Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tri-State Hike

This past weekend, Mike, Bernie and I went for a hike. Since we aren't training for anything specific right now, it is the perfect time for us to enjoy our other activities!

Since the weather in the Adirondacks is iffy right now (and we are still acquiring winter gear), I looked at other places to go for a hike that weren't too far away from our house. We decided on a hike in the Taconic Mountains that incorporated part of the Appalachian Trail. Mike and I have never been on the Appalachian Trail before (well, I may have been on part of it as a child while my family was in Baxter State Park, but I'm not sure where my family hiked while there) so we thought this was the perfect opportunity to hike a small section of it.

We drove to Mike's parents' house on Friday night since they only live about an hour and a half away from where we would be hiking. Saturday morning we woke up around 6:30am and got our stuff together in about an hour. After hitting up Stewart's for breakfast (Mike likes to go here since it was a big part of his childhood, ha) we made the hour and a half drive to Salisbury, Connecticut where we would be starting our hike.

 The beginning of our hike

Mike and I decided on hiking a loop that incorporated the Undermountain Trail, the Appalachian Trail and the Paradise Lane Trail. This is about a 6 mile loop that climbs up Bear Mountain, the highest peak in Connecticut.

We also tentatively planned to add more to our hike in order to see the tri-state marker.

 Two handsome guys enjoying their hike!

Riga Junction, our first time on the Appalachian Trail!

Family photo, a new state for the Bern!

The hike to Bear Mountain was pretty uneventful, but beautiful. We really enjoyed our time on the Appalachian Trail. At the top of the mountain we spent some time checking out the views and eating some snacks before continuing on. The hike down the mountain was a little bit sketchy, with some icy spots and steep rock scrambles that we had to navigate down with Bernie (two guys section hiking the AT said that we went down the mountain really fast, especially with a dog, I thought we were going slow!).

White blazes!

One of the more interesting water crossings (and the yellow marker on the tree indicates the trail we should have taken, oops!)

 The end of our AT experience (though we'd do about .4 miles more since we missed a turn)

We made it to Sages Ravine and realized that we had missed the turn for the connector trail to go to the tri-state marker. I asked Mike if we were just going to do the loop or turn back, and of course we turned back!

 Walking along some planks

Possibly the top of Round Mountain

We found the trail easily enough and made our way toward Mt. Washington Road. This part of our hike was a bit wet, but it was flat so we made good time. After reach Mt. Washington Road we started the trek to Round Mountain. There were some more interesting climbs, but we managed! There wasn't anything indicating the summit of Round Mountain, except for a few spots with cairns, so we just kept going to Mt. Frissell.

At the summit, the third mountain of the day


I really liked Mt. Frissell (we both said it was our favorite part of the hike) and after some photos we kept going past the summit. We only had to go about a mile or so more to get to the tri-state marker. Before getting there we made it to the Massachusetts/Connecticut borders, which is also the highest point in Connecticut (Bear Mountain is the highest peak, but not the highest point).

 Standing in three places at once

Finally, we made it to the marker! We were in three states at once: New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Goodbye Appalachian Trail!

Taking in the views

We turned around to head back the same way we had already hiked (the downside of out and backs). When we got back to Sages Ravine, we said goodbye to the Appalachian Trail and started to hike on Paradise Lane. I also liked this part of the hike, there were some cool streams throughout and the wooded areas looked different than where we had already hiked.

 Hiking under the setting sun

Just as it started to get dark, we got back on the Undermountain Trail and finished up the last 1.2 miles of our hike back to the trailhead. We timed the hike perfectly (by luck) and we finished up just as the sun was setting (we did have headlamps with us, but it was nice to not need them while hiking). Our hike ended up being about 11.5 miles total in 7.5 hours.

A great day!

We had a great time during this hike, and we can't wait to get back on the Appalachian Trail again (which we are doing tomorrow!)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Stone Cat 50 Mile Race Recap

If you don't want to read this extremely long race recap, you can just watch this video that Isaac made instead!

This past Saturday, I ran my first 50 mile race ever. I wish that it had been the perfect experience, but the universe had some other plans.

A week before the race my throat started to hurt. We were going to Ithaca for the weekend to see the 46er Film (amazing!) and I tried to not think about it. Unfortunately, the next morning I woke up sick. I even had to take a day off from work on Monday. I kept worrying all week about the race, especially since I didn't run at all.

Friday morning we left for Ipswich, Massachusetts. I was feeling better, but still not 100%. I knew I was going to start the race, but I wasn't sure about finishing. We went out to dinner with our friend Greg (who would be pacing me the final loop), Sara, her husband and son. Sara was running the marathon and we had met one time before in person at a Thanksgiving day race. It was fun to get together again!

We made our plans for the morning and Mike dropped me off at the hotel so I could get some stuff together before the race. He went to Stop and Shop to get some last minute race day items for me.

I went to bed feeling 50/50 about the race, but I knew there wasn't anything that I could do about it at this point. I slept decently enough and we woke up at 4:30am. We were meeting Greg and Sara in the lobby to leave for the race at 5:15am.

I still wasn't feeling well, but I got ready and then we left the hotel to make the 15 minute drive to the race start. When we got there, the parking lot was already full of cars! I was starting to get nervous, but I just tried to push it out of my mind.

I went into the school and picked up my bib and race shirt. After going to the bathroom I found everyone else and got my stuff on for the race. I decided to wear my arm warmers at the beginning, even though I knew I wouldn't need them the entire race.

 Listening to the pre-race instructions

Right after 6am, we went outside toward the race start. When we got near the start, we saw our friend Isaac and his friend Liz. They made the drive from Maine to support me and I really appreciated them being there!

 With Greg before the start

After a few pre-race announcements (that I couldn't really hear), it was time to start the race. Ready or not, it was time to see what I could do.

Loop 1

The first loop I started out in the back of the pack. I was feeling alright, but I could tell that I hadn't run all week and I felt a little crappy from being sick. The first mile was pretty slow because of bottle-necking, but then we got going. I was in a group of runners for the first 4 miles or so.

The race could be broken up into three 4-ish mile sections. I just focused on getting to the aid stations so that I could see my crew. The trails weren't too leafy, which was good, and I just tried to take it easy. There were these two women behind me the first 4 miles and they were chatting so much that it was annoying me. I just tried to ignore them, but I couldn't.

When I got to the first aid station, I was happy to see those two women go ahead of me! I was also glad that our friend Andy was there, he also made the drive from Maine to see me race. I asked about our friend Heather, who was also racing the 50 miler, and she was a little bit ahead of me. I felt alright and after refilling both my water and tailwind, I kept going. 

The fast marathoners started to catch up to me and it was a little frustrating. A lot of the course was on single track so it was hard to move over. I think the second section of the loop was my favorite and I chatted with a guy about the clown that was going to be out in the woods. I asked if he jumped out at you, and he told me no that he just stood there.

Eventually, I saw Isaac right before the second aid station. I was still not feeling well, but I knew I had to finish at least one loop. My nose was running so much at this point, and I was using my arm warmers as a snot rag (gross, I know). I asked Mike for our tissues, but we had left them in the hotel. I was able to use a paper towel at the aid station and I kept going.

The third section was my least favorite. It had the most uphill and was also the most rocky. I had to be careful of my footing, and knew that later on it would be difficult to navigate. Eventually we went by the clown, and he was CREEPY. The guy I had talked to was behind me at this point, and he caught up to me and said he had asked the clown if he had scared me. We chatted a little bit about the course, he had run it before, and he said that doing it in the reverse direction this year was a little bit more challenging since the hills were at the end.

When I came out of the woods and got on the section where there was two way traffic, I didn't know if I could keep going. I felt worse and I was sweating so much. I saw Isaac right before the start/finish and we walked together for a little bit. I said I didn't know if I could keep going, but my crew convinced me to go out and get to the next aid station.

Loop 2

To be honest, I don't remember much of this loop. I started to feel better during the first section, but then right before the aid station I felt worse. I felt like I was slowing down a lot and that was worrying me already. I made the "I'm done" hand signal to Mike and while walking with Isaac down to the aid station, I said I thought I was done. I felt so bad for everyone coming to support me and I just didn't know if I could go any further.

While contemplating what to do, a volunteer and my crew convinced me to just go to the next aid station and decide from there. Andy had bought me tissues at a convenience store and I was happy to be able to use those since my nose was still running.

I did not feel good, but my crew told me I was doing great time-wise. They also told me that Heather wasn't too far away and had just left the aid station right before I got there. I grabbed a cup of Coke (something I started to look forward to from this point on) and I walked down the trail to keep going.

I actually started to feel better, but still not 100%. About 10 minutes after I left the aid station, I saw Heather! I made it my mission to catch up to her and on a downhill into an uphill, I ran next to her. We walked together for a bit, complained about the hills and then kept running. We were able to be together for a little while, which was a nice way to take my mind off of not feeling well.

 Around 20 miles

I eventually left her and kept going. I saw my crew a few miles later and I was actually doing well at this point. I needed BodyGlide, but Mike couldn't find mine. After waiting a few seconds, I said I had to keep going.

I soon realized that they weren't that far away from the aid station, so they weren't going to see me there. I asked a volunteer for Vaseline or BodyGlide, and they asked me if the BodyGlide on the table was mine. I said it must have been and grabbed it (we think we left it on the table the time before when we were looking for tissues). After refilling my drinks and eating a banana, I kept going. I thought it was a mean trick of my crew to make me keep going to the start/finish.

I knew I was going to be halfway done when I got back to the school and I tried to do my best. The third section of the loop always took it out of me, and after a few runners passed me (the faster 50 milers) I was almost to the two-way traffic spot.

I saw Isaac and I told him I wasn't sure about continuing. I felt horrible and I didn't know if I had 25 more miles left in me. We walked together and I expressed my concern about how slow I was going and how I would slow down even more. He told me I was doing great and that after this next loop, I would have Greg with me.

I ran through the start/finish and then changed my shirt. I needed Crystal to be with me and I put on my #runsitka shirt.

Greg asked if I wanted someone with me, even though it wasn't allowed, since he knew that the third loop was going to be the toughest for me mentally. I told him that I would be alright and off I went.

Loop 3

I took off with a guy using walking sticks and we ran near each other for a little while. About a mile or so into the loop, he got ahead of me and then I was alone for almost the rest of the loop.

When I got to the first aid station, I was told that I had to watch something. I filled my water and tailwind and then Andy showed me a video. It was frozen for a few seconds, but I saw that it was Crystal. I started to get emotional without even knowing what she said and then I watched it.

She told me she was thinking of me and cheering me on from Alaska. She was reminiscing about her first marathon, which was in the cold and rain, and how I was so encouraging for her and also ran through all the puddles, ha. She made me tear up and I knew I had to keep going. I walked away feeling like I just may be able to finish this entire thing.

I ran through the second section all by myself. I never saw a soul. It was weird running through the woods all by myself, but thankfully the course was marked extremely well. And you would think I would have a good sense of the things I would see on the course at this point, but no, I would run things and think "hmmm, I don't remember this from before".

I finally saw Isaac (and this guy Isaac had made friends with who cheered me on all day) and I told him, "what I said at Pineland still holds true, I'd much rather do an Ironman". A faster runner passed me and we kept going to the aid station. Isaac kept telling me I was doing fine for the time cut-off (you had to start your final loop by 3:15pm) and I said I was worried about not making it. I had about an hour and a half to run 4 miles, but the third section of the loop was my least favorite so I knew it would be close.

I don't even really remember the third section, I was passed by faster runners, and I knew I was suffering a little bit more. I was starting to not only feel it due to my illness but also from all the running. There was one point that I thought I maybe missed a turn, and just as I was getting really worried I saw a sign for the race, phew!

I saw Isaac and we walked together toward the start/finish line. I told him I didn't know if I had 12.5 more miles in me. I was really struggling and even when he told me that I would have Greg with me, I didn't know if that would be enough to get me to finish. He kept encouraging me, and if it wasn't for him and the rest of my crew I may not have even made it as far as I already had.

Probably asking Andy if I would see him at the next aid station (he had to leave around 5pm)

I walked toward the start/finish line and I knew I had to try. Greg was ready to run with me and we made our way out for the final loop.

Loop 4

 Taking off for the final loop

I warned Greg that we would probably be walking a lot, and he told me that was alright. We set out and settled into a decent pace. I ran when I could and walked when I needed to. We caught up to another runner and we were with her for almost the entire loop. We weren't exactly sure when the cutoff at the first aid station was (it was 4:30pm) and I was worrying. Greg told me I was going to make it, and when we ran by the guy who had been cheering me on all day he said I had a half an hour on the cut-off.

We got to the aid station and Mike showed me another video Crystal had made me, it was her and all her friends cheering me on. I knew at this point I was going to get 50 miles, I just had to make it under the cut-off.

Greg and I took off and it was starting to get a little dark. We ran near the girl for awhile and I don't remember which section of the loop this happened but two weimaraners almost collided into us! Their owner had them off leash and it really threw off my groove for a little bit.

About a mile before the second aid station, we put on headlamps. Thankfully this part of the race was easier terrain, though Greg kept making sure I was paying attention to my footing and he kept telling me that I was tough as nails.

We could hear Isaac cheering and Greg told him that it was us. Mike told me what some friends were saying about how I was a rock star and amazing, and all I could think was that I had about 3.9 miles left to go.

I knew that the last section was going to be tough. After the first mile it is mostly rocky, uphill single-track and I didn't want to fall so close to the end. We walked quite a bit, but I was still able to run at times. We were near the other runner for a long time, until I got a little bit ahead of her.

With about a mile or so to go, we saw another runner who was struggling because she had the wrong light. Greg gave her one of our extra headlamps and we kept going. It was weird seeing all the lights in the woods running toward the finish line.

Before I knew it, we were at the intersection where the two-way traffic had been. We had less than a mile to go. I walked a few more times and then we hit the field at the school. I ran as fast as I could (which at this point was slow, ha) and Greg left me to run into the finish by myself.

 Finishing in the dark

I approached the finish line, heard Isaac and high-fived Mike. I had done it. I started to cry and then Mike came over to give me a hug and tell me how proud of me he was.

After not knowing whether or not I was going to finish all day long, I crossed the finish line in 11:55:19.

It still hasn't hit me that I ran a 50 mile race. I know for a fact that I would not have finished without the help of my amazing crew. Mike, Isaac and Andy cheered me on all day and made sure I was taken care of and Greg did all of that and paced me the final loop (which I'm sure wasn't easy to keep me going). I had so many people cheering me on from afar and I didn't want to disappoint any of them.

While it wasn't how I wanted it to go, I did it.

And I will do another one, I need a little bit of redemption!

Monday, October 19, 2015

50 Mile Training

I guess you could say that I have been "officially" training for Stone Cat 50 Miler since July 12th. That's the day that I found out at 4:30am (when I woke up to race a 70.3 that day) that I had been picked via lottery to run the race. Though, the term "lottery" is a very loose term, I think almost everyone gets in to the race!

This year has been different for us, we have not really trained using a training plan this year. While that is freeing, it has also been somewhat scary. Have I done enough? Am I going to get injured because I'm not always following the 10% rule?

 Enjoying the view on top of the mountain in Mont Tremblant

The beginning of 50 miler "training", wasn't very 50 miler focused. I still had one more triathlon for the year, the SOS Triathlon, and we went hiking in the Adirondacks, went to Alaska, spectated at Ironman Mont Tremblant and then finally raced SOS the second week in September.

The longest run that I logged in the summer was the half marathon distance (plus a couple of miles when I ran with Crystal some more during her marathon). I did pace someone during their 100K at the end of August, but I only got 16.8 miles in (though that was 4 hours and 20 minutes on my feet).

 We love the 'Daks!

Mike and I even went hiking again back in September. Granted we hiked 14.5 miles and were on our feet for about 9 and half hours, but that wasn't running.

 Crazy hands at the end of the Seneca Trail out and back

So I guess you could say that I didn't really start training for my 50 miler until September 21st. That was my first 40+ run week in awhile (rarely do I hit those miles due to being injury-prone) and the week that I ran 26.3 miles on the Seneca Trail. I felt good after that week.

 Running the Vickery Creek Trail at Roswell Mills with my mom

I took the next week as a cutback week since we had to travel for my brother's wedding. I did get in a 10 miler during the week, though, and got in two solid training runs while in Atlanta.

 Such a fun day! Photo courtesy of Ron Heerkens/The Ascend Collective

Then I raced my second ever 50K, and it went really well! It was on roads, but there was plenty of elevation gain and some solid time on my feet. It was another 40+ mile week.

 Freezing at the start, around 35 degrees outside

This weekend, didn't quite go as planned. I had wanted to try for 36 miles on the Crescent Trail but after a few issues (losing the trail, finding it again, falling on an icy wooden plank and then walking through calf-deep, freezing water) I stopped after 6.75 miles.

I almost thought about tapering early. Yesterday, we had a slow start to the day. After eating breakfast, including coffee, I decided to try for a 13.5 miler. Mike joined me for part of it and at about a mile in, I thought to myself that if I felt good when I got back home at 13.5 miles that I would go back out to get a 20 miler.

 Solid run, time includes stopping in the house for more nutrition

I felt fine enough, except that the coffee and bigger breakfast were bothering me a bit (I never drink coffee before running). I was able to get in a solid 20 miler, and now I can truly taper.

My training hasn't been perfect. I haven't logged 50+ mile weeks, and I only have three 20+ mile runs done.

Recovery run post-50K, photo courtesy of Gustavo

 We love 5AM FIT1! Photo courtesy of Gustavo

I have been able to get out there and run on both Saturday and Sunday, even after my 50K, I have done FIT1 to get stronger, and I have run on trails for the majority of my training. I don't think that there is much else that I can do, and I know I will finish my 50 miler. I have a small time goal in mind, but really I just want to finish. I want to cross that finish line with Mike and some friends there to support me, with a smile on my face, achieving something that I never thought I would want to do or be capable of doing.

I hope that in 19 days, I can do just that.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

CanLake 50K Race Recap

While pacing during the Twisted Branch 100K at the end of August, the runner I was with mentioned CanLake 50K as an option for a training run. I didn't know if it would fit my schedule, but when I got home I checked out the race date. Luckily, it fit and the next thing I knew I was registered for the race.

Granted, I wasn't going to "race" it but I was using it as a training run for my 50 miler.

A little over a month later, race day rolled around!

 One of my handsome "handlers"

Admittedly, I was a bit nervous about how the race was going to go. CanLake 50K (and 50 miler) is on roads. I have been primarily training on trails lately so I had no idea how to pace this thing. Crystal told me to "just run", so that's what I did. I told myself to run around 10 minutes per mile in the beginning and adjust from there.

Saturday morning Mike, Bernie and I made the drive to Canandaigua so that I could pick up my race bib. The 50K actually starts in Naples so after meeting up with Kirsten (who would be pacing me the last 14.5 miles, so amazing!) in the parking lot to finalize some plans, we drove to the race start.

 The three of us

After hanging out for a bit, it was time for the race to start! Kirsten and her dad were at the start too and after a few announcements, we were off!

 Here we go!

The 50K started at a boat launch and we actually ran through the parking lot and then did a u-turn back onto the roads. I passed Mike, Kirsten and her dad and then tried to settle in to a decent pace. Luckily, the 50K isn't as hilly as the 50 miler and the first section of the race was rolling terrain.

 Cheesing it up a tenth of a mile into the race!

A little over a mile into the race, I ran by the first aid station. Technically it wasn't really an aid station for the 50K (though you could have taken something if you needed it) and since I was wearing my hydration vest I just kept going.

Our friend, Ron, was out taking photos about 2 miles into the race and at the end of the same road I saw my crew! Kirsten, Mike and the Bern did a great job cheering me on. These miles went along uneventfully, the terrain wasn't bad and I was enjoying the fall foliage. I'm glad that there were people in front of me during this portion of the race, though I was able to follow the course markings decently enough when I was alone.

We finally made a turn down to Sunnyside and I knew I would see everyone soon. I saw some friends cheering before the aid station and as I approached it I saw Mike, Kirsten and the Bern. Bernie didn't like that I was running by him so much! I skipped the aid station and made my way along the one out and back section of the course.

 I love this photo!

I liked this part, even though it was an out and back. You were able to see other runners and cheer each other on. While I was making my way to the turn around, I saw a dog running with the runners making their way back! I told him to go home but he just kept on running (apparently, he made it all the way to Middlesex, so he probably ran 4-6 miles total!)

At the turn around, a runner who had parked near us at the start said to me, "Bernie was cheering for you!" I laughed and said that he was, and started to make my way back to the aid station. Some of the hills on the way back were more difficult and I walked for the first time in the race right around 8 miles.

When I got to the aid station, I ate a banana and walked to talk with Mike and Kirsten a bit. I told Mike I would need some more Tailwind at the next aid station and then kept going. (Bern was in the car at this point because of the loose dog). As I was leaving, Kirsten told me this was her favorite road and to enjoy it!

I did like this road, it was rolling terrain and there were some pretty views. Mike, Kirsten and Bern drove by me and they told me I was doing great. My average pace for the first 8 miles had been sub-10 minute pace but I slowed to 10 minute pace the next few miles. I still felt great and I hoped that the feeling would continue!

Running up a hill on West Avenue, photo courtesy of Ron Heerkens/The Ascend Collective

As I made my way up a hill on this section of the race, I saw Mike and Kirsten in the distance. I could also see our friend, Ron, taking photos. I ran up the hill and Mike asked if I wanted my Tailwind then. I said we might as well fill it and kept going after that was done.

I didn't have much further to go to get to the next aid station. Mike and Kirsten stopped to cheer me on here. Since I just had Mike fill my Tailwind and I had just eaten an energy chew, I skipped this aid station. My water was actually too full so I didn't need to refill that at all.

I knew that this point of the race was going to bring some hills. Miles 13-20 had the major hills on the 50K course, but I was ready. I knew that I would walk when I needed to and run when I could. After leaving the aid station, I was able to run for a bit before being greeted by the first hill. I alternated between running and walking different sections of the hill and Mike and Kirsten passed me when I was walking. They both said, "your shoes look great!" which made me laugh. They also said they had seen me running up the hill (at this point I was walking) and they were wondering what I was doing! I said I was going to run/walk up it and they said they would see me soon and that Kirsten was excited to run with me!

I made sure to turn around while walking up the hill because Kirsten's dad said to do so. The views were gorgeous!

I was able to pass two people up the hill and no one passed me. When I made it to the top, I told myself to run. I turned left down Vine Valley and I got excited because Kirsten would be joining me soon. This part of the race was mostly downhill, which actually hurt a little bit!

One of the runners I had passed caught up to me and after going back and forth a bit, we turned down to the Vine Valley aid station at the same time. I told him we were half way done and then I saw Mike and Kirsten. The aid station volunteer got my bib number and I went to the bathroom while Mike got me some Body Glide (I was drinking water and Tailwind every half mile so I really had to go to the bathroom!).

 My lovely pacer, Kirsten (I have banana in my mouth, ha)

I told Mike my water was too full, and he drank some of it to help me out a bit (it was banging on my back). After grabbing a banana, Kirsten and I headed out for the last 14.5 miles.

 Here we go!

While asking me about her pacing duties, I told Kirsten I really just wanted company. Since I wasn't "racing", I just wanted to maintain a decent pace, walk the uphills and run the downhills. I told her she could yell at me if I was walking a downhill, though!

We talked about everything, races, friends, Mike, Bernie (she loves him) and everything in between. I really appreciated her being there and taking my mind off of what I was doing. She kept telling me I was doing great and that she was so impressed. I felt bad because the beginning of her section started out with an uphill!

Running up North Vine Valley

 The barn

We saw Mike at the wolf barn (something Kirsten's dad had told us to look out for) and we kept going. We saw the guy that I had been running with in the distance, and Kirsten said we would pass him eventually.

When we started to run downhill, I saw Mike in the distance. We made the turn and there it was, the hill on Bare Hill Road. Mike cheered us on and I knew we would be walking up the majority of this hill. It is steep and long. I was able to run a little bit, but then Kirsten and I just power walked up the rest of it.

I was happy when I got to the aid station because the worst was over! I grabbed some water and Coke from the aid station, and an orange. We left the aid station and had to walk a bit more since the hill continued. 

The rest of the race is a bit of a blur, we did pass the guy I had been running with for a bit and we never saw him again until the end of the race. I do remember it felt like it took forever for Mike to drive by us and after we made a turn to the right we saw Mike drive by. He stopped along the side of the road later on and said that the view was too good to pass up!

 Such a good boy, he did great all day!

 Having a great time!

I was walking a bit more than I had been in the beginning but I was able to run the downhills and most of the flats. I actually felt really good, except that my legs were starting to hurt a little. Kirsten said that if my legs didn't hurt, I wasn't doing something right. We crossed an intersection and after a small hill, we were at the second to last aid station.

I had Mike fill up my Tailwind, drank some water and Coke and grabbed a banana. I was happy because I could break up the remaining miles into small chunks. We left and started walking a bit so I could finish eating my banana and then we kept running. During this section we hit the marathon distance, and I told Kirsten that it was faster than my first marathon time (I hit the marathon distance around 4:52).

Kirsten was an amazing pacer because when we would get to an intersection I would say, "I wonder which way we go?" and she would run ahead to tell me. Mike also was amazing because he stopped at some of the tricky spots to make sure I knew which way to go! I had an awesome team taking care of me!

Happy to be out running on this beautiful day

When we ran by Mike, he said he would see us at the last aid station. The miles kept ticking by, it really didn't feel like I had been running for as long as I had been. When we got to the final aid station, I gave the Bern a kiss and told him that it was almost over. I grabbed some more Coke and water and two orange slices. I had been contemplating giving Mike my hydration vest, but Kirsten asked if I was going to be wearing it the entire time during my 50 miler and said I should keep wearing it (I did end up drinking some more water and Tailwind so it's good that I kept it).

When we left, I asked Mike if he was going to stop one more time or just go to the finish. He said he was going to go to the finish, so we said we'd see him there! I only had 3.5 miles more to go to get there.

The last 3.5 miles weren't too bad. We kept running down the same road the aid station was on and then we turned left back toward the community college in Canandaigua. Kirsten told me that we would be able to see FLCC soon and we had one more hill to get up before starting to run downhill again.

Soon we saw a sign for FLCC and Kirsten mentioned that she was pretty sure the right hand turn we needed to take was coming up. And sure enough, it was! Two volunteers helped us cross the road and we kept going. I was running quite a bit at this point and we finally got to a cul-de-sac and a small barrier. We had been told to run down the cul-de-sac and we ran down the rocky/gravelly hill to a small grassy section. Kirsten joked that I had told her it was going to be roads not trails!

After turning to go up toward the college, we walked a bit up the final hill and then I ran. I knew that I was almost there (my watch was already at 31 miles) and I kept pushing. Finally, I saw people and the finish line in the distance. We took the final turn and Kirsten said she would see me after the finish.

 The finish is so close

 50K x 2!

I ran by Mike and other friends cheering me on and then I crossed the finish line! I was an ultramarathoner x 2!

Mike had estimated that I would finish in 6 hours and 15 minutes, and all day he kept telling Kirsten that I was surpassing his expectations. I finished in 5:53:11 and came in 17th out of 47 people in the 50K and I was 8th female out of 23.

I am extremely happy with how this race/training run went. I could have kept going and I said to Mike after, "only 19 miles more". I think that I am in a good place mentally and I am ready to tackle Stone Cat 50 miler in a few weeks!

I am so lucky to have people like Mike and Kirsten in my life. My day would not have been as amazing if it weren't for them!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Seneca Trail Redemption

Back in April, I attempted to run the entire Seneca Trail (out and back) as a training run for my 50K. I had also made it a goal for the year to do so, but I only made it to 21 miles before I decided to stop. The trails were very wet and I would have had to run the last 6 miles by myself, and I didn't feel comfortable (at the time) doing so.

I decided that I would attempt to accomplish this goal again in the fall before hunting season started. I picked the final fall weekend that the entire trail would be open and invited a few friends to join me.

 The sunrise on the way to pick up Todd, I made Mike stop as per usual

Saturday was the day to attempt my second try at running the entire trail. Due to Mike's sprained ankle, he wasn't going to run (he is better, he is just letting it fully heal now that he has no more races left for the year). He did drive around all morning while the rest of us ran, which I really appreciated!

At the start, excited to do this!

 The five of us, Todd is really excited about running

Only a few friends joined, which worked out well. Todd and Prem started the run with me at the generator (the official start to the Seneca Trail) at 7am. We met up with Alison and Jen, who also planned to run 25-26 miles, about a half a mile into our run.

The five of us ran together for about 9 miles. Prem had to leave early due to another commitment, but it was great having him there! Jen and Alison got ahead of me and Todd a little bit, but we all ran through the final 2-3 miles to the halfway point together.

 Into the woods we go

I like this photo

Still feeling good

Mike met us at the halfway point, and I was still feeling really good! I drank Tailwind the entire run and ate some energy chews here and there. At the halfway point I ate a banana that Todd brought, and I think that really helped me feel better.

The four of us started out together to head back to the start of our run. Alison and Jen got ahead of me and Todd again, but Mike made sure to check in on them at each of his stopping points.

Todd and I are good running partners. We didn't talk much, only when we needed to, but we complimented our strengths/weaknesses well. Todd is a better hill runner than me and he would get ahead of me a bit, but then I would catch up on the flat/downhill part.

When I hit 20 miles, I knew I was going to finish. I could tell that I was getting tired, but I kept pushing on. There were a few miles in the end that had a bit of walking, but I just kept going.

Up we go

Right before we reached a spot Mike planned to stop at, we saw Prem! He came back and said he couldn't miss the finish. I really appreciated his support and the fact that he wanted to come back. After refilling my Tailwind (with some confusion between me and Mike due to my unclear request, ha) the three of us pushed on. This was the hardest part for me because it is a slight incline for awhile. Todd pushed me to run as much as I could, though I did walk a bit.

The final mile and a half went by really quick, especially after the last two uphills. I was surprised to see the parking lot where Jen and Alison finished, it felt like I shouldn't be almost done yet!

I love how Todd and I are making the same face!

 So happy to be done!

Todd, Prem and I pushed on to finish out the last half mile of the run. When I saw Mike in the distance I was so happy. Even though this wasn't a race, it was a huge goal of mine for the year. I am proud that I tackled the Seneca Trail again after a failed attempt in the spring.

I feel like my time, 6:02:12 for the 26.39 miles that my watch registered (which includes all stops, about 15 minutes total of stopping), is a good indication of what I am capable of at my 50 miler. We'll see!