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!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Another ADK Adventure

This past weekend, Mike, Bernie and I went to the Adirondacks for another adventure!

It truly is getting harder and harder to leave this magical place, and we have only been there a few times this year! Mike and I have the goal of becoming ADK 46ers, when it will actually happen we aren't sure - I guess it depends on how often we can get up there every year.

The Bern isn't sure what awaits him the next day!

This time we left Rochester after work and got to our cabin at the KOA in Wilmington around 10pm. We had stopped at a Stewarts quickly for some sandwiches for dinner. We got our cabin set up quickly and got our stuff ready for the next day's adventure before settling in for the night.

 I made Mike turn around so I could get a sunrise photo

At 5:15am we woke up and got ready for a full day of hiking. Thankfully, we only had a 30 minute drive to the South Meadow truck trail this time, so we didn't have to rush. We got there a little bit before 7am and after getting all of our last minute stuff together, the three of us were off at 7:10am.

 Starting off our day at the South Meadow truck trail!

Signing in at the register, about .2 miles into our hike

Our plan was to hike Tabletop and Phelps, with a stop at Indian Falls along the way. The first 2.6ish miles were relatively uneventful. Since it was so early we only saw one other person at the register (who later passed us while we were taking some photos). Most people start the hike we were doing from the ADK Loj, but we didn't feel like paying for parking! Our route added about a mile to the hike, but since this portion was flat, we didn't really mind.

 Marcy Dam

We made it to Marcy Dam and made sure to take some photos since it is in the process of being torn down due to repeat damage during storms.

At this point in our day we kept going on the Van Hoevenberg Trail, the same trail people use to get to Mt. Marcy. We passed by the junction for Phelps Mountain but we kept going toward Tabletop.

 The Bern loves hiking!

Part of the trail on the way to Tabletop

Our first major stop of the day was at Indian Falls. I am so glad we went here! It only adds about .2 miles to the trip so it is definitely worth it! I think it was our favorite part of the day, the views are amazing.

 This view alone was worth the hike

 My family <3

After some exploring and photos, we kept going back toward the Tabletop herd path. Tabletop is a trail-less, unmaintained peak. However, the herd path is well traveled and was easy to follow. Thankfully, the trail wasn't too wet, and while it was narrow in some spots we were able to get up it with relative ease. We saw one person coming down the mountain while we were going up. I didn't think we would see many people because mostly aspiring 46ers climb Tabletop Mountain.

 Making our way up the herd path

 Tabletop Mountain - 19th of the 46 high peaks at 4,413 feet

This turned out well for using the timer on my camera!

We reached the summit of our 3rd High Peak at 10:50am. Although it is a wooded summit we were able to get some views while up there. We took a few photos, and a father/son duo reached the summit right before we were going to head back down. I took some photos for them and then we found out that they were also going hike Phelps. We said we hoped we'd see each other up there and then we went on our way.

We actually saw a lot of people going up the mountain while we were heading back down. I was surprised! Lots of aspiring 46ers out there on Saturday.

 Ready to tackle our 4th high peak!

We went back down the same way we came, all the way back to the junction for Phelps Mountain. Since it was still early enough we planned to eat lunch at the summit. While taking a water break for Bernie at the junction, the father/son duo caught up to us. We kind of went back and forth with each other up the entire mountain.

The trail to the top of Phelps climbs relatively quickly, about 1,200 feet over a mile. We took a few breaks here and there for the Bern and took in the views along the way. There were some rock scrambles that were interesting for Bernie, but we managed.

He's so handsome

The trees started to thin out as we got closer to the top, and after walking through a little trail in the woods we came out on to a rock shelf. We decided that the cairn there marked the summit and took in the views for awhile. We got to the summit around 1:25pm.

 The cairn

It was so windy that we went back into the wooded area to eat our lunch. Bernie enjoyed the break as well! We went back out to the open summit to take some photos and appreciate the views some more. It was gorgeous!

The 4th high peak for our family! Phelps is the 32nd highest of the 46 peaks at 4,160 feet

Taking in the views

We started to make our way back down to connect with the Van Hoevenberg trail again. Luckily, after getting down the Phelps trail the rest of the way wasn't too bad. We did take a few breaks for Bernie, who was getting tired, here and there.

 Appreciating a little rest

 I love this photo of them!

 Checking us out at the register

It started to rain slightly as we were walking along the South Meadow truck trail, but nothing major. After getting back to the register to check out, we got back to our car at 4:30pm, for a total hike time of 9 hours and 20 minutes. Our hike ended up being 14.5 miles.

 This is a tired pup!

We ended the day with some dinner at Noon Mark Diner, I'm not even going to say how many pieces of pie we ate! We did have plans to hike Big Slide the next day, but Bernie was too tired. I think we found his hiking limit and we are going to try to only do 10 mile hikes or less with him from now on.

It was a great weekend, and I am missing the mountains quite a bit right now!

Monday, September 21, 2015

SOS Triathlon - Swim/Run/Swim/Run

Did you miss the first two recaps? Check them out, here and here!

After rounding the corner on the second run leg of the day, I came up on Lake Minnewaska. The volunteer told me to cross the timing mat, which started my second swim of the day.

Swim Leg 2 (.5 miles) - Jamie: 17:09, Mike: 15:33

This swim is "slower" for me because it includes putting my shoes in my shorts prior to my swim and taking them out of my shorts after my swim. The timing for each leg is all based on when you cross the timing mats, since there are no transitions.

The weather had cleared up, finally, and it was a beautiful blue sky day! I got my stuff on as quickly as I could, crossed the timing mat again (after making sure it wouldn't mess anything up) and got in the water. This time it was an easier water entry and we had a rope to follow the entire time with multiple buoys along the way.

Our sherpas waiting on the rock for us, photo courtesy of Peter J. Scott

I really enjoyed this swim. The views were gorgeous, the water temperature was great and I was able to pass a few more people. I really liked having the rope to follow, although I got pretty close to it sometimes!

 Mike exiting the water getting ready to start the third run of the day

After a few minutes, I could see the rocks that we were swimming toward for the swim exit. We swam by a small island in the lake and then after a few more strokes I was almost to the swim exit. There was a volunteer standing in the water and I swam as close to the edge as possible. There was a rock landing in the water and I was able to stand up on it.

Exiting the swim

I got out of the water and started to get ready for my run. I grabbed some water and an energy chew, and while I was doing so I heard our sherpas cheering me on! Kirsten yelled, "do it for the Bern!" (Meaning our dog, not the "burn" we were feeling in our legs at this point).

I crossed the timing mat and it was time to start the longest run of the day!

Run Leg 3 (8 miles) - Jamie: 1:23:09, Mike: 1:34:32

Not really sure what the face is about!

I ran up the rocks and saw our three sherpas, Mort and Danielle cheered me on as I ran by. Kirsten told me that Mike's quads were hurting but his ankle was alright. I knew that meant he was going to finish and I went on my way.

This run was the longest of the day. It was easy to break it up into chunks because there were aid stations approximately every two miles.

The first portion of this run was down a paved road, at this point in the race that hurt! I kept hoping we were going to get to the carriageway again, and eventually we did! We turned right to get back on the Awosting Falls Carriageway.

Running by the falls

 Happy to be back on the carriageway

I loved the first miles of this run. Almost immediately after getting back on the carriageway, we ran by the Awosting Falls. Due to the rain, it was roaring! I couldn't stop looking at it. I was able to pass a few other runners during this part of the run, thankfully one woman was close behind me at a fork in the trail. The sign for the race had fallen down and it was crumbled up on the ground! I kind of wavered and the woman behind me said, "to the right!"

I thanked her and kept going. We got to the first aid station soon after around 2 miles. I asked for Coke and water. There was also a dog there and I made sure to pet him!

I kept going back into the woods and enjoyed the scenery. There was a slightly wet bridge crossing, and I think I heard some cyclists yell, "are you alright?!" Someone behind me may have fallen, but I was too far away to be able to tell.

One woman and I were running near each other for a lot of this leg. We both approached the second aid station at Trapp's Bridge together. I just grabbed an energy chew and some water, and pet another dog before continuing on my way.

The last portion of this run was harder and I needed to take a few walk breaks here and there. There were rolling hills between the second and third aid stations, but the path was gorgeous. I was running alone for the majority of this part of the run.

When I got to the third aid station, I asked for Coke and water. There were two women in front of me and when I continued on there it was - Godzilla. This hill was tough! I hiked up it as quickly as I could, and ran a few steps here and there. It just seemed never ending. Even when you got to the top of the steepest part, it kept going up. I was able to run a bit more and passed a guy making his way up.

It finally flattened out a bit and I saw a man sitting in the middle of the path. He directed me to the left on a small single-track path through the woods. I ran along this and then ran down toward the lake. A woman helped direct me down the easiest part of the trail and I turned to the left to finish out the run.

As I got ready for the final swim in Mohonk Lake, a volunteer told me I was the 91st person to come through. Since there were waves, I didn't think that meant I would be the 91st person to finish though (ironically, I was 91st overall).

Swim Leg 3 (.5 miles) - Jamie: 13:34, Mike: 14:38

I walked into the water and knew that I didn't have much left of the race. Another woman and I got into the water at the same time, but I pulled ahead of her right away. There weren't many other people in the water at the same time as me, at least in front of me, so I only passed one more person.

This lake was just as picturesque as the second and I really enjoyed the third and final swim. It was over before I knew it, though!

I could see the swim exit in the distance, there were a lot of people spectating this part of the race, and after a few more strokes I got to the end of the swim. This portion of the race has a small climb out of the water, and I had to wait for another athlete in front of me before I could start to climb my way out.

Once at the top, I crossed the timing mat for the final leg of the race!

Run Leg 4 (.7 miles) - Jamie: 7:15, Mike: 8:00

I also don't think that this leg is what it is advertised at, my watch got closer to .5 miles so that's what I logged it as!

While swimming, I made the decision to not put my socks on for the final run leg of the day. Since it was so short, I figured I could tolerate it and not waste the time putting them back on. I ran by a volunteer who told me to turn to the right and make the climb up to the top of the mountain.

The Skytop Path to the top was no joke! I had to hike up the majority of it, but I was able to get in a few run steps here and there. There were other participants and spectators walking back down and they told me I was almost there.

 All done!

I kept climbing and then when I approached some stairs, I saw Kirsten! She cheered me on and when I got to the top of the stairs, I saw Greg. I started running to the finish line and then I was done! I was a Survivor!

I am a Survivor!

Finishing Times - Jamie: 6:09:12, Mike: 6:10:52

As soon as I crossed the finish line, I saw Mike and Danielle walking toward me. I was so glad that Mike had a finisher's medal around his neck! After taking some photos with our group, with a walk up the tower, we went to go get some food and make the drive back home.

 The Survivors from Rochester, photo courtesy of Beth

Survivors with our Sherpas, and a random girl we acquired, photo courtesy of Danielle

After we got home, I found out that I had won my age group! I didn't even see anyone in my age group all day, except at the start of our bike wave, so I assumed I had come in last in my age group. It was a nice surprise.

I know Mike wasn't 100% happy with his time, but I am so glad that he was able to finish the race considering his sprained ankle. I know we'll be back to SOS sometime soon!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

SOS Triathlon - Run/Swim/Run

Did you miss the bike leg recap? Check it out, here!

After climbing 1,000 feet the last 5 miles of the bike leg, I finally rode into the transition area. As soon as I crossed the timing mat, I saw our Sherpas! I gave my bike to Kirsten and my helmet and sunglasses to Danielle. Since there are no transition times for SOS Triathlon, this part was technically during my first run leg.

Run Leg 1 (4.5 miles) - Jamie: 49:04, Mike: 47:20

 Amazing sherpas! Photo courtesy of Beth

Danielle led me to Mike's SUV where they had all of our race stuff out (well, only mine since everyone else was ahead of me). Danielle grabbed my shoes and started to help me put them on and Mort gave me my swim cap and goggles. I already had my socks on (some people do run without socks, but I needed some extra protection for my feet) and my speedsuit half way on. After grabbing the Clif bar out of my tri top's pocket and handing it to Danielle, I was on my way.

SOS is unique since after the first bike leg, you continue the day by alternating between running and swimming. You only have a Sherpa after the bike leg and then must continue to carry everything with you the rest of the day. You have to run with your swimming stuff and swim with your running stuff. As a result, I went minimal and only had my shoes, socks, cap and goggles. I used the nutrition and fluids on the course for the rest of the race.

The first run started out with a small incline. I was able to run and walk up pretty quickly. I passed a few people and then I seemed to settle into my spot for awhile. It was still cloudy out at this point, but it wasn't raining. There were some really beautiful views and some streams along the route.

The route was a gradual climb for the first 2 miles and then right before 2.5 miles we climbed up Cardiac Hill. I was able to hike up it quickly, and ran a few steps, before welcoming a flatter section of the course.

Not long after the climb, we went by an aid station. I took an energy chew and some water before continuing on. Not soon after, some other participants passed me from the other direction. I was really confused and asked a man near me if it was an out and back. He said no, and that maybe the lakes were closed (since there were threats of lightning the race had told us that there was a possibility some of the lakes could be closed and we would just run to the next section of the race).

I asked some spectators if the lakes were closed, and they thought I said "close". We eventually figured out that the people going by us in the other direction had finished the first swim (I didn't realize the two run courses were so close together).

This section of the run was pretty rocky, there was even a sign warning about "rough trails". The majority of the runs were on carriage roads with gravel, but this section was wet and rocky. I worried about Mike's ankle and focused on my footing. I thought this run leg was going to be 5.5 miles for some reason, but right around 4.5 miles I ran up to the first swim start.

Before I crossed the timing mat, I got my swim cap on and my goggles ready. I took my shoes and socks off and shoved them into the shorts of my speed suit and then zipped up my speed suit to get ready to swim.

Swim Leg 1 (1.1 miles) - Jamie: 29:26, Mike: 28:16

I crossed the mat and then walked down the small trail onto a rock at the edge of Lake Awosting. We were told at the pre-race meeting that we would have to jump in, but I decided to sit down and slide in. I passed people swimming immediately, and started to make up ground (or water?)

There was one buoy at the start of the swim and we had been told to keep the buoys to our right. However, there wasn't another buoy until the end of the swim! Luckily, there were plenty of other people swimming and I just used them to sight off of. There were plenty of kayakers to keep us on course as well.

The water felt great and I loved the swimming parts of the race! It felt good to pass so many people and I was really enjoying myself.

Toward the end of this swim, it got really foggy. At first I thought it was raining, since it also became a bit choppier in the water, but I think that the water temperature was a lot warmer than the air temperature.

Eventually, I saw the buoy indicating the end of the swim. I kept swimming right up to the edge of the lake and then I stood up to get out of the water.

Run Leg 2 (5.5 miles) - Jamie: 46:32, Mike: 55:48

Disclaimer: While the race advertises this section as 5.5 miles, due to a change in the course I believe it was closer to 4.5 miles (that's what I am logging it as anyway).

After crossing the timing mat, I took my goggles and cap off, unzipped my speedsuit and got my shoes and socks back on. A volunteer got me some water while doing so, and then I was ready to run.

We went through a small path along the water's edge before coming back out onto the main carriage path. I ran by the aid station again, and while I asked for water I was handed Gatorade. I drank it anyway and then kept going.

I LOVED this run leg. It was beautiful with plenty of downhill, but also some uphill. The course had been changed due to some construction work on the original course, but I think that benefited us since the other course is harder!

The run from Awosting Lake to Minnewaska Lake took us through the carriage paths and after going to the right near some volunteers, I was alone for awhile. We had a brief uphill and then for a few miles it was nice downhill.

The views were amazing, and even though the weather was improving I really wish it hadn't been as foggy as it was up there! We were running along the ridge and I tried to take it all in even though I was racing.

 Thankfully there were these signs on the course! Photo courtesy of Peter J. Scott

After going by a sign directing us on to the new course via the Hamilton Point Carriageway, I had a momentary feeling that I was going the wrong way. Even though I could see a woman up ahead of me, no one else was around! We kept going this way and then eventually I saw a pink sign for the race. I was able to keep up a good pace on this run and pass a few more people.

I took some water at an aid station and an energy chew and then kept going. The sun was coming out at this point, but luckily we were still going downhill. Eventually we had a steep downhill and then a steep uphill before the course flattened out again.

I was near another woman for a little while and we ran by some spectators. They told us we were really close to the next swim, which I was surprised about since I was expecting the run to be around 5.5 miles.

After rounding a corner on a downhill, we were greeted by a volunteer yelling, "welcome to Lake Minnewaska!" I then crossed the timing mat before starting my second swim of the day.

Next up, the final two swims and runs!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

SOS Triathlon - Bike Leg

This past weekend was the SOS (Survival of the Shawangunks) Triathlon, a race we saw on the YES Network's show "Running" a few years ago and ever since we have wanted to do it!

Registration for SOS took place at midnight on November 1st last year, and Mike, our two friends, Greg and Beth, and I all got in. The general registration sold out in 4 minutes! (They do the rest of the 50 spots via lottery or you can get in through a charity spot).

SOS has eight stages: 30 mile bike, 4.5 mile run, 1.1 mile swim, 5.5 mile run, .5 mile swim, 8 mile run, .5 mile swim and a .7 mile run. It is unique, not only because of that, but also because you need a Sherpa to take all of your bike stuff and help you with your run/swim stuff before you continue on with your day.

After some Sherpa hiccups, the four of us ended up with three amazing Sherpas who truly made our weekend race experience. Danielle, Kirsten and Mort were amazing and took care of us all weekend, not just at the race! We really can't thank them enough.

 Our amazing Sherpas! Photo courtesy of Beth

The seven of us stayed in an Airbnb house together, which also made the weekend. It was fun hanging out and relaxing together before Sunday's race.


Mike went into the race unsure about whether he was going to be able to race, let alone finish. Two weeks ago he sprained his ankle during a trail run and after taking almost two full weeks off (with only one swim, one ride and a failed attempt at a run only 4 days before the race), I didn't know what was going to happen. Thankfully, our 2 mile shakeout run on Saturday went well and he went into the race a little bit more confident that he could at least attempt to race.

Sunday morning we all woke up, took care of things for our house rental and packed up the cars. We were out and on the road by 5:35am. We had to drop one of our cars so that our Sherpas only had two cars to deal with during the race. After that we made our way to the start at the Ulster County Fair Grounds.

With Beth and Danielle, photo courtesy of Beth

People were already arriving when we got there and after checking in, getting body marked and getting our bike stuff ready, it was almost time to race! SOS starts with multiple bike waves in order to reduce congestion during a bike start. Mike was in the first wave, Greg was in the fourth wave, I was in the sixth wave and Beth was in the seventh wave.

Mike is ready to go! Photo courtesy of Mort

 I look tired, photo courtesy of Mort

Thankfully the weather turned out better than expected! The roads were wet from rain over night and the skies were still dark, but it wasn't raining at all (some drizzling here and there).

After going to the bathroom, we heard that it was 10 minutes until the start! We all had to go line up with our respective waves, and after a kiss, Mike and I wished each other luck. I knew I wouldn't see him or Greg the rest of the race. I joked with Beth that I would see her in three minutes after my wave took off!

Mike's wave took off and then each wave after that was sent a minute apart. Finally, it was my wave's turn. I was in the middle of the pack and when it was time to go I took off and settled in.

I could tell I was further back in my wave, if not last, but I tried not to let that bother me. I know cycling is my weakest sport and I also thought people were going really fast! I averaged around 18mph the first 10 miles and everyone else was flying by me!

About 5 minutes in to my ride, Beth went by me. I told her she was late and she went on her way. I didn't see her again the rest of the race. Pretty soon the rest of her wave started to pass me.

The first 10 miles were pretty uneventful. The route was flat at this point and I enjoyed some of the scenery, especially riding by some sunflowers! More people in the later waves passed me, and I will admit it is a bit frustrating but I just banked on passing most of them on the runs and swims later.

Around 10 miles there was one section that was a bit scary. We had driven the course on Saturday so we already knew about it, and they warned us about it during the pre-race meeting, but it was still nerve-wracking! The section was downhill with some sharp turns, but thankfully it wasn't pouring out! There were volunteers holding signs that said, "SLOW", and I made sure to not ride in aero down this section. Also, no one was near me at this point so I didn't have to worry about any other riders.

There was a woman right in front of me the rest of the ride, but I couldn't catch her. I did keep her in my sights, though! The next 15 miles were all rolling, with one significant climb. I was still doing pretty well with my overall MPH, but I knew I was going to slow down the last 5 miles.

I went by a guy who had a flat around 20 miles, I saw two people during the bike leg with flats!

A woman passed by with with only a couple miles until the final turn on the bike leg. We made our way down the road and saw a cop car in the distance indicating the left-hand turn. I knew this part was going to be difficult, about 1,000 feet of elevation gain over the next 5 miles, but I just tried to get up the climb as quickly as possible!

I kept switching places with the woman who had passed me out on the main road, she would go by me when we weren't climbing (luckily there were a few places that provided some relief from the climb). I was able to pass a few other people on the climbs as well. One thing I noticed during this part of the bike leg was how much water was running along the side of the road! I guess it had rained a lot the night before!

The views were incredible, there was one scenic overlook and I tried to take it all in before continuing on to finish up the bike leg. Eventually, I rode by two volunteers radioing in our race numbers. I knew that meant the transition area was coming up!

After a little bit more climbing, there it was! I saw the transition area. I dismounted my bike and looked for our Sherpas.

And since, technically, the transition is part of my first run leg's time, you'll just have to wait to find out how the rest went!

Bike Leg (30 miles) - Jamie: 2:03:05 (14.6 MPH), Mike: 1:46:48 (16.9 MPH)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Running with a Stranger

Last week I posted on Facebook that I had a 20 mile run planned and offered for people to join me if they were interested. One friend replied that I should consider pacing at a local race instead. I decided to go for it and advertised my willingness to pace on the race's Facebook page.

After a few people didn't work out, I was able to connect with a runner interested in a pacer. Someone I had never met before. After discussing our paces, we decided that we would be a good fit.

I have to admit, I was a little bit nervous about pacing someone I had never met before. I have had friends pace me during races and I have paced other friends during their races, but never a stranger. And it's not like we were going to be running a few miles together, we were going to be together for hours and hours.

Regardless, I knew that if I had a pacer during a 100K (yes, 100K) I would be thrilled, even if it was someone I had never met before.

Saturday morning he started updating me on his status around the third aid station. Since the pacer pick-up location was about an hour and a half away from our house we wanted to leave with enough time to get there before he arrived. Mike and Bernie came along as support!

 Taking off into the woods

After waiting for about an hour, he arrived! Immediately, I knew I had nothing to worry about. He was so appreciative of just having me there that all my nerves went away.

Although, I was still nervous about the actual run! Since I am just starting 50 mile training and haven't been on trails lately, I knew I was in for a challenge. Even if we were going slower than my normal pace (but probably not much slower on these trails!)

Twisted Branch 100K is run along the Finger Lakes Trail, the portion I ran on was part of the Bristol Hills Branch. It was tough! I had also never run on this portion of the Finger Lakes Trail before so I didn't really know what to expect. There were a lot of roots, rocks, some water crossings, but thankfully not a lot of mud.

We talked when we could, about our jobs, running/triathlon, Bernie, anything to take his mind off of what he was doing. We walked up the hills and we ran the downhills.

Aid Station photo

Snack time

Heading back out for more miles

We hit the first aid station about 6.2 miles into my run. Thankfully crew members could go to this part of the race, so we saw Mike and some other friends there.

The next part was tough, we had 8 miles to go to the next aid station. We also messed up at one point and ran along the road when we thought we had to follow the flags instead of the trail. Thankfully, a race photographer yelled to us that we were going the wrong way (someone must have moved the flags)! That took a little bit out of us, and then we had to go up a huge hill!

Around 12 miles (for me), I started to not feel very well. My legs were fine, but in the morning I could tell I wasn't feeling 100%. Add in the tough terrain and the climbs, I didn't know if I could make it the entire way.

 Running along the trail

When we finally got to the next aid station (it felt like it was never going to appear), I drank some Tailwind, ate some oranges and realized I couldn't stop at this aid station. The volunteers took an ATV in so no cars could get to this point in the race. We decided I would keep going since it was mostly downhill the next 5 miles.

After another intense climb and some more downhill, we made it to a road crossing. It was here that I made my decision - I had to stop. I felt like I was a detriment to his race and I didn't want to hold him back. Thankfully, there was another runner near us at this point and she offered to run with him. If we had to run on trails all the way back to the next aid station and/or no one else was near us, I would have kept going (he also had a different pacer who was going to run the final 4-5 miles with him, so he only went 2ish miles without a "pacer").

 Only 4.5 miles to go!

In the end I ran about 17 miles in 4 hours and 20 minutes. My portion of the run had almost 3,000 feet of elevation gain, definitely not easy (the entire race had about 10,000 feet of elevation gain)!

Mike picked me up and we stayed until our new friend crossed the finish line!

I had a great experience pacing, I just wish that I had felt better and could have run all the miles I was supposed to with him. If you ever get the opportunity to pace someone, even a stranger, I would suggest that you jump at the chance!