Thursday, April 28, 2016

Seneca7 Relay Race Recap - Part 2

Did you miss Part 1? Check it out, here!

After I handed Greg the slap bracelet, he took off on his almost 5 mile run. However, since Greg runs at sub-7 minute pace, we knew we had to hustle a little bit.

 Off he goes! Photo courtesy of Jenn

We got to the scenic overlook and had some time to take photos. Some of our friends were on a bike team (they had to ride around the lake instead of drive in a van) and they decided to "goose-bomb" us! (They were on a team for Goose Adventure Racing).

What a lovely group of people!


Soon we saw Greg come flying down the road and Laura got ready to run. I remembered running her leg a few years ago and I knew she was going to enjoy it.

Our team went to the next exchange point and took some more photos together. Gustavo was about to run his first-ever Seneca7 leg! We waited for Laura and then in the distance we saw her coming (you can see the exchange point for a long time during this leg)!

 Fun times! Photo courtesy of Gustavo

 Last runner out on his first leg!

At Glenora Winery we were able to use real bathrooms (the only time during the race) and it was nice to be able to wash my hands! We were almost 1/3 of the way done for the day, and as usual the race was flying by. Jenn was nervous about her next leg (most of the runners have a challenging second leg), but I told her to just enjoy the waterfall and not worry about the uphill too much.

When Gustavo came running down the hill, they exchanged the slap bracelet (with a kiss) and Jenn was off. There is no van support for the runner during this leg, so we took our time and made it to the next exchange point.

Off she goes!

At this time, I knew I didn't have too long until my next leg. I had stopped eating and started to reduce the amount of water I was drinking (because I didn't want to have to go to the bathroom right before my leg).

Mike's next leg was a "gently rolling" 2.7 mile run. When Jenn came running down the road, happy she was done with that leg, he took off. We made sure to get in the van quickly since we knew it wouldn't take him very long to run this leg.

Jenn is happy to be done!

 Sprinting away!

Right around this time, we started to catch the earlier waves. This was nice because it gave us some extra motivation to try to run as fast as we could. We got to Lakewood Vineyards and waited for Mike to come running around the corner.

When Mike came in (at a blazing 7:15 pace!), Prem took off on one of my favorite legs of the relay that I have run so far. It is an amazing downhill into Watkins Glen. Unfortunately for me this year, that meant that I had to run UP out of Watkins Glen.

 Crushing it!

Our entire team (except me) is in this photo
Photo courtesy of Jenn 

We got to Clute Park, and parked "aggressively" (close to the exchange point), and I went to the bathroom one final time. Our team noticed that some runners were having trouble following the course through the park and also weren't sure how to start the leg I would be running. There were no volunteers there either, which was odd, but we made it work (and luckily, we knew what we were doing).

Prem came running through the park, and then it was time for me to take off! My leg was a steep uphill out of Watkins Glen to Hector Falls. The leg was a 3.5 mile run and I tried to not think about the hill too much.

Prem running the correct way on the course, photo courtesy of Jenn

 Smiling, but secretly terrified of the hill I have to run, photo courtesy of Gustavo

Right before the steep incline, photo courtesy of Jenn

I was able to have the van drive by me before we went separate ways on the split in the road, and I saw the hill coming. I tried not to walk, but I had to a walk a little bit. I was able to pass some people on this leg and the route did flatten out for a few miles as I ran by Hector Falls (so pretty). Another team's van drove by me, and cheered for me, but all I could think was, "you are going the wrong way" (vans weren't supposed to follow the runners on this leg).

My pace wasn't too bad for the middle miles of this leg and I just focused on the runners I saw ahead of me. I was able to pass three people on this leg (and almost caught a 4th runner).

Eventually the route started to go uphill again and I tried not to walk, but I had to walk one final time. I told myself to only walk to a mailbox, and then I ran. Eventually I rounded a corner and I could see the exchange point. Even though I was running uphill, I just told myself to keep running to Greg.

 Happy to hand over the slap bracelet!

I heard my team cheering for me and handed the slap bracelet to Greg, and he took off on the longest leg of the day.

I finished this leg in 32:22 at 9:15 pace, not bad considering the 300 feet of elevation gain!

Our team was on our way to being 2/3 done with the race!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Seneca7 Relay Race Recap - Part 1

It's the end of April, so that means it is time for Seneca7 again!

FIT1Runners at the start! Photo courtesy of Jenn

Mike and I love this race, we have run it every year (except the first year since we just started running) and we don't plan on missing it any time soon. Even though I have been in a funk with running, I was hoping this race would help snap me out of it - and it did!

This year our team was made up of the remaining members of our team from last year, another team's remaining members from last year (plus their driver) and one other friend (who had never run the race before). Our team name was "FIT1Runners" (since the majority of us either teach or go to FIT1) and we were in the 9am wave this year.

Excited to run and be in a van all day! Photo courtesy of Gustavo

We all met up on Sunday morning and drove to Geneva for the start. We got there right as the 8am wave was starting and we cheered on our friends who were running in this wave. After that we went into the Smith Opera House so that we could use a real bathroom one final time before the race started.

Our order this year was Jenn, Mike, Prem, me, Greg, Laura and Gustavo. A few days before the race, I had been contemplating switching legs with Mike since I was worried I was going to slow our team down too much (and my second leg had a monster hill). We both ended up with the least amount of miles this year (just happened since we are running out of runner positions left to run) with around 9 miles.

I finally decided to stay with the order we had decided on, and hoped for the best.

The 9am wave is off!

 Jenn is excited to run!

Right before 9am, Jenn went over to line up and start the day off! We actually started at 9:02am and then it was time to enjoy the day running around Seneca Lake.

As we made our way to the first exchange point (we didn't have to use the shuttles this year since we started so late), we were able to see Jenn running.

Beautiful day for some running

I knew we were going to be one of the slower teams in our wave since most of us were a little out of shape from not running as much. We had put a predicted 7:00 average pace, and I just hoped for the best. We were in a wave that included 7:30, 7:00, 6:30 and 6:00 pace so I knew we would have enough time to get around the lake before the time cutoffs.

 Mike is ready to go

 "You're going to be hot"

Jenn came in and then Mike ran his first leg. He did really well! He did mention that while his body felt fine, his lungs felt like they were on fire. We haven't really been sprinting much lately! Regardless, he still ran his 2.7 mile leg at 7:07 pace!

Mike finishing up his leg

 Prem's first Seneca7 run!

Then it was Prem's turn. He was the only one on our team who had never experienced Seneca7 before (Gustavo had never run in the race, but he was another team's driver last year), and he looked like he had a great time all day!

 Waiting for it to be my turn

While at Anthony Road Winery, I made sure to use the port-a-potties and then I started to wait for Prem. He had a longer leg at almost 5 miles, so I knew I had a while. After deciding on not wearing my arm sleeves, we thought we saw him coming. Unfortunately, a lot of people were wearing orange so the first few people weren't him. Then we finally saw him!

 My turn!

As he ran down the hill, I got mentally ready to run! I grabbed the slap bracelet from him and then took off!

This looks more impressive than it really is since it is two feet into my run, photo courtesy of Gustavo

My first leg was short, only 2.2 miles, so I knew I had to push it. It started off on a downhill, so I tried to take advantage of that as well. Though, I did start out a little bit too fast (for me at this moment) and I hoped that I could sustain a decent pace.

Even though I saw the markings on the ground indicating the turn to the right, I still wondered if I went the right way. I didn't see any other runners the entire leg (since we were so far back in our wave) and there weren't many Seneca7 markings or signs on this leg. Eventually, I saw a sign that indicated I was in fact going the right way.

The first mile came in at 7:17 pace and I tried to hold on. I did slow down a bit as the road flattened out and then had a small incline over a railroad track, but the second mile came in at 8:03 pace.

After running over the small hill, I thought I saw the exchange point in the distance. This was a new location for the exchange point this year, so I wasn't entirely sure where it would be.

 Greg is ready to run! Photo courtesy of Jenn

 One leg down, two to go! Photo courtesy of Gustavo

Then, I saw Greg doing some wind sprints while waiting for me and I knew that I was almost done with my first leg. I ran down the small downhill as fast as I could, and handed him the slap bracelet.

I finished the 2.24 mile leg in 17:24 at 7:45 pace, and considering we haven't been running much or that fast lately I was happy!

We took off since Greg is so speedy and continued on with our day.

More about that in the next post!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Muddy Sneaker 20K Race Recap

Whoa, look at that a blog post! I don't even have a reason for not posting, other than life stuff has taken over and I needed a bit of a break.

Last weekend, Mike and I raced the Muddy Sneaker 20K for the second time. The last time we raced it was in 2014 and we had a great time so we wanted to do it again. Some years it is the same weekend as Seneca7, but this year it worked out so that the races were on different weekends.

I do have to admit, that since my 50 miler I haven't been running much. The beginning of Ironman Mont Tremblant training hasn't been going well (though in the last few weeks it has improved) and my running confidence (in addition to speed and distance) has really decreased.

So, I did sit in the car until about 20 minutes before the race start not wanting to race.

Mike went and got his bib and they gave him mine too, and so then I decided to just run it. I knew I wasn't ever planning on "racing" anyway and I guess running would be better than sitting in the car while Mike ran.

We went to the start and chatted with some friends before we were off. The beginning starts on an immediate hill, though compared to 2014 it felt a lot worse than I remembered! The beginning of the race is pretty congested, but after a few miles people start to spread out.

I was going a lot slower than normal because the trails were pretty muddy in spots and I didn't feel like hurting myself. Once I got through the first and second water crossings I was able to spread out a bit from other runners.

I had debated on whether or not I needed my hydration vest, and I'm glad I wore it! It was pretty warm once the race got going and I was happy to have some water available. I also dressed incorrectly and wore a long sleeve shirt (thankfully, I had on shorts) so I was pretty warm!

In some ways I'm happy that my brain allowed me to forget just how much "up" this race has, it really felt like there was a lot more uphill this year! I would alternate between walking and running up the long stretches of uphill and made sure to take advantage of the downhill (and very few flat portions).

I went through the deepest water crossing, and it felt good to cool down a bit! I knew that soon I would be heading downhill for awhile, and right around the beginning of the downhill I saw someone dressed in a Tigger costume up ahead.

I thought I heard them yell my name, but I didn't think I knew anyone who would be dressed as Tigger. But, as I ran by, I saw that it was our friend Jen and another friend Steven walking with her.

I kept going downhill and finally made it to one of the next aid stations. At this point, I was about halfway done and about to start another uphill section.

At the top of this section, I was greeted by someone dressed in a chicken costume (who had been at a different part of the race earlier).

After continuing uphill for a bit, we started to run downhill again toward an aid station we had already run by. The race continues on some single-track, that we had already run on in the opposite direction earlier, before heading down toward the final water crossing.

I made sure to take it easy on the downhill and the water crossing. I didn't feel like falling at all (Mike fell pretty hard during the water crossing).

I made it to the final aid station and grabbed some water and Tailwind before going up the steepest climb of the day. I was able to hike up it pretty quickly, and pass quite a few people in the process, and finally made it to the "top". Or at least I thought it was the top. It flattened out for a bit, and I ran, and then it went uphill for a little bit longer. Finally, I was able to run for a bit, and saw our friends Katie and Danielle run by me in the opposite direction (they were getting in some more miles).

I ran down the final downhill before starting the long, gradual climb to the finish.

This section took

 Mike contemplating life, photo courtesy of Gustavo

I didn't think it was going to end, and honestly, I barely ran any of this section. I knew my mental attitude toward the race and the heat wasn't helping and I just wanted to be done.

I ran as much as I could and then I could finally see the clearing, and I ran to the end.

 Just picture me giving thumbs down right before or after this, photo courtesy of Gustavo

I saw Mike and our friends cheering me on, and as I ran by I gave the thumbs down. I was just really defeated with how much fitness I have lost (which is completely on me) and how much slower I was this year compared to two years ago.

 With our friend, Heather, after the race, photo courtesy of Gustavo

Regardless of my time (2:53:48), I'm glad that I did end up running the race. I would have been disappointed in myself if I had given in and just DNS'd. Mike did well and finished in 2:28:41 (also a bit slower compared to two years ago).

And the best part, we finally stopped at Monica's Pies and bought a pie after the race. A delicious Dutch Apple pie!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Coldwater Rumble 20K Race Recap

We had an amazing time in Arizona a few weeks ago (I'll probably write a short recap of all of our adventures soon!) and while we were there we ran a 20K race in Goodyear. Crystal and I have a goal of racing in all 50 states together and this made number 9!

The four of us! Photo courtesy of Crystal 

The colors were crazy!

The night before the race we went to Estrella Mountain Regional Park to get our bibs. The four of us checked out part of the trails that we would be running on the next morning and saw an amazing sunset!

We didn't have to wake up too early on Saturday morning since the 20K started at 8:45am. Mike, Crystal and I were running the 20K and Joe was running the 4 miler. The race also offers other distances including a 100 miler, 52 miler, 52K and 20 miler.

When we arrived at the park, there were already some distances racing and other people were arriving for the other distances. We made sure to go to the bathroom and then we filled our bladders with some water since the 20K only had two opportunities for water stops.

Right before 8:45am, we were called to the start line. The race announcer made a few announcements about following our specific bib color while out on the course (or we might end up running longer than we wanted!) and then mentioned that we had a special person running in the race. Lota, a 9 year old boy, was racing the 20K. The race announcer explained that he had been diagnosed with a brain tumor AND that he was an ultrarunner. We all cheered him on and then got ready for our start in a few minutes.

After a quick pre-race photo with Crystal and Mike, we got ready to go. The three of us were close together in the beginning, but we weren't planning on running the entire race together. I didn't even really know how it was going to go since this was going to be my first (and Mike's) double digit run since my 50 miler back in November.

 Follow your bib color!

Our race started promptly and we were off! Mike stumbled right at the beginning of the race, but he was alright. The beginning took us on the paved park road but we quickly turned right to get on the trails. We knew that the beginning of the race was going to be challenging and I figured I would be hiking up part of the trails. Crystal and I were together for a few minutes, but she went ahead of me after awhile.

 First desert race

I just focused on having fun and taking in the vastly different scenery than we have in Rochester! The trails were dry, but there were some sections that had a lot of loose rocks. The trails were mostly single-track, but they were wide enough to get around people if needed.

 The only wider section of the race

 Flags marking the two-way traffic

I settled into a good pace and started to enjoy myself after a few miles. I got to the aid station around 3.5 miles. I grabbed some Gatorade and a banana and then continued on my way. The trail was wider here and there were some flags set up to separate the two-way traffic. We would return on our way back to this aid station in a few miles.

The trails were gorgeous and I kept staring at all of the mountains in awe. I did start to get warm, and worried a little bit, but I was able to drink from my bladder. I passed a few people in the next miles and only once questioned which way to go (I asked a guy behind me and he pointed me in the right direction).

Still following the 20K signs

 The mountains were gorgeous!

I REALLY picked up the pace the mile right before the aid station. As I approached it, I could see it in the distance for what felt like forever. Finally, I got to the wider trail with the flags marking the two-way traffic. At the aid station I grabbed some more Gatorade and then kept going.

We didn't return the way we had come, since we needed a few more miles than that, and we went around the other side of the mountains. This part of the race had a lot of switchbacks and you could see runners going up them. We also started to have more two-way traffic because runners doing the longer distances would alternate which direction they did their loops in and they were heading out for their next loops. Everyone was really nice and kept encouraging everyone.


 And more up

I walked up the switchbacks when needed and ran the flat and downhill portions. I felt like I should be coming up to the end soon, and eventually I ran off the trails and back on to the park road. I didn't really know where I was, but then I saw where we had started the race.
 Cheezin' it up at the finish

I made the final turn toward the finish and saw Mike, Crystal and Joe cheering me on. I ran through the finish line and I was done!

I love these people! Photo courtesy of Crystal

For not really running much lately, I think that I did pretty well. My final time was 2:20:01 (and my watch registered 12.7 miles, not 12.4), and I felt really good once I got going.

Overall, it was a great way to spend time with our friends while visiting a new state!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

2016 Goals

Normally at this time of year, I come up with a huge list of goals that I want to accomplish over the next 365 days (or 366 for 2016). I am still going to come up with goals for 2016, but it isn't going to be a huge list and they are going to be a bit more experience-based than my previous goals have been.

I have realized after not hitting any of my mileage goals for the past three years (with the exception of my cycling mileage goal in 2014) and always stressing out about it, that some of the pressure I put on myself is unnecessary. This doesn't mean that I'm going to stop tracking my mileage, I am just not going to set some arbitrary number that I need to reach by the end of the year. This year was actually my lowest mileage year for running, with the exception of 2012, since I started tracking yearly mileage. The crazy thing is that I did two 70.3s, the SOS Triathlon, two 50Ks and a 50 miler, yet knowing that I didn't accomplish my goal again was always there in the back of my mind.

Mike and I also realized that there is a big world out there. 2015 brought lots of adventures, including traveling and hiking. I would love to travel to other countries (not including Canada, though there are amazing places we have yet to explore there) and to visit (and race in) all 50 states someday.

Over the past few months, I have learned that material possessions are not as important as the memories that we make. I believe that I have always known that, but being in the woods for almost 12 hours running a 50 miler, hiking for hours and feeling like it flew by, riding for fun around a lake and so much more has sparked something within me. We may not end up living as minimal as some, but in the future I hope that when we look back on our life we can say we are proud of the adventures that we had, rather than the material things that we bought.

My goals for 2016 will be simpler, but still motivate me, challenge me and inspire me to be the best that I can be at this moment.

  • Finish Ironman #2 with a smile on my face.
  • PR the Half Ironman and Ironman distance.
  • Complete the Great Range Traverse in the Adirondacks (approximately 25 miles, depending on the route).
  • Section hike more of the Appalachian Trail.
  • Ride around two more of the Finger Lakes.
  • Race, train and go on adventures with family and friends as much as possible. 
  • Be in the moment while with family and friends.
  • Volunteer at a race at least twice.
  • Unplug more often (I am contemplating going cell phone and laptop free one night a week).
  • Continue to declutter, organize and donate/get rid of items in our house (hopefully start the sell our house/buy a new house process as well).
  • Plan something epic for 2017.

That's all for 2016. I'm sure some mini-goals will come up as I go, but I am happy with my decision to keep this next year simple. At least as simple as possible while training for an Ironman!