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.

–Β 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. Β 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’


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

But being alone is awkward. And kind of scary.
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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.

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.Β  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. πŸ™‚
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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 –Β  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.

Cayuga Trails 50 – 2016

Im a bit behind on race reports due to months of hectic work weeks. But here it is!

June 4th was Cayuga Trails 50 and Marathon. Consisted of 2 out and backs – from Robert Treman State Park to Buttermilk Falls and back. I ran this for the first time last year, and knew the course and what to expect. This year I was running with the Red Newt Racing and Mountain Peak Fitness team.

I went into the 50 miler with no weeks over 50 miles of training. No speed work. A few back to back long runs. Lots of strength training with Josh Rossi at Fore Performance. And a few good races that pushed me a bit. The lower mileage had everything feeling good, definitely wouldn’t be going into this injured.

I kept my goals simple and expectations low – as usual. 1. Have fun / 2. Smile even if I don’t want to / 3. Don’t let new team down / 4. If everything feels good – beat 10 hours.
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I was lucky to be going into this race surrounded by friends. Everyone from Rochester was running, or would be there.

The race starts with a photo of the MPF/RNR team.

Photo by Elizabeth Azze. Just a few members of the team.

Photo by Elizabeth Azze. Just a few members of the team.

The race also starts with a bunch of the ROC crew running together. I found myself going back and forth with Jeff and Dan Ward for almost the entire race. Dan Ward eventually lost me – and I eventually lost Jeff πŸ™‚
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So now I’ll keep this short. I felt great. I only stopped at aid stations to fill water, or grab a pickle, or chocolate covered almonds, but would keep moving with food in hand. I fell twice, which resulted in cramping twice. But was good to go in a few minutes. It seemed like all of the Rochester runners had the same idea for this race – Have fun – and be happy. Everyone I saw was awesome. I loved seeing Sean Storie from afar screaming “is that Rekkerth!?!”.

Scotie Jacobs probably saved the race for me at half way. I knew I was salty, I was just drinking water, and some Huma Gels. But he told me I need salt… and tossed a few at me, then stuffed 10 more in my Orange Mud vest, then told me to take 2 more soon. Thanks teammate πŸ™‚

Photo by John Green

Photo by John Green

Cayuga Trails 50 is a tough course – but extremely runnable. I’m not a huge fan of hills. But I love the ones here. They are spaced out to give you convenient walking/hiking breaks. And they end! Some are steep, but over quick. Stairs are… stairs – I like them, they’re fun. There’s long sections of awesome runnable trails – you’ll find yourself cruising for a while.

My Cayuga Splits:

Garmin dies just before the finish...

Garmin dies just before the finish…

I had no idea what my time would be as I was nearing the finish. I was feeling pretty good about beating last years time – but it felt very similar. I knew it would be close.

I finished in 10:06:43. (Last years time – 10:08:22) !

Finish - Photo by Elizabeth Azze

Finish – Photo by Elizabeth Azze

I was 56th out of 248
11th female out of 62
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I’m lucky to have great friends and awesome teammates to share the trails with. So grateful to run with the Mountain Peak Fitness and Red Newt Racing team! You get to know people fast when you run ultras together. Can’t wait for more!

As usual – the #trailsroc aid station was the best. Loved seeing everyone – and hearing Eric yell things.
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Check out the upcoming Red Newt Racing events!
– I wish I could do this one –> Lime Kiln
But it’s the same day as Burning River. Should be an awesome weekend – and probably won’t find many races like this one!

While your in event looking mode – check the the Trailsroc events too!

Oh yeah – p.s. 2 weeks till 100 time. I’ll do a pre 100 post.

the end.

2015

I ran 2235.75 miles.
I raced 322 miles (16 races)
I raced 4 Ultra’s (3 of them 50+ miles)… and ran 3 50k training runs.

Comparing 2014 and 2015:
2014 Β  Β  Β  Β  Β  Β  Β  Β  Β  Β  Β  Β  Β  Β Β  Β Β Β Β Β  2015
Ran 1610.9 MilesΒ  Β  Β  Β  Β  Β Β Β Β Β Β  Ran 2235.75 Miles
Raced 306.5 (24 Races) Β  Β  Β  Β  Raced 322 (16 Races)

That’s the simple way of summing up 2015.
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January – I started training with Mike. Each month we would hit 200+ miles. This is also when I started running with the crew (Mike, Chris O’brien, and Matt) – and Jeff Green appearances became more frequent.
FL50

February – Feb. 1st was the first run/meeting of Jason Vidmar. This is where I told him of our Great Range traverse idea, and he was immediately in.
– Ran Cast a Shadow relay with Matt and Kirsten.

Me, Kirsten and Matt

Me, Kirsten and Matt

March – Started doing Bikram Yoga.

April – Ran Muddy Sneaker. Also ran my first 50k training run – with Mike, Jeff, and Matt. Ran a 20 mile PR on the greenway with Mike and Jamie.

May – Ran 58 miles at MTD, and 2nd place. Watched Chris run Sehgahunda. Volunteered at OSTM.
Ran Cayuga Trails 50 — So far my all time favorite race. Cayuga was overwhelming, and the first time I didn’t want to come home. Cayuga will always be a special memory.

Final laps of Mind the Ducks 2015 with Coach Mike and Mertsock.

Final laps of Mind the Ducks 2015 with Coach Mike and Mertsock.

Photo by Matt B

Cayuga 50 2015 – Photo by Matt B

June – Ran the 2nd 50k training run of the year – with Mike, Jeff, Matt, and Josh. Ventured in the ADKS, with 4 days of hiking… 1 day being the Great Range Traverse – with Danielle, Jeff, Jason, Matt, and Kyle. (Ron and Mark joined for the pre-traverse hike).

3 of the best dudes and Marcy in the backround.

3 of the best dudes and Marcy in the background.

July – Found myself hiking in Taughannock Falls the day before FL50 with Jeff. Watched Jeff run FL50. Ran the 3rd 50k training run of the year – With Jeff, Mike, Dan-o, Matt, Josh. Ran O SPF (Trail Half). Watched Mike and Daven run Burning River 100. Paced Daven for 20.
— Burning river is when I discovered I loved to crew and pace just as much as I love racing.

Burning River finish

Burning River finish

twisted.jpg

Twisted Branch 100k – Me and Jeff

August – Ran the crescent trail with Dan-O, Jeff, Kendra, Lesher, Matt, Josh. Ran 10 mile sunrise run in OCP, then first slack line party – with Jeff, Matt, Josh, Jason, Ron, Chris, Mike Mertsock. Spent 2 days watching Mighty Mosquito and running 42 miles (35 saturday, 7 Sunday). Started Bouldering at Red Barn. Ran 20 miles with Jeff in Alleghany – after waking up at 3am to drive there. Bouldered on real rocks. Ran Twisted Branch 100k.
— I had a lot of time to think at Twisted Branch. I was not prepared for the emotions that day would bring. It started out as a joyous run through woods in the dark with friends. Quickly turned into a day of battles. Endless leg cramps. Couldn’t breath. Lung pain. Chest pain. Abandoning Jeff – who had stuck with me for over half. TB was soul sucking. I was pretty fine post 100k. But it took weeks to recover emotionally.

September – More rock climbing. Ossian Mountain run. Ran Virgil 100 relay – with Jeff, Jason, Danielle, and Katie. Ran in Hi-tor with Ben, Ron, Mertsock, Jeff, Jason, Chris. Ran in Canada with Jeff. Rock climbed real rocks in Canada.

Virgil Relay Team photo - Jason, me, Jeff, Katie, Danielle

Virgil Relay Team photo – Jason, me, Jeff, Katie, Danielle

October – Spur of the moment ADK trip with Jeff and friends (Peter, and Liz). Watched Daven run Oil Creek 100 – with Mike and Jeff. Paced Daven for 13. Ran Watergap 50k and started 30 minutes late. Jeff stayed with me the whole race – paced me to a 50k PR and 2nd female overall, with the 30 minute penalty. Ran back to back 5k and 12k trail races the weekend after Watergap.

Water Gap 50k

Water Gap 50k

November – Ventured back to the ADKs for some winter backpacking. Met up with Danielle, Mark, and Stacey for a day of hiking. Hiked Phelps Mt. for the 3rd time this year. Then Jeff and I set out for some Lean-tos by Avalanche Lake. We Jet boiled bag food. Did 3 days of hiking on 2 Nalgenes of water (this water also used to boil bag food). Hiked Mt. Skylight. I froze. Winter is pretty. I moved.

On our way to Skylight

On our way to Skylight

December – Started doing Bikram again. Crewed Hobbs at Hellgate 100k – with Jeff, Chris, and Ron. Driving in Virginia is awesome. Crewing this race was awesome. Hellgate is in the top 5 best days of 2015. Ran a 5k PR at the Reindeer run. But still not sub 20. Started going to Fore Performance and doing Muscles for Mileage with Josh Rossi.
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Thats all.

So now im figuring out what im going to do in 2016…

Run a marathon? on roads? yeah…

Run 100 Miles? yeah.

Run 4000 Miles? yeah. wait… probably not.

“You only live once” seems to be an overused statement. But it’s what I keep telling myself. It’s how I justify any crazy event. You know. Why not. In the end, all that matters is what you did, and how you lived. Do whatever you need to do to be happy.
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2 years ago I started running with Matt Bertrand. Shortly after followed Mike W. Life is significantly better thanks to these 2. Thanks to the running fam. Which seems to keep growing. Thanks Chris, Jason, Mike M, Dave J, Josh, Daven, Jeff. Medved peeps. Trailsroc. Goose.

2016 should be good.
The End.

 

KILL ALL MILES – Virgil 100 Mile Relay

Virgil Ultra’s happened the weekend of 9/19 (Yes – 2 months ago). Consisting of a 50, 100, 100 relay, and a 50k. A month or so before – Jason asked me if I would be interested in running the Rochester marathon relay. I was like… Yes. But – It’s the same weekend as Virgil Β  I was planning on going whether I was running or not.

I suggested we run the Virgil 100 relay. Then we held off registering till we all survived the weekend of Twisted Branch 100k.

A few weeks before Virgil we finally cracked down – gathered people for a team. Registered. We (coincidence?) ended up with a team that was also the Great Range group. Which is proving to be the perfect group of people to spend unlimited hours with.

Team: KILL ALL MILES – consisted of 5 people. Jason Vidmar, Jeff Green, Katie Ann, Danielle Snyder, and me (Laura Rekkerth). Our relay strategy –> Pick names out of a baggy. Each legΒ was random. The same person could be picked multiple times in a row, but no more than 3 times. One person would do 4.
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We knew doing a 100 mile relay would involve somewhere around 24 hours of running, driving, being awake. This year has been about getting the most out of every day, every weekend, every hour. Often including race weekends that span over 3 days, and very little sleep.
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FRIDAY Sept. 18th
Jeff and I ventured to Virgil to pick up our teams bibs, and camp at the start. We set up our tents and sat on a hill looking at the clear sky and stars. It gradually got colder, and had to retreat intoΒ our tents.

As usual I couldn’t sleep. I layed there, and eventually was accompanied by messages from Captain/Coach Jason. He was going over race data, and also not sleeping. Facebook messages spanned from sometime before 12am, till sometime after 1am.
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SATURDAY Sept. 20th
I woke up before my 5am alarm. Packed up my tent, put it away. Waited for Jeff to get up. We ventured to the pavilion, and spectated 50 and 100 milers getting ready to start. They took off at 6am – and would have 36 hours to finish the 100 miler.

50 and 100 mile start.

50 and 100 mile start.

Jeff and I now had 2 hours to kill before the start of the relay. Patiently awaited the arrival of our teammates.

Photo by Jason Vidmar

Photo by Jason Vidmar

Baggy draw #1 – Jason Vidmar was selected to start us off. In true Vidmar fashion he took off, and gave those first 6 miles almost everything he had. Jason was running from the start, to Hitching Post. about 6 miles.

Team photo - Jason, me, Jeff, Katie, Danielle

Team photo – Jason, me, Jeff, Katie, Danielle

Baggy draw #2 – Jeff was selected. I was jealous of this section, as I knew it had fun single track. Jeff was running from Hitching Post to Tens Kate – about 6 miles. The next person that runs would be up for the hardest section – Hurt Locker.

Jeff coming into to Tens Kate - befriending the competition.

Jeff coming into to Tens Kate – befriending the competition.

Baggy draw #3 – Hi Jeff. Your up again.

Hi Jeff

Hi Jeff

Bye Jeff.

Bye Jeff.

Baggy draw #4 – Laura (me). I would get to run 5 miles from the #trailsroc aid station to Rock Pile. Supposedly mostly down hill, and easy.

Waiting at the #trailsroc station - Jason captured my custom shirt design.

Waiting at the #trailsroc station – Jason captured my custom shirt design.

Jeff came in to the #trailsroc aid station – I was off. The trail was awesome. This section only took 42 minutes, which left minimal time for the team to get to the Rock Pile aid station. I saw Sheila Eagan and Michael Meynadasy as they ran the 50 miler, and Tim Raggets running the 100 miler.

Baggy Draw #5 – Jason Vidmar. However – I reached the Rock Pile, and at first glance had no team. But Katie came running out of the woods 2 seconds later, saying the others were still coming. She handed me her phone, and it was now her turn.

Baggy Draw #6 – It was starting to get late in the day, and Danielle was still waiting for her turn. We pulled a name. Not Danielle. She wanted to run sooner than later as she was not feeling well. So we decided she would go next. We waited for Katie back at the #Trailsroc aid station. Danielle would be running to TenKate Crossing – also meaning she would go down Hurt Locker.

The switch at #Trailsroc aidstation.

The switch at #Trailsroc aid station.

Baggy Draw #6 – Laura (me). I would be running from TenKate to Hitching post.

This section was also a lot of fun. I knew their was opportunity to get lost in this part – but Jeff gave me the heads up that the course stuck to the white marked trails.

Baggy Draw #7 – Danielle.

Danielle was up again, to run us back to the starting line at Hope lake. Headlamps would be needed as we started the second half.

Baggy Draw #8 – Katie.

Katie waits for Danielle at the start!

Katie waits for Danielle at the start!

Waiting.

Waiting.

Danielle on the move. Concluding the 1st half of the relay.

Danielle on the move. Concluding the 1st half of the relay.

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So were back at the start. We have to do all this all over again!?
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Baggy Draw #9 – Jason.

Jason started the race off for us – but had been patiently waiting his second turn. Now was his chance. He destroyed the section from Hitching Post to TenKate – Jeff and I had both ran this part, and Jason had the fastest time of the 3.

Team waiting for katie at Hitching Post

Team waiting for katie at Hitching Post

Jason. Definitely ready to kill miles.

Jason. Definitely ready to kill miles.

Baggy Draw #10 – Laura (me)

I was finally going to get my chance to #1 – run in the dark. #2 – Run up hurt locker. I was pretty excited. The section from TenKate to #trailsroc is no joke though, definitely one of the hardest runs. The team ended up waiting for me at the bottom of hurt locker, and Jason offered to join me for the last 3 miles. It was dark, and I accepted.

Baggy Draw #11 – Danielle.

Jason and I came into the #trailsroc aid station, and Danielle was off to the Rock Pile. While at #Trailstoc – Dave Justice informed us of the oncoming monsoon. But it wasn’t raining yet. It’ll hold off. Yeah…

Baggy Draw #12 – Jeff.

We waited for Danielle at the Rock Pile. It had started to rain. It started to rain harder. We had been talking about starting the “buddy system” – two people would run together for the rest of the relay. So I offered to run with Jeff back to #Trailsroc, then we would also continue on to TenKate Crossing. Knocking out 2 legs in one go.
————————————————————————
I forgot to mention that Katie hurt her ankle during her 2nd relay leg. So our team was down to 4.
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Jeff and I made it from the Rock Pile to #Trailsroc pretty easily – considering the trails were hard to see through the rain and fog. It took us just over an hour. We both felt pretty good, and would be good to keep going through the next section.

We took our time grabbing food at the aid station. We would now be running from #trailsroc AS to TenKate crossing, which included going down hurt locker.

It was still raining. It was still misting and foggy. Pretty early on we realised we hadn’t seen a flag in a while. And we’d been going down hill. Long story short — We turned around. Ran/walked back up this hill. Went a different way. Eventually saw some flags. I started dying. We kept thinking Hurt Locker would be coming up any minute. I was beginning to think Jeff would have to finish this one without me. Just as I was reaching panick mode – we heard cars. We saw lights. There was no hurt locker… no ski hills. We messed up. (Thank God).

Start - Rock Pile. Finish - TenKate

Start – #trailsroc. Pit stop- #trailsroc. Finish – TenKate

Jeff and I felt terrible for cutting the course. But were so happy to be done. We found Danielle and Jason getting ready at the car. They were pretty surprised to see us so soon. A few minutes later, Ian walked by and we told him what happened. With bigger things to worry about, and being the awesome dude he is… he let it slide. Plus the relays were so spread out, that cutting an hour out of our section wouldn’t have changed anything.
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Danielle and Jason were up for the section from Tenkate to Hitching post. Jeff and I decided we would drive over the next aid station and wait it out. We were soaked. Cold.

SUNDAY Sept.22
The next run would be to the finish. Who would it be? Jeff and I were feeling pretty much… done. But could slug it out if needed. We waited – about 2 hours? and eventually saw the headlamps coming in. Jason looked excited and ready to take us home. Danielle was battling the stomach issues she’d been suffering through all day – she was done. Captain/coach Jason once again proves his awesome selflessness, and takes on the solo run to the finish.
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We arrived back to an empty Hope lake. No one at the finish. No one in the Pavilion… at first. Then we were greeted by a cool guy volunteer.

Waiting.

Waiting.

Jason ran the final section in about an hour and 12 min.

The Vid-Star!

The Vid-Star!

Team finish line photo

Team finish line photo

Our relay finished in 19 hours and 24 minutes. Started at 8am, and finished at 3:24am. Good for 2nd place.

Team Splits

Team Splits

Overall results

Overall results

The team then decided we would gather our sleeping bags, and stay in the pavilion. We claimed a picnic table – Jason and Danielle had sleeping pads and slept on the floor. Jeff and I each claimed a side of the picnic table bench — Somehow managed to not fall off.

Post relay -- pre bedtime

Post relay — pre bedtime

We got up early and watched the top 100 milers finish, as well as a couple of relay teams.

Being spectators.

Being spectators.

The team decided we would go grab breakfast at Perkins – then get on the road. But Jeff and I decided to drag this thing out longer — After breakfast we returned to Hope Lake to watch Natalie and others run the 50k.

Hi Natalie. She's fast. She got 2nd.

Hi Natalie. She’s fast. She got 2nd.

Hope Lake

Hope Lake

Most of the spectating consisted of this.

Most of the spectating consisted of this.

I like panoramas.

I like panoramas.

RIP Virgil Crest Ultras.

The end.

Twisted Branch 100k – 2015

Update:
Now that a few weeks have passed – Race reports have been rolling in. Instead of reading my sappy mess, you should check these out.

Jeff Green – Actually all you need in life is Jeff Green, and his reports. Read this and you’ll be happy forever.
Rob Feissner – Never ran further than 33 miles. Race was over before it started. He pulled this race off like a pro with his positive and relentless attitude.
Mike Mertsock
– Knows how to race, knows what he’s capable of. Before this race he said he wanted to push himself harder than he has before – he did just that.
Jason Vidmar – Continues to be the nicest guy I know. He’s a marathon runner, on his way to the dark side of ultra running.
Chris O’Brien – Great friend and teammate. Never ran an Ultra before – so he chose the hardest one and battled his way to the finish.
Matt Bertrand – Had constant knee issues the 5 weeks before this race. He wen’t into this injured – never doubting that he would finish. He never stopped moving, took 2 minutes or less at aidstations. Ran/walked/hiked perfectly in order to make the cuttoff at the finish line.
Dan Lopata – You would normally see Dan as the course sweeper, or volunteer. He chose to run this one, to challenge himself. He, as well as half of the other racers, found himself chasing cut-off’s.

Ascend Collective – Check out the masters of photography, and their photos from Twisted Branch.
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Friday, August 28th.

I convinced Jeff to give me a ride to Ontario County Park – I had decided I would join the crew in camping before the race. We picked up Mort. Got to OCP and drove aimlessly until we saw The Feisners, the Lopata’s and Josh. Eventually we found our correct site – home of Chris O’brien, 5 cars, and too many (cool) people.

The night was clear and dry, I set up my tent without the rain fly. Jeff, Strat and I played Frisbee until we decided we should prepare to run this thing tomorrow. We sat by the fire, surrounded by fellow racers, pacers, and crew members. They started trickling away into tents around 9pm.

I crawled into my tent. I layed there and could not sleep. I didn’t want to look at my watch, I didn’t mind. As a person that likes to be awake, I especially liked not sleeping in this setting.
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Saturday, August 29th.

At some point I woke up. In all the “not sleeping” I was doing, I was having dreams that I couldn’t sleep. I opened my eyes and was completely happy. Looked at my watch, it was 2:08am. I was wide awake, but layed there until 3am.

I was soon joined by Chris, Strat and Jeff by the cars, as we sat, and did pre-race things. One thing I lacked to think about was how long it would take to walk over to the start. As I walked back to camp from the bathrooms, cars had left. So I started walking, looking at my watch it said 4:50am. I started running. Made it with a few minutes to hang out at the start, and off we went.

Start photo - by Dave Justice

Start photo – by Dave Justice

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This would be Ultra #6. My first ultra only being 15 months ago. Each of them completely different, and one thing I’ve learned is you never know what will happen. I expected this race to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I never expected it to be mentally and emotionally the hardest day of my life.
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The race starts as expected. Nice and easy, long down hill in the dark. I’m soon surrounded by the people I’ve trained all year with. It starts to get light out, and we break apart. But it always seemed that none of us were ever alone. Jeff and I were together, and eventually heard voices behind us that sounded like Matt, Strat and Chris. The five of us re-united again, but it was still early.

Things start going south quick. I had been feeling twinges of cramps in my feet early on. I tripped or kicked a root, my calf seized up. I looked at my watch… it was mile 12. It’s too early for this. Miles 13 – 15 involved a good amount of climbing out of Naples. We hiked about 1000 ft in this section, and may have pushed too hard. I was toast. I took a pretty good spill in the Hi Tor area shortly after. Seized multiple leg parts. I layed, clutched my legs… here it was… break down #1 out of 20. I sat, Jeff sat with me. And that was it – we were in this together.
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After I picked myself up, we start running again. And soon realise we don’t see orange. We had missed a turn, and wandered onto some camp ground. A guy was there, and said this trail would lead back to orange, but we didn’t want to risk cutting the course.

Wrong way.

Wrong way.

As we ran back up the trail looking for orange flags, we saw Rob Feisner. We caught him just as he was missing the turn we had missed. Glad to save him the extra mileage, and welcomed his company. Rob stayed with us for a while, told us how he had a bad morning. He was the LAST person to cross the start line, but was working his way towards what we be a better day, 24th overall and 16ish hour finish.
___________________________________________________

I had forgotten to return my headlamp at the first aid station, and was carrying it up until my spills in hi-tor. I noticed I was no longer holding it. Must have dropped it. But really – Jeff had it.

We finished the 1st half in 7ish hours. Things were ok at Italy Turnpike aid station – mile 29ish. Things were definitely going south though. We were 10 miles from Bud Valley. 10 miles from picking up pacers. 10 miles from still having 20+ more to go. I looked at my watch… we could make it to Bud Valley by 2:30pm.

With Jeff by my side, we had some good stretches of running, good stretches of dyeing. I lost track of cramps and break downs – but that was all me. We got to a quick stop aid station around mile 35. We sat in some chairs, there were other runners sitting, taking their time. I had M&M’s and tailwind by accident. And a PB&J. and more M&M’s. We left eventually, and set off for a long 4 miles to Bud Valley.

We came to a short steep up hill to a road, and had to pick ourselves over a guard rail. We sat. Looked at my watch. We could still make Bud Valley by 2:30pm. Jeff had actually been keeping track of cut off times – turns out bud valley was 3:30pm. We realised as we sat… we would be chasing cutoffs the rest of the night, and started moving.
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Bud Valley was the emotional turning point. Mike Welden was there, waiting for me. He would be my pacer. Mike Bray was there, he would be Jeffs. My parents were there, I can’t even remember if I talked to them. Danielle Snyder – is like my spirit animal – always there… always makes things better. Mike started walking towards the woods, trying to will me away from the aid station. But Jeff was still there. I started walking towards Mike. I walked backwards. Heart breaking as the inches grew between me and the person that stuck with me through over half of this. I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t leave. I wanted Jeff to come. I went back – Jeff and Bray followed.

Photo by my Dad

Photo by my Dad

Shortly after – the distance between Mike and I, and Jeff and Bray grew. Bray eventually came up to Mike and I…. Said he didn’t think Jeff wanted a pacer. I wanted to go back. I looked back, I saw Jeff. I looked forward… Mike was still running. Mike was there for me. Completely torn…. This was the hardest part of the race. The hardest thing I’ve ever done. My Heart broke…completely. I couldn’t breath. I ran away, crying. Mike noticed I was emotional… he told me the low points would pass. But this was no low point.
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It took a long time for me to get over abandoning my friend. I should have went back. Everytime I thought about it, I couldn’t breath. But running felt good. Cramping was less frequent – until I would trip or kick a root. I had Welden and Bray… sometimes they ran together ahead of me… sometimes I was Mike sandwiched. Bray left us a few times to wait for Jeff at aid stations.

As the running increased, breathing was becoming more difficult. I could no longer take deep breaths. I would focus on breathing…. but it hurt. It started to feel like I was breathing through a straw. I became stressed, and breathing was audible to Mike. He told me to stop. I was angry, I kept running. Mike kept telling me to stop.

I did finally. Breaths were short, sharp, and hysterical. I had stabbing pains in my ribs. I hunched my way over to Mike and a log. We sat. I was dyeing. Mike secretly wanted to pull me at this point.

We sat for a good 5-10 minutes. Then started walking. We still had 4-5 miles till Urbana. Bray caught back up to us and I was eventually ready to run. Running felt good again, breathing was better. We caught up to Matt and Jason, and Chris and Dave. We passed them, we ran hard. Trails were awesome in this section – flew down the hills. Ran all the way into Urbana, just as it was getting too dark for no headlamps.
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I took my time at the Urbana aid station. My headlamp was MIA (I would later find out that it saved Jeff’s life). Josh gave me his. I put on a long sleeve, as I had been feeling cold. Stole some pickles from Matt’s pickle stash (Thanks Meagan). Was about to start running again… then realised – I need to hug Josh. So I did.

It was 8:30pm as we left Urbana. Supposedly only 4 miles to the finish. Mike and Bray said it’d be an hour. I said 2 hours…. at least. We walked, it was dark. We knew we would be climbing soon.

I had been doing terrible on climbs up until now. My legs would cramp. Or I felt dizzy. There were times Mike walked behind me, to make sure I didn’t fall back. I had been dreading the climb out of Urbana. At the rate I’d been going, it would take an hour.

The climb starts right around mile 60, and it’s about 886ft. Steady climbing until mile 62 or so. But it went well. I didn’t mind the climb. I was alone. Mike and Bray were a ways ahead, but close enough for me to hear Bray complaining.

We get up this thing, pop out of the woods and were greeted by the moon.
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The finish line was elusive after this point. It was so close, but so far away. Always seemed like we had 2 more miles to go. I wanted to run, but I couldn’t run without tripping (tripping = cramping). We hiked. We can eventually hear the finish line music, but it would still be about 30 minutes till we got there.

The new Triad Trail was pretty awesome. The switchbacks would have been cool to do in the daylight. The finish line was straight out of the woods.

I cross a road. See the lake, see the finish with tons of lights, and people. Im greeted by Eric. Then Danielle. Danielle gave me the details on everyone else, including Jeff. Where was Jeff!? I didn’t think he was there. But eventually she said – “oh, he’s right over there”.

I walked over. Managed a word…. “Jeff.” Hugged him, and sobbed for the 20th time. Then we sat and talked. I heard Matt finish shortly after, then Chris right behind him. Roger Oskvig shoved food at me, and tried to make sure I wouldn’t freeze to death. But I was good. I went over and hugged everyone. Matt, Chris, Danielle, Jason, Dave, Jeff’s parents. It was weird to be done.
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People I need to note:
Jeff’s parents. We saw them more than anyone else during this race. Everytime I saw them, no matter how I felt, I couldn’t help but smile. They are so supportive, so positive… they were also usually a sign that an aidstation or road was near by.

Ben Metcalf. Helped Mike out all day with crewing. I would see him out on the trail, waiting for us. Always a welcomed site, and once again – couldn’t help but smile at his presence.

Jason Vidmar and Dave Justice. Two marathon guys that were there to pace 2 other runners. But I would discover them helping me, throughout the day. Two guys that are now unknowingly part of club Welden. Two guys on their way to the darkside. Welcome to the family you two.

Josh Stratton. DNF’d at 50k. I would start seeing him at every aidstation, and as sad as I was that he didn’t finish… I Ioved that he was there. He’s so positive, and has a smile that makes you forget life has problems.

Danielle Snyder. Ofcourse Danielle was there. Ofcourse she made things better. I didn’t require any technical help at this race – like getting gloves on cold wet hands. But if I did, she would’ve been the one to pull that off. Her words, and company was all needed this time.
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Results:
I was 32nd out of 47 finishers. About 87 people lined up at the start.
6th female out of 11
64/65ish miles in 17:36:56 (course cutoff was 18 hours)
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Things I learned:

  • As proved by Matt and Rob Feisner – this course can be completed with less than ideal training – with the right amount of mental strength and determination.
  • Matt can run with no knees.
  • I never felt tired or fatigued. The mind and heart were willing, the body just doesn’t cooperate sometimes.
  • Sometimes the adventure trumps finish time and place… or finishing at all.
  • Team Welden + Jeff + Jason + Dave = ❀

Things I used for fuel:

  • Oatmeal for breakfast
  • Picky bar in the first hour and a half
  • pb&j (x3)
  • 1 pickle at mile 12, then not again until 40 and 60.
  • nutella and jelly (x2)
  • Oreos (x4???)
  • M&M’s (x???)
  • Chips of some kind
  • water
  • salt tabs

If there’s one thing the course lacked – it was pickles. Jason had bought some and left them at a few aid stations. But most didn’t have any. Pickles are awesome. Everything else was perfect though – Scott Magee pulled this off amazingly.
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Coach told me never to think of this race as a failure. I was like… yeah – no way. This was the best race of my life. I experienced things to new extremes. I was out there for almost 18 hours, and never wanted it to end. Jeff and Mike both saw the terrifyingly emotional side of me, and didn’t run away. This race made friends and the community feel more like family.Β I felt love, pain, heartbreak. I cherish the experience I had, even if it was rough.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Post Race
We ventured to Mikes Lake house only a few minutes from the finish line. People trickled in, and gathered around the living room with post race drinks and food. We stayed up until 3am or so, and eventually passed out on the floor. It was over. There was no sense of great achievement. Just a sense that this was some kind of turning point.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
A little side note : I asked Mike to Coach me in December 2014. Shortly after, I signed up for this race. Twisted Branch would be what we worked towards all year.Β  I soon found out that Dan O, and Jeff Green signed up. Then I Met Chris and found out he was with Mike too. Then Matt and everyone else signed up.

We all do different races throughout the year – but this one, brought everyone together. Im beginning to feel like home isn’t the old yellowish house I live in.

Home is running silently with Mike. Neither of us being good at all at small talk. Home is 8+ hour training runs, with a group of friends I can never tire of. Home is any amount of time with Jeff Green, Mike Welden, Matt Bertrand, Chris O’Brien, Josh Stratton. 5 People that have showed me nothing but love, friendship, and support. Makes you question what love truly is. These people are my life.

The End.

P.S. Save August for Twisted Branch 2016.

Strength doesn’t come from physical capacity, it comes from indomitable will – Mahatma Gandhi

The Road to Twisted Branch

Sometime in November/December 2014 I signed up for Twisted Branch 100k. The race is point to point – beginning at Ontario County Park (Naples, NY) and finishes on the shores of Keuka Lake (Hammondsport, NY). The race is scheduled for August 29th. Currently only 28 days away.
elevation

My training has been pretty consistent. Even though I feel like I’m a slacker – The month of July was only a few miles short of my mileage for May – 247.8 (highest mileage month ever). In May I RACED 127.9 miles. July I only raced 13 (total mileage = 242.7).

Bar Graphs! ... are cool.

Training bar graphs! … are cool.

May 9th – I ran 58.7 miles in a 12 hour race (Mind the Ducks) – Pretty much a 12 hour training run.
May 31st – I ran Cayuga Trails 50 Mile. That was goal race #1.

June 20th – We previewed the 2nd half of the Twisted Branch course (50k training run). It took us 8 hours. Looked something like this….
last50k
last50k2
How’d I feel after that? Terrible. Super intimidated. Do I really want to race this and die? not really.

June 27th – We completed the ADK Great Range Traverse. Which put me in a “completing stuff with friends is fun mode”. I know coach thinks I can do well… or “win”. If I try to do that I’ll likely be in tears, and not in a good place mentally. So im not gonna try to do anything.

July 4th – I watched Jeff run his first 50 miler – Finger Lakes 50. While Mike and I ran the “course” backwards incorrectly… somehow ended up with 20 miles out and back – when it should have been a 15 mile loop.

July 11th – we went back out and ran the first 50k of the Twisted Branch course.
first50k
first50k2

I felt better about the 1st half. Much more runnable than the 2nd. Just as much elevation though. Just as dead at the end. And took almost as long.

July 18th – I raced 0SPF – Trail Half Marathon. Took 23 minutes off last years time. 13th overall – 6th female – and 3rd in AG. Trailsroc never fails at putting on an awesome race – or being the best cheer squad – or aid station.
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July 25th – I watched my coach run 100 miles (Burning River 100). I thought Cayuga was the best race experience. Turns out crewing and pacing are way better. There’s really nothing like watching someone run for 23 hours. And in the meantime watching other people run – and coming up with names for them. Like “confused guy”. Or “rough guy”. “white shirt guy”. “Yellow shirt guy”. Don’t judge us on our naming skills – Were an obvious bunch.

We were also cheering for Daven. Eventually we got a text from his dad saying he could use a pacer. Matt and Jeff shuttled me to the 70 mile mark, and I jumped in. My first time pacing. Daven’s first ultra with a pacer. Cool. unfortunately this meant I would miss 40 miles of Mike running. But pacing Daven was probably the coolest thing I’ve done yet. Good company, and an enjoyable 20 mile run. And maybe I helped by being there? Maybe not – 4 hours of silence can be annoying.

Oh yeah – and Daven won. Cause he’s super cool. and Coach was inching his way up the entire day – finished in 17th overall, and sub 24 hours. __________________________________________________________________________________

August 1st – (Today) – Ran with a fun group of people on the Crescent Trail. Managed 18/19 miles. Seeing most of them again tomorrow at crazy hours (4amish) to run the start of Twisted Branch in the dark.

Everything that’s happened gets me more excited about running. Running longer. Adventuring further. Sleeping less. It’s the one thing im 100% about. It also makes it seem like everything else is falling apart.

Life’s confusing. I don’t know what im doing. Somehow I manage to make it to work everyday. I fear Kyle might disown me eventually. I’m the closest to “bankrupt” I’ve ever been. But I have this thing where I don’t care about money, cause it’s lame. You should be able to do whatever you want. Much like my thoughts on sleep (a waste of time). Both are equally bad advice. I used to care about things. Now I just care about people. Im contemplating 100 milers – something I had no interest in earlier this year. I used to be so organized, and punctual. Now it’s just chaos. Lovely chaos.
___________________________________________________________________________________

So back to Twisted Branch. Do I have a plan? No.

Thinking of combining the first half and 2nd half is pretty terrifying. I could compare it to Cayuga – I mean, it’s only 10 miles more right? yeah. Cayuga was super runnable though. Cayuga hills were steep – but they were over quick. Twisted Branch is a soul sucker. The kind of hills that just beat me down. They never end… then turn a corner, and continue to never end.

I guess I could be semi-optimistic and say there are more runnable sections than hills. I’m just a wimp. I like rolling stuff. I like downhills. Or if im on a mountain – going up is cool. When I want to run – not cool.

So how’s this gonna work? The thing that’s worked best so far, is having simple goals. Forget cut off time. Forget any time goal. Forget the competition – it will be good. I’ll try to stumble my way in, but the course is rugged and hilly – it’ll be a long day. I will break down. I’ve accepted this is just part of the journey. Hitting bottom, finding what’s important, then bouncing back.

I’m beginning to think I don’t want to spend that day alone. Normally I love the point in a race when everyone is spread out, and I’m in no-mans land for hours. Maybe I’d be all about some “me time”. But im beginning to think of it as an adventure. And who’d I want to adventure with… hmmm.

I’ll have a “crew” – but I don’t think I’ll need them for anything other than seeing their faces.

So It’s August. This thing happens soon.

The end.

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.
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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.

Corporate Challenge. Cayuga. Stuff.

Cayuga is in 3 days.

I’m pretty tired of thinking about it. I’m nervous. I feel weird. The last couple days I’ve felt randomly dizzy.

I managed to run pretty well at the Corporate Challange on Tuesday. I wanted to get a decent time, without killing myself. I kept the effort level low, and managed to feel great for almost the whole race. I picked it up the last .5 mile which resulted in feeling a bit puky at the finish. Other than that tho – the best I’ve felt for a 5kish race. Usually I feel like im sprinting for 3 miles and want to die.

Results:
chase

I ran for Team CatPrint. This was our top 4 – we had about 14 total team members.
CatPrint_results

I designed these shirts:

tshirts

T-Shirts printed by Crazy Dog T-shirts

Cheetah close up:

catprintdotcom

Were awesome and printing things – Check out CatPrint.com!

I convinced our company to do the corporate Challenge last year, and I hadn’t been there 1 year yet. They let me put it together, and be the team captain. And then they asked to do it again this year. Hopefully it’s a yearly tradition. It is a whole day thing – we end up spending 12+ hours together (work + corporate challenge). A big time commitment. But it’s awesome.

Im volunteering at Ontario Summit Trail Marathon Saturday. Hopefully watching other people run will take my mind off running Cayuga. Ugh. Im super excited for the weekend. The hanging out, and cheering for people part. But Cayuga – ready or not… here I come… I guess.

Mind the Ducks 12 Hour

I woke up at 3:15am, after going to bed somewhere after 11pm. I sucked at sleeping… it was hot… we were dumb and didn’t turn the A/C on. I made the usual pre-race stuff – Coffee. Then eventually oatmeal. I sat at the computer. Thought about how much I didn’t want to run in circles.

I wen’t out fast. Had to keep reminding myself this was not a goal race. I died. Came back to life. Had the best coach, crew, and best spectators, friends, people cheering all day. I was told the temperature got up to 92 degrees. It felt hot. I handled it well for the majority of the time. I sat down twice. Once because I was starting to freak out, and breathing was getting hard. And my feet hurt. Chris rubbed them. He’s a keeper.

Miles 1 through 34

Miles 1 through 34

I think things started going downhill after I hit 50k… Or that’s when things got hard. The foot pain actually seemed to get better, but I started battling sidestitches, and breathing was still hard.

Miles 35 through 58.686

Miles 35 through 58.686


I didn’t think I was going to make it out of the 40’s. 40 – 50 took forever. I sat down again, because things got fuzzy. Blackness and dizzy. Coach sat with me. Definitely dying. But it was all familiar.

#trailsroc kept things fun. They’re awesome. Ron took awesome photos.

Matt told me he ate some magic pickles. So I ate some pickles. They are magic.

I walked some laps with Matt, and we ran some. I was dieing, but I wasn’t alone.

Finally getting to mile 50 was a turning point. I started running more. Mike (Coach) joined me for the last hour. We did the unthinkable and ran the entire time. I’ve had a lot of great hours in my life… but that 11th hour, was one of the best. Pain seemed to go away, sidestitch ignored. I wanted to be done – then we finished lap 57 and still had 15 minutes to go. Lame. One more.

Final laps with Coach and Mertsock.

Final laps with Coach and Mertsock.

I finished 5th overall out of 139, 2nd female out of 74, 58 laps = 58.696 (11 hours 55 min). Officially the longest and farthest i’ve ran.
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What I ran on for 12 hours?
A Picky Bar (Blueberry) – Water – Diluted coconut water – Saltines with molasses – More water – More diluted coconut water – A lot of diluted coconut water – a lot of water – 4? Endurolytes – Newmans Ginger O’s – 2 popscicles – A couple pretzels – A couple tortilla chips – Half of one of Meagan’s blueberry muffins – 4 half’s of pickles – Gingerale from the aidstation a few times.

Things I learned – Coconut water is awesome. And pickles actually work.

I felt good overall during this. I felt pain and nausua, as expected. But I have definitely felt much worse. The breathing thing… I don’t know. It’s happened in the last 3 Ultra’s that were 50 or more miles. But it was not nearly as bad for this one – so maybe it’s getting better.
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Mind the Ducks last year was a turning point. It was my first Ultra. Now I’ve ran 4.
That’s the first time I saw Coach.
That’s the first time a friend came to watch me race (Matt) – and we had JUST started running together.
That’s the first time I completely broke down.
That’s the first time Kyle carried me cause I couldn’t walk.

A lot has changed.
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Recovery gets easier and easier. Saturday night after the race – I kept walking around, took a bath, rolled my legs. I felt 95% normal the next day. A lingering side stitch was about it, and minor foot pain in the morning. But as I got moving it definitely didn’t feel like I just ran an Ultra.
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I was nervous about running this before Cayuga 50. Only a couple weeks away. Whether Cayuga goes well or not – It won’t be because of this race. Bad races happen. And I seem to be unscathed from the weekend. So moving on – May 31st…. should be interesting.

Sorry this was long.
The end.

Kyle and I after the race.

Kyle and I after the race.


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