yeah….

… Burning River. I’m nervous. The end.