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.
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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.
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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

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Cayuga Trails 50

I volunteered at Ontario Summit Trail Marathon (and half marathon) on Saturday. Watched my crew and other great people run, crush, and suffer through a brutal course and ridiculously humid and hot day. Hung out in the woods for 8 hours. Tried to keep hydrated while hydrating others. It was awesome.

My stomach was not awesome. As Saturday went on, my stomach felt more like poop. It became the only thing I worried about for Cayuga. If my stomach could feel normal again, I’d be good to go. I eventually left Ontario Summit Races to drive to Ithaca and picked up my race packet. Matt B followed me. We then drove to the motel (Grahaven) which was super awesome, and the rest of the crew eventually arrived. Next step was food. I was scared to eat because of the state of my stomach. But burritos happened anyway.

I convinced Matt to drive us to wegmans. I bought some Kambucha and pepto. Kambucha does amazing things. Sleep happened sometime around 12am, or later… don’t remember.

2:30am came fast. Got ready. Coffee and oatmeal. Left for Robert Treman State Park by 5am.
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Race start: No time goals. The week coming up to this day consisted of me figuring out what my goal should be. I needed a simple a goal. I wanted to think about it as little as possible. So I decided I wanted to feel good for more than half of this race. That was the goal.

Matt B taking pics of me at the start.

Matt B taking pics of me at the start.

I started easy. Felt comfortable through the first 2 aid stations. Just after getting through the underpass aid station, you run through some water. I proceeded without caution. Unknowing that it would be 3 feet deep. I fell. Both calf’s cramped up. I couldn’t move. I sat in the water holding my legs, while I was surrounded by photographers, and runners asking if I was ok. Apparently my face of pain, looked like I was laughing. Two guys behind me grabbed me by the arms and helped me up, told me I had to keep moving. People are awesome. That was mile 7/8ish. I was convinced my race was over, I was in for a day of suffering.

About a mile or less later, you come to the first huge climb. My calf’s were still tight. I used the 550 ft climb to stretch them out, which actually worked really well.

First 8 miles. (GPS was off by 3 ish miles by the end of the race)

First 8 miles. (GPS was off by 3 ish miles by the end of the race)

It’s hard to remember little details after that. Around mile 12 you go down the 500 ft of stairs. My only thought was that I would eventually have to go up this twice. Great.

Eventually I stopped being conservative, and would run hard when I felt good. Walk hills when I had to. Walk stairs.
9_31
I found myself being able to run for long stretches. There were long periods of downhill running, which was super fun. Most of the course was completely runnable. All of it was beautiful. I took in every second of it – loved almost every minute.
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My goal of feeling good for 50k was succesful. But barely made it. I fell apart between underpass aid station and Buttermilk the second time. I wasn’t looking at my watch at all until now. I looked and expected to see 36 or so miles. My watch said 32. It had to be wrong.

There was a distinguished moment where I felt tired. Sleepy. I knew it was a food thing. It started pouring. I got cold. I got sad. Where was Coach. Where was buttermilk? Why is this taking so long… I thought about my crew. I thought about #trailsroc. All I wanted to do was stop, and curl up in a ball and cry.

I was a mess. I really didn’t want people to see me like this. I knew any minute I would get there, so I’d pull myself together, but fall apart again. Things started looking familiar, I heard things. I was close. I turned a corner and Mike was waiting for me. He asked me something, I managed some noises and tried to smile. Saw Matt B next, then Chris and Jeff. There was one thing I kept thinking about coming up to this. I think this is a Dean quote.

“The ultramarathon doesn’t build character, it reveals it…. no communication is ever more real, no expression ever more honest.”

I thought of this when I felt good, when I felt sad. And every time it made it hard to breath. Everytime I thought about Mike Welden. Matt Bertrand. Chris O’Brien. Jeff Green. 4 people who were following me through the woods all day. Made it to every aid station – Twice. Never missed me. Overwhelming amount of love I feel for these people.
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The cheers from #trailsroc made me totally forget I wanted to sit down. I told Ron I was freaking out. Told Matt I think I needed my gloves. Mike ran and got them for me. I stood there holding them with useless swollen, and wet hands. Matt failed at putting them on for me. Danielle Snyder succeeded. I don’t remember much of what was said there – but I remember it being pretty hilarious. I stole a salt tab, pickle, m&m’s and a couple of oreos – and was on my way again. It was gonna be a long 13 mile walk back to the finish… so I thought.
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The trail back from Buttermilk aid station was pretty much all down hill. At some point I started running, and didn’t stop until I got to back to underpass. I was feeling good. Mike gave me the last salt tab. I think I had a few terra chips. Probably some more Oreos. Crew told me I could break 10 hours. I wanted to. It’d be close, but I knew the stairs were coming up soon. I told the crew I was about to go crawl up them – I was serious.

I ran most of the way to the epic stair climb. I hugged the side of the stairs, using my hands to take the weight off my legs. Walked up sideways. Told innocent bystanders to not mind my ridiculousness. Where were photographers now? Why didn’t I crawl up the first time? This was so much easier, and the stairs flew by.
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I couldn’t remember if there was another aid station after the stairs, or if I was in for the home stretch. But soon enough I was at Old Mill aid station. I flew by the crew. Heard Mike say some words like “take it” or something. Ok. I didn’t stop. Ran by the aid station. These last few miles were all downhill… supposedly. I wanted sub 10. There were hills. I ran up them. Then there were more stairs… I looked at my watch. Not gonna happen. But I tried to get as close as possible.
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I had passed this guy from Toronto after the last aid station – and he eventually caught back up to me. He asked me what I ate at the last aid station to make me fly by him. I said nothing. But I said I had a pickle earlier. We ran together for the last 2 miles, and I pulled ahead of him for the finish. Finishing didn’t seem real. This day didn’t seem real. Finish time said 10:08.

Photo by Matt B

Photo by Matt B

Things I fueled with (I can’t remember what order):
Picky bar was first (after 45 minutes).
Water. A chocolate cliff gel. Half of another picky bar.
Oreos. M&M’s. Salt tabs and more water. Lots of water.
1 pickle. Terra chips.

Things I learned:
– Being able to laugh at yourself, and find humor in the hardest obstacles is a powerful tool. The minute you feel sorry for yourself, you lose.
– I recognised that my emotional state was a lack of calories.
Knowing this helped me keep moving, and once I replaced the sugar and salt,
I was good to go.
– Make simple goals.

Things I should have done different:
– Eat more pickles.
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After I finished I went to return my tracking chip. USL.TV had live tracking and broadcasting of the event. They asked if I would do a quick interview. I struggled with the idea of talking… but sure. Why not. I did plenty of embarrassing, and ridiculous things already… whats one more.

Photo thanks to creeper Chris :p

Photo thanks to creeper Chris :p


I’m overwhelmed with the amount of support I had at the event and from home. I learned that Kyle and his parents were all watching the live tracking, and videos. His parents had seen me on the screen a few times.

If Facebook could explode – it did on Sunday. I wanted to sit there are “like” every single comment. Thank every single person. But a “like” and thank you didn’t seem like enough. Instead… no words. No words can describe the weekend, other than … Not real. Rochester is awesome. #trailsroc and Medved, Roads are poisen, Trailmethods – Thank you – I’d be a lonely runner without you.

Eat and Run

We all lose sometimes. We fail to get what we want. Friends and loved ones leave. We make a decision we regret. We try our hardest and come up short. It’s not the losing that defines us. It’s how we lose. It’s what we do afterward. – Scott Jurek in Eat and Run

I finally finished this book. Sadly – yes. It’s taken me over a year. I love the idea of reading. I like it when I actually sit down and do it. What gets me is that it’s stopping and doing nothing for an unknown amount of time.Β  My goal for this year is to read more often. I average about 1 book a year. In 2012 I might have read 2.

I finished “Eat and Run” last night while I couldn’t sleep. Read till about 1:30am. And woke up at 5am. It’s ok though because sleep is overrated. Read THIS – Article in OutsideOnline – Dean Karnazes averages 4 hours of sleep a night, and he’s awesome. His book “Run” is awesome too.

So reading is on the 2015 resolution list. So is nutrition.

I am officially registered for Cayuga Trails 50. So I figure serious training will take more than me just running hard and sticking to the training plan. I need to eat right. And get these internal issues figured out. So – Im cutting out junk. Starting yesterday. Staying away from too much sugar, and snacks after dinner. Everytime I do this I feel so much better. Currently, we actually don’t eat bad at all. Pretty much live off 12 different kinds of rice, sweet potatoes, beans (Mung Beans – my favorite), yogurt, fruit, veggies, oatmeal. We make wraps with hummus. Burgers out of portobello mushrooms. Rarely eat pasta. Rarely eat meat. Our downfall is sugar – cookies, chocolate, poptarts, cereal, trail mixes.

* Something I learned from finishing Eat and Run last night – There’s a herb that makes beans more digestible – Dried Epazote – Can be found in the Mexican food section of a grocery store. But heck yes – more digestible is always good. *

So after registering for Cayuga, I looked at the course and elevation. Pretty intimidating. Just means I gotta stick to the training.
elevation
course Map

This race makes me nervous in so many ways. 6am start time. Possibly staying overnight before the race = pre-race routine out the window? Whether or not my morning goes like other race mornings – There’s really not much control in an Ultra. If I can get through this winter, I’ll be good to go.

The Ultra distance forgives injury, fatigue, bad form, and illness. A bear with determination will defeat a dreamy gazelle every time.

– Eat and Run.

Worst Races?

I started thinking and writing this post a few weeks ago before WTF. 2013 ended with me feeling pretty defeated – it was the year of Marathons. And instead of getting better – I got worse at them. I started thinking about the worst races I have had. Here it goes:

There’s only 2 that qualify – Only 2 that I wanted to stop and quit.
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First: Senior year of Cross Country in college. It was our first race of the season, in August… in Georgia. It was hot and humid. I had already been having a rough pre-season. No energy, I had a constant side stitch for who knows why… even when I wasn’t running. I could barely run for 10 minutes in practices. So then comes our first race. I told my coach on the bus that this wasn’t going to go well. I really didn’t want to run. But he always said to give it all you had. If you’re at 75% that day – give 100% of that 75%. I was at 15%.

So we warmed up – I could barely handle that 10 minutes. The race starts. This course was 3 loops, pretty flat but did have one big hill. I start to notice that the ground was moving way more than usual. Every step made it seem like the earth was shaking. I realise – I’m dizzy. I wanted to walk. But that would look lame. The guys were yelling at me to run faster – I was shuffling along at a 12 min/mile. I was so tempted to just collapse and be done with this race. But I shuffled along. Finally it was the last loop – I was sure I was last. Hobbled up the big hill one last time, and came down to finish. I saw the finish line – but don’t remember finishing.

Next thing I know I’m sitting in a chair next to the finish, and people are handing me Gatorade. Then I start puking. My world was still spinning. My coach said I was white. The medics said I should get an IV. After some convincing they did. I was pretty embarrassed, and said sorry to my coach for sucking. I found out later that another girl on the team fainted and didn’t finish.
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Second: Niagara Falls International Marathon. This was more recent – just last year (2013). It was great for a while, super cool running from Buffalo to Canada and running over the bridge. But things went down hill fast, when I realised I was getting tired… and it was only mile 8. The rest of the race consisted of a straightaway along the river… I could see where I would be finishing, but I wouldn’t get there for another couple of hours. It was windy, cold… I was wearing shorts and a tank top. Was unprepared for 40 degree weather.

I started walking around mile 15. And that was it. I was cold. I was done. I was crying. I would see medics driving by and I desperately wanted to catch a ride. I cried for probably 8 miles running and walking. It was mentally the hardest race I’ve ever done. I did at one point end up running with this guy who completely saved the race for me. I ran with him the last 3 miles – and I would eventually run with him again at Mind the Ducks πŸ™‚ . I finished my worst marathon ever – 4 hours and 15 minutes. Felt completely traumatized. Was mentally exhausted. Went home and curled up in a hot shower and cried.
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I’ve had a number of other terrible races. Extreme bloody nose = coughing up blood. Stomach issues – curling up on the side of a trail in multiple races. I’ve cried in 5 out of the 6 Marathons I’ve done. Disney World Marathon is a close #3 for worst race. Serious stomach issues – only marathon where a bathroom break was necessary (still not a worst time tho). But the thought of quitting was never there. Pushing yourself through a terrible race is mentally exhausting… especially if it’s a long one.

There’s something I hate about Marathons. Maybe it’s a mental thing because I’ve had terrible experiences – except for my first one (Chicago was awesome). Even the Trail Marathon (Sehgahunda) was rough – but not nearly as traumatizing. So Im considering ditching Ontario Summit Marathon in May for Cayuga Trails 50.

Cayuga was my original idea – until Ontario Summit appeared out of nowhere and got me all excited. But now Im thinking… oh yeah, it’s a Marathon. I hate Marathons. (However I’m sure this one will be awesome). Such a hard decision. My heart wants Cayuga – The probability of me registering for it is 100%. My head hates the idea that I cannot also do Ontario Summit… (same weekend). I wish I could do stupid things and run both anyway – but if I do Cayuga I want to finish it, and not die.

The end.