Twisted Branch 100k – 2017

I woke up on August 20th. Wide awake after 4 hours of sleep. Headache. I moved a few inches. Everything hurt. My skin felt sore. Take the covers off – I’m covered in scratches and bruises. I crawl to the bathroom. My knees wont unbend. My foot doesn’t work.

I’d like to think my nutrition was pretty good throughout the day. Zero falls – I was really careful not to totally destroy my foot.

So why does everything feel so terrible?
——————————————————–
I crossed the Twisted Branch finish line for the 2nd time. I had high hopes of a daylight finish – since we started 2 hours earlier. But found myself out there for 18 hours – cause that’s just what happens.
——————————————————–
I could go hour by hour and section by section and say what happened. But it’s nothing you haven’t heard before. Even when you go into this race knowing what to expect. Knowing how hard it is – and telling yourself it’ll be twice as hard as you think or remember. It’s relentless.

It teases you with a pretty do-able 40 miles. You can get to bud valley thinking “that could’ve been worse”. You run off to start the last 25 – maybe with a pacer now. I chose to go solo.

Then you hit climbs. Not the longest, or steepest. But they come after you’ve been running for a while, and you realize you have no legs. I think Brandon Stafford said it best. “That course is just so hard to get a rhythm and keep running. It felt like every 100ft there was an obstical that broke your stride enough to say. Meh… i’ll walk a bit.”
———————————————————–
I predicted 10 hours to get to Bud Valley (Mile 40)- I got there in 9:22. I knew the last 25 would be at least 6 hours.  I wasn’t feeling a pacer. I knew getting to Urbana (mile 60) would be rough.
———————————————————–
I questioned finishing.  I had no reason not too…. other than wanting to sleep. I also thought about Scott – I wanted it to be a great year for him, and I wanted to help his finisher #’s.

I also remembered I was out there because I needed this day. A day of nothing else to do but get to Keuka by foot. Quality alone time. Quality community time. And just be outside – on a pretty amazing trail.

Mile 40 – Photo by Mom

My favorite part will always be Mitchellsville to Urbana. Its only 3ish miles. But this trail is so fun. So runnable. Even after feeling like I had no running in me – It’s like everything went numb. I ran this section – and ran it “hard”. Compared to the 20 minute miles I had been doing – 10 minute miles felt like a sprint.

Felt so good to run downhills – hadn’t had any that felt good all day. I passed folks. Got to Urbana in 33 minutes.

Live tracking splits.

———————————————————-
I was lucky to find Strat and Jeff in Urbana. I knew it’d be at least 2 hours to do the last 4(or actually 6) miles.

Strat jumped in with me. It was nice having someone there for the dark hours.

We walked. Ridiculously slow. I just wanted to stop moving. But every bit of this race – I would flash back to the first year. These images were so clear, and kind of haunting. I missed it. And felt lucky to see it all again. Lucky to have been joined by MPF/RNR teammates. All having great and challenging day. The finish is always worth the struggle.

Definitely a twisted creation. Dare you to run this next year.
Thanks again Scott.
The end.
————————————————–

What to do next?
Fast 50k September 30th on the Deleware Watergap – Watergap 50k
Hard Mountain Marathon October 14th in the Catskills – Cats Tail
PR your 5k in this downhill 5 miler October 28thAll Down Hill from Here

2015 Team Welden.

2015 Pultney road. I was lucky to run this section with one of my top favorite trail runners this year – Tommy! – Photo by John Green.

2015 training run – we found Phillip – AKA Copper – in the cornfield. And he ran 3 miles with us. I remembered him as I ran through those trails.

Twisted tree. Lucky to have seen it 3 times. Photo by John Green.

Advertisements

Looking at Twisted Branch 100k – take 2

It took a long time to forget the emotional trauma of the inaugural Twisted Branch. I finished. But never expected to be chasing cut-offs and battling my body to the finish line. The things that happened along the way were hard physically – but I had more emotional issues. –>(My report from 2015)

So I’m back. Thanks to friends.
——————————————————————–
One week from now I’ll be 6 hours into my second attempt. Trying to kill me with a 4am start time!!

My last real run was O SPF – on July 15th. 13ish miles. The day after I ran 6 miles super easy…. and decided I would need to take a break if my foot would ever hold up for Twisted.

I’m currently ellipticalling, Bikraming, and Josh Rossi classing (at Fore Performance) my way to the start line.

I’ve been seeing Dr. Nick – Chiropractor at Simply Health Chiropractic. He’s been doing laser treatments 2/3 times a week, to help reduce inflammation. I’ve been trying to be good about doing recovery stuff on my own – but I still forget.

Goals for Twisted:
– I really don’t know
– Not have so many problems.

Would I have a pacer? – I’m currently not planning on it.
I love racing alone. Although my pacers from 2015 were awesome. If I somehow acquire 2 pacers again – I wouldn’t turn them away.
———————————————————————
In typical big race fashion – work has picked up again. Which means long days, late nights, little sleep. Less training. At this point my training goals are just getting more than 5 hours of sleep. And when I can work out – sweating as much as possible.

As always – I’m excited to have nothing to do other than spend the entire day in the woods. Totally expecting an 18 hour day. I wouldn’t mind a daylight finish though.

photo by John Green – 2015


As of right now – My foot definitely feels better. I’ve gone for a few runs. I don’t think it will ever be pain-free – I think I’ve just traumatized it too much, and ignored it too much. ha

Maybe some day I’ll get it checked out – but for now, I think it’ll be ok.
As long as I don’t kick any roots.

The end.

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.
————————————————–
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.
—————————————————-
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.
—————————————————-
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.
——————————————————————————
As for 2017. I’ve now done 15 ultras. I have favorites.
But MOTG is the current leader.

Why? It was perfect.
——————————————————————————
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.
——————————————————————————-
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.
——————————————————————————–
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.
——————————————————————————–
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.
———————————————————————————
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.
—————————-
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.
————————————
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.
——————————————-
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.
———————————————————————–
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.
———————————————————————–
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

———————————————————————–
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.
————————————————————————
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.
————————————————————————
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.
————————————————————————-
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.
—————————————————————-
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.
—————————————————————-

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.
——————————————————————-
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

——————————————————————
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.

——————————————————————
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)

——————————————————————
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.
——————————————————————
Ran Watergap 50k in October. It went well until I had good old breathing issues – but still sub 5 hour.

Watergap 50k.

Watergap 50k.


——————————————————————
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.
———————————————
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.
———————————————
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.
———————————————-
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.
———————————————–
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.
———————————————–
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.
———————————————-
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.
———————————————-
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).
———————————————-
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 🙂
———————————————–
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.
—————————————————
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!
__________________________________________________________________________
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.
___________________________________________________________________________
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.
————————————————————————————
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?
____________________________________________________________________________________
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.
————————————————————————————-
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
————————————————————————————-
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

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

The end.