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!


  1. Nice work! How awesome that you are going for a 50 miler. It looks like you had a perfect day for the 50K and lots of fun along the course. Congrats!

  2. Woohoo! Sounds like a great outing and a definite confidence booster. You are ready!

  3. So wonderful that you had such an amazing crew there with you the whole time. You have the best running buddies and you did amazing.