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

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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.

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Lost and Found on the Great Range.

On January 1st 2015 I created an event for traversing the Adirondack Great Range.

This is something I’ve wanted to do since 2011. I had a failed attempt – and luckily only got to Lower Wolfjaw with 1 other friend. I don’t think either of us would have been capable back then.

The plan was to hike around the summer solstice – so we’d have plenty of daylight. So I chose June 25th – 29th. Plenty of days to choose the best weather. Cause good weather is cool. Also the Whiteface Skymarathon was that weekend – so lots of other runner friends were already planning on being there.
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Here goes: This is about to contain 4 days and about 30 hours of hiking. I might be able to condense it into an hour of reading. If you read as slow as I do. If your lucky it might take 15 minutes.
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Day 1 – Thursday – June 25th, 2015

Phelps. With Kyle and Jeff. We ran about 4 miles of this (round trip) from Heart Lake. Kyle hiked in his Luna Sandles. I totally underestimated the distance. Thinking it wouldn’t take much more than 2 hours. Took almost 4. A good pre-view of how the weekend would go.

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We got back to camp and were eventually joined by Mark, Matt, Jason, and Ron. Had some bagels and peanut butter for dinner. Came up with a plan for Fridays hike, since we decided we would be doing the traverse on Saturday. Jeff had mentioned an Avalanche Pass loop that went up Algonquin and Iroquois. I like loops. I liked the idea of a long scenic hike by the lake. It wouldn’t be too much the day before the Range. Right?
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Day 2 – Friday – June 25th, 2015

We met up with everyone around 7am. Trails were easy up by Avalanche Lake. Cool walkways and ladders and things.
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Eventually it gets more technical, with climbing and waterfalls and stuff. I hadn’t seen much of Kyle. He was either way ahead of everyone, or way behind. I was having fun. I wanted everyone to have fun. I hadn’t seen him smile, or laugh. How could someone look so miserable in a place like this? I was concerned. Something was up.

Hiking up waterfalls.

Hiking up waterfalls.

Long story short. Kyle was in a mental state that I recognized. I’ve been there. It was dark. It was the worst day we’ve ever had together. He was breaking down. It took every part of me not to join him.

There’s really no way of pulling someone out of their own head. I felt helpless. Things that you hold in on a daily basis get amplified. The truest thoughts come out. Honest things are spoken. It’s one of the worst places to be, but I think a necessary thing to experience.

Kyle and I hiked at the back of the pack up towards Algonquin. We eventually reached the others before they went over to Iroquois. Kyle started heading up Algonquin and was planning on continuing to the campsite. I was torn. Do I get one more high peak? And let Kyle hike alone? I went with Kyle.

Intersection between Iroqious and Algonquin

Intersection between Iroquois and Algonquin

Top of Algonquin

Top of Algonquin

We looked back at one point and saw the others already up on “Iroquois”. I thought… “that was fast”. So I dropped my bag and ran down Algonquin, and up what I thought was Iroquois. Got to the top, to find I would have to go down and up again… so I ran back over to Algonquin. I tried.

Kyle said he wouldn’t be joining us on the traverse Saturday. I still wanted to do it.

We ended up with about 13 miles of hiking. We got back to camp. Set up our hammock. Jason and Ron eventually came over, we talked to them for a bit. The rest of the crew got back. We started to figure out who was still up for the traverse, and how it was going to work.

At one point Kyle asked… so what time are we getting up? – 3am.

I was relieved. and slightly terrified. Kyle was gonna come. But I don’t think I could mentally handle another day like today. Once you reach the bottom though, you never hit quite as hard again.
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Day 3 – June 27th, 2015

The Great Range Traverse.

I woke up before my alarms, at about 2:48am. Started getting ready, and boiled some water for some french press coffee and hot cocoa. Kyle actually got up. So did Matt – who said he would be playing it by ear this morning.

Jason, Danielle and Ron drove up to our site. Jeff, Kyle and I piled into Matt’s car. We were on our way to Roostercomb trailhead. The sky was already bright at 4:30am. So much for needing headlamps.

We said fair well to Ron. Began our hike at about 5:15am.

The beginning - at Roostercomb trailhead.

The beginning – at Roostercomb trailhead.

I had hiked from here to Lower Wolfjaw before, and knew it would be the most annoying part of the day. It’s a lot of nothing. Nothing exciting. For 3.5 hours. We accidentally hiked up Roostercomb mountain.

Things started getting more exciting from Upper Wolfjaw and on. It became a series of scrambling, climbing and sliding down rocks. I had decided as soon as Kyle said he was coming – that I would always stay in the back. Trying to prevent any mental events by making sure no one felt like they were being left behind.

View from Armstrong.

View from Armstrong.

We really did have a random group of people. I didn’t know Danielle or Jason too well. Kyle was there. He doesn’t do much running stuff or know many of the running people. Matt, Jeff, and I…. not so random I guess. It was perfect though.

We left Armstrong Mountain, and before we knew it we were summiting Gothics. I thought Gothics had sweet cables and stuff? Part of me was disappointed, it wasn’t the Gothics I had hoped for. Until we started to descend. πŸ™‚

Favorite photo of the trip.

Favorite photo of the trip.

Cables!

Cables!

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The summit to Saddleback came up pretty quick as well.

Saddleback.

Saddleback.

The decent from Saddleback was some of the funnest.
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Miles were slow, conversations were ridiculous and awesome. Hours flew by.

Hard to remember what peak is what now - I think this is Basin?

Hard to remember what peak is what now – I think this is Basin?

After Basin it’s a long stretch of hiking before you reach another high peak. We were on our way to Mt. Haystack. The talk of water being low started to come up. I was excited that we might actually need to try out one of the 3 water filtering things I brought.

We got to a trail intersection, and Jeff said we could drop our packs and hike up to Haystack quick. I liked the idea of not carrying anything for a bit – so heck yes.

We got to the top – to find out we were on Little Haystack, we’d have to go down and up again to Haystack. Thanks Jeff.

The view from Haystack was so good. Amazing. So far my favorite in the ADK.

On little Haystack, looking at Haystack.

On little Haystack, looking at Haystack.

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I was scared to ask Jeff what time it was on our decent from Haystack. I liked not knowing. Also had no idea how long we’ve been hiking. He eventually told me. 12 hours.

It was a long hike to Marcy. At this point we were playing it by ear, whether we would actually hike it or not. I was starting to see glimpses of the day before in Kyles face. We got to a trail intersection, and decided we would hike up to little Marcy and check things out. Everyone wanted to do Marcy. We’ve gotten this far – what’s one more.

Little Marcy was strangely windy. Real Marcy was not.
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Yayyy were done - now a 4.5 hour walk home...

Yayyy were done – now a 4.5 hour walk home…

3 of the best dudes and Marcy in the backround.

3 of the best dudes and Marcy in the background.

It was getting late once we were on Marcy. 6pm ish? Headlamps and night hiking would most definitely be happening on our walk home.

I was secretly excited for it to get dark. The trails would be easy by then, and it would make things slightly more interesting. I was not prepared for everything to look completely different. It felt like it took forever to reach sections of a trail we recognized. We kept second guessing whether we were on the right ones or not – but we had to be. Pretty much everyone was out of water. I had given Kyle the last of my water at Marcy. At some point on the night walk, I started to feel really dizzy.
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I stayed with Kyle and Danielle for most of the hike back. Jason eventually joined us. Matt and Jeff were up front – and eventually took off running(!?). I figured Matt had decided he would run his Mile (He runs everyday and has a streak of over 500 days – Has to run at least a mile). Jeff was keeping him company. My nose started running like crazy. What the heck! I eventually looked at my hand to see it was all bloody. Random nose bleed. Dizzy. Dieing – probably.

We eventually saw 2 headlamps in the distance. Matt and Jeff!!! They came back for us. Turns out Matt had a mental freak out and wanted to be done – so he ran to the finish. Then felt bad. He’s awesome.
We reached the trail head at Heart Lake. A strange feeling to be done after almost an 18 hour day. This was by far the longest and best day I’ve ever spent in the woods. Days and weekends like this make me wish I could live off blueberries and sweet potatoes, and live outside. In a hammock. Run and hike everyday. Running is the job. Or as Matt, Jeff and I decided – we would become professional hikers.
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We walked back to the campsites. We still had to go back and get Matt’s car from Roostercomb trailhead – a 30 minute drive. So an hour round trip. It was already around 11pm. We took our time though – and ate left over pizza from the day before and the infamous garlic knobs (They were actually called knots – but over the course of the traverse became known as knobs).

Jason shuttled Matt and I back to Roostercomb. I made sure Matt didn’t fall asleep or drive us into a mountain. We watched Jason pull into a gas station, and 5 minutes later became worried that we should have waited for him. It had to be open…. right? (apparently all gas stations close super early there)

I was hoping Kyle and Jeff would still be up when we got back – I didn’t want to go to bed. We got back and Kyle and Jeff had made a fire. It was starting to rain though, so eventually we all retreated into Matt’s tent.

Matt’s tent. Had a hinged door. A bucket for dirty sneakers. Light switch controlled lights. AND a cot. And a sleeping bag, with another sleeping bg opened up so to act as a blanket. As we sat and talked and drank cider and beer, I would notice Matt inching closer to the pillow. Eventually we looked over and Matt was out. The 3 of us sat on the floor of his tent until Kyle was folded over, and Jeff was horizontal. I wasn’t tired. Or. well – it was more like I didn’t want the day to end.
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Day 4 – Sunday July 28th

The original plan for Sunday was to watch people run the Whiteface Sky Marathon. 19ish miles on the slopes of Whiteface Mountain. This included watching Jeff race after the full 3 days of hiking. Plans changed when Jeff decided he wasn’t going to race. Also when the weather decided to be terrible that morning. Instead we met up with Jason, made sure he didn’t run out of gas (it was also his birthday) – and went out to breakfast.

We took down Marks tent. Witnessed tent homicide. Ron’s tent got stabbed (It was leaking and were given instructions to throw it out).

We said bye to Matt. He left his bachelor pad at the site incase our tents were too wet. We ended up using it as storage.

Mark stopped by to get his tent – He had just been running on Whiteface. Told us tales of 40 mile/hr winds, pouring rain, and hand numbing cold. He reported that many of the racers cut it short due to the conditions, and that it was a ridiculously hard course.

Eventually Jeff and I decided to hike/run one last high peak. So we picked Cascade – pretty quick and easy. Under 2 hours and 5 miles round trip.

Cascade in a cloud.

Cascade in a cloud.

The run down from Cascade was one of the coolest runs I’ve done. We were running down a creek bed. Lots of water, mud, rocks. I was wearing hiking pants that were falling down and a button up long sleeve shirt. Less than ideal running clothes. Just adds to the randomness of this trip and epicness of things.

We made a fire. It wasn’t raining (It was supposed to rain all day). Then boiled some water via Jetboil. We had 2 boxes of starwars mac and cheese, and pretzel bagels. Plenty for Kyle, Jeff and I. We toasted our bagels like marshmallows. Kyle and Jeff ate their mac and cheese with spoons. I used a fork.

Our fire was awesome. Another night a didn’t want to end.
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Cliff notes.

  • Carry more water than you think you’ll need. If you don’t need it someone else probably will. – I gave Kyle half of a nalgene of water, 1 full bottle of water, and half of my Gatorade bottle. Leaving me pretty curious about how much water I actually drank. I almost brought 1 more bottle – and should have.
  • Bring food. Real food is even better. We stopped at each peak and would eat something. And at one point actually called it “lunch”, which was cool.
  • As proved by Kyle – you don’t have to be a runner or hiker to be able to complete the range. He does have a running and endurance back round though, which is something you’ll never lose completely.
  • The Traverse is definitely not something anyone can do though – well at least not in one day.
  • The Traverse is more of an obstacle course.
  • Jason is officially THE nicest guy I know.
  • Jeff is an awesome trail guide. And loves maps. And is almost as easy to talk to as Matt.
  • Danielle is a super strong hiker, and strangely daredevilish.
  • Matt bought pants. Wore them for the traverse. Destroyed them. Returned them.
  • Danielle found a stick, used it for a while. She got tired of it, and Jason decided he would carry it to the end. Until Jason discarded it – and Jeff couldn’t let it go. The stick made it half way through the range, but the rock climbing and scrambling became too much for it.
  • Casualties from the Great Range – Matt’s pants. The stick.
  • Kyle was awarded MVP of the Great Range. Mostly because he kept his winter hat on the entire day.
  • No one died. No broken limbs.

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I seem to be gathering multiple days that qualify as “best days of my life”. Cayuga was one. This ADK weekend was totally. I was glad Kyle could finally experience one of these epic adventures with me. It makes it hard to have normal weekends, when all I want to do is spend days in the woods. I also like being around people? what?

There are two other tales of this hike on the Great Range. Read Matt’s story – which is probably the freshest, as he spit it out within 2 hours of getting home. Or read Jeff’s video game style, with accurate drawings of how the day unfolded.

I think thats all.

The end.

 

 

Training Cont’d – onto Niagara Falls International Marathon!

Training Update:

Rochester Marathon Training
Week 1: Goal 31 miles – I ran 28.6
Week 2: Goal 41 miles – I ran 40.4
Week 3: Goal 46 miles – I ran 22.25
Week 4: Goal 46 miles – I ran 42.4
Week 5: Goal 51 miles – I ran 36.3
Week 6: Goal 36 miles – I ran 21.3
Week 7: Goal 51 miles – I ran 28.1
Week 8: Goal 53 miles – I ran 46.6
Week 9: Goal 52 miles – I ran 31.3
Week 10: Goal 41 miles – I ran 32
Week 11: Goal 57 miles – I ran 31.3
Week 12: Goal 55 miles – I ran 33.3
Week 13: Goal 49 miles – I ran 24.5
Week 14: Goal 44 miles – I ran 20.8
Week of Rochester Marathon: I ran 10.25
–Niagara Falls Training Starts – 4 weeks–
Week 16: I ran 31.2 miles (includes Rochester Marathon)

It was a hectic week after the Marathon – I wanted to jump right back in and start running, but something would keep coming up and I’d run out of time. Yesterday I could finally go for a run and I wanted to make it a long one – I felt good for 3 miles, but then started getting these weird sharp pains in my calf. So I stopped and tried to stretch it out, but nothing helped. I decided I would cut my run short – but I was still about 4 miles from home, so I ran another mile or so, and had to stop again. I walked, then I’d get tired of walking and try to run, then I’d have to walk again…. it was the longest 2 miles ever. I got home and I’ve never had a muscle hurt like my calf did…. It hurt to move my leg, move my foot, I could barely touch it – it was so sensitive. I tried to roll it out, but that was an awful idea…. I iced it, that didn’t help. Finally I took a shower, and that seemed to loosen it up. It’s still sore and I can pin-point the spot…

I don’t think I’ll be doing much running before Niagara – Were hiking some high peaks in the ADK’s next weekend. I’m going to the gym today to elliptical, and planning on the gym all this week. Need my calf to get better before the hike – and don’t want to risk injuries for Niagara.

Other things I accomplished this last week – I made an Adventure Time cake for a friends birthday. Made out of 4 different kinds of cake, AND a brownie on the bottom. The character is Jake.
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I made a very similar cake for Kyles B-day last year. I think this one is the best I’ve done so far. His eye’s are birthday cake oreos.
Also – here’s some pics from the Rochester Marathon.
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The End

Oh yeah… Chicago…

 

 

 

I looked at a calender the other day, and realized there is only next month separating me and the Chicago Marathon. Β I also realized I haven’t done any of the long training runs… oops. I got so distracted by my foot, and other races, time flew by. But today I accomplished the longest run I’ve ever done by myself that wasn’t a race – 12.89 miles. Took me an hour and 45 min. I stopped once around mile 9 to try one of those cliff gel things (i’ve never tried a goo or gel, or eating anything while running). Surprisingly, Im a fan. I also ran with my handy Nathan water belt for the first time, I’m a fan of that too.

Right now my foot is in a bucket of ice. And it hurts. But I think thats mostly cause its really cold. I wish it would just get better, cause it doesn’t seem to be getting any worse.

I did a couple races last week. Wednesday was the dirt cheap trail race #5 – only one more left next month. My current series standing is 4th overall, and 3rd for my age group.

For the Dirt Cheap at Webster park:
I was 64th out of 360
7th female out of 113
4th in my age group
My time was 48:39 (somewhere between 5 and 6 miles)

I also did the 5k run for Lupus on Saturday:
I was 1st female overall
5k time was 21:36 – not my best, but it was a small race.
Official results aren’t posted yet – so I don’t know any other details.

Kyle and I are off to the Adirondacks this weekend. If the weather is good I hope to do 3 of the high peaks.