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Posts Tagged ‘Letchworth State Park’

This past Saturday I ran my longest distance ever… 13.1 miles! I finally accomplished my goal of running a 1/2 marathon. Joel and I ran the Sehgahunda Trail Marathon and Relay as a two person relay. The race took place on the Finger Lakes Trail, which is on the east side of Letchworth State Park. It was super hilly. It was hard.

Two years ago, Joel and I ran this race as a four person relay. At that time, my leg happened to be leg 1 and Joel’s leg was leg 3. I felt amazing after completing my leg. It was actually pretty easy. Joel’s leg on the other hand was not as easy… he mentioned that it was pretty hilly and technical.

This year, Joel ran legs 1 and 2 and I ran legs 3 and 4. Julia and I sent him off and cheered for him along the way. He looked great at the end of leg one, which was 6.1 miles… he maintained a good pace and seemed happy. The next checkpoint was around 8.6 miles and he still looked great and mentioned that he would probably finish his second leg after an hour and 10 minutes or so.

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Off they go!

Julia and I caravaned to the third checkpoint and I prepared for my run. My allergies (or whatever it was) during the week leading up to the race were terrible! I was super congested, my nose was running like a river, and had headaches. The allergy pill that I was taking did not seem to do too much for it. I hoped that by race day it would be better, but no such luck. So after taking some acetaminophen and some saline spray in my nose, I was set.

Joel took a bit longer to finish than what he predicted. I was was not worried, but I felt a little uneasy. As soon as I saw him, I grabbed Julia’s hand and we headed over to the trail. He did not look as great as he did at the last checkpoint. He mentioned that the terrain got more technical and hillier. He was tired. He just ran 15 miles. I grabbed the timing chip race bib and off I went.

The Finger Lakes Trail runs along the Genessee River. There are about 8 inlets, which allow you to access the trail, and that is where the checkpoints were stationed. Those inlets were super muddy. Deep, wet mud gardens… I was tired of running in mud. Luckily the actual trail was in perfect condition.

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Stopping at checkpoint 6…

I felt pretty good during the run, I guess. It was definitely hilly and technical… lots of roots and some rocks. I cannot even tell you how many stream crossing I ran over. I remember a couple of times where I had to jump into the stream since the ground was eroded and there was no step. Also, a few places included a decent climb after crossing into the ravine in order to get back on the trail. The entire first leg, which was 6.5 miles, was pretty much up and down over and over and over again. There was no room for getting into a groove… no constant pace. My shins cramped a couple of times, probably due to all that constant up and down.

Checkpoints 4 and 5 were closed to spectators, so I finally saw Joel and Julia at checkpoint 6, which was at the end of my first leg. It was nice to see them! Joel was able to give me some Skratch Labs and a couple of gels. I told him that it was really hard.

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The last leg, which was 4.4 miles, was not as technical and was flatter. I feel like that was even worse than the first. It seemed to take forever. I was tired by that point and I just wanted to be done. And finally there was a road (on a hill of course, since all the finishes for all events have to end on a hill!!) and I heard Julia cheering for me. I was so happy to hear her voice. As I was heading towards the finish line, I saw her standing on the side. I yelled asking if she was going to run with me and she said yes. So that is what we did… we ran together to the finish line. That was the best part of this entire race!!

So I was not really done yet. The 2 legs that I ran equaled to about 11 miles and my goal was to run 13.1. So yes, I went back to run an additional 2.1 miles. That was the hardest 2.1 miles that I have ever run!! It seemed worse than the 11 miles that I just did. Joel told me about this other trail that was nearby, so I decided to run there instead of on the race trail. As Beck was blasting in my year… “WOW!”I imitated it as I came to this vista. The sight blew me away and for a moment helped me think of something other than my remaining mileage. As I continued on, I came across two other vistas. Since the trail was short, I had to do a bunch of laps to reach the 2.1 miles. Not even the vistas inspired me anymore. As soon as my watched read 13.1, I stopped. I was so happy to be done with the entire thing.

Once the results were posted, I found out that our team placed 5 out of 12. SO proud of us!! This was a huge accomplishment for both of us!

Looking back, I do not think that I could have done anything much different. Not being congested would have been a big plus. It did not seem to bother me too much during the run… I think that the acetaminophen and saline spray helped. I did have to ask for a tissue at one of the checkpoints and it made it better from a breathing perspective. But it definitely affected me. As soon as I finished, I was SO tired! I am sure that the congestion/sickness was a big culprit. Also, later in the day and on Sunday, I was in so much pain. I could not breathe without my chest and upper back hurting. I have spent the last 5 evenings with a heating pad on my back, chest, and face. I also started to cough, which did not feel too good. The run really did a number on my lungs and body.

The terrain was not too surprising, since Joel warned me about it. But I guess that talking about it and actually experiencing it during a race is different. I trained on the Cerscent Trail, Whiting and Gosnell, Bay Park West, and Mendon Ponds, which all are pretty hilly trails. I think that was good from a training perspective.

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This says it all!!

From a nutrition perspective, I think that I managed well. I had 2 gels, a PBJ sandwich, a bunch of watermelon, and some pretzels. The watermelon tasted SO good! That was my favorite. I also drank close to 4 12 oz bottles of Skratch Labs/drink mix and some water from the aid stations/checkpoints.

The last thing that I want to mention is all the checkpoints. The 2 legs that I ran, which as I already mentioned was 11 miles, included a lot of checkpoints… 6 to be exact. I was required to run to all of them since each checkpoint had a timing mat that you had to cross over. Honestly that was too much!! Especially since a bunch were only after a mile or so. I feel like that made the run seem longer. I realize that I did not have to actually stop at all of them, but it was definitely an incentive. The volunteers were there for a reason and I felt that I had to use them. The worse part about it is that Joel’s portion was 15 miles and only had 2 checkpoints. I realize that this is due to the access points along the Finger Lakes Trail, but it seemed unfair to have 2 checkpoints for a 15 mile run and 6 checkpoints for an 11 mile run. They could definitely cut it in half or something like that.

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It has been 6 days since I completed the race and I am still recovering. My legs are completely fine and my chest no longer hurts, but I am still a little congested and coughing a little.

Now that this is done, I am looking forward to riding my bike a bunch! It has been too long!!

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Every February and March I think about visiting a maple tree farm. Then somehow I forget about it. Perhaps it is because usually February and March are super cold and I do not feel like being outside to check out the maple trees. Ha!

Vermont is always associated with maple syrup, but we have a lot of maple tree farms in New York too. There are a slew of them in the Finger Lakes. Just do a search on the New York State Maple Weekend’s website and you will be amazed. You do not have to drive too far to find a maple tree farm.

One of the most popular spots is probably Cartwright’s Maple Tree Inn. Every year the Inn serves a pancake breakfast with their new batch of maple syrup. I know folks who go there every year. The pancake part probably made them popular… who does not like pancakes with maple syrup? About 6 years ago, we decided to give them a try. The Inn is a drive, so when we visited it we bundled the trek with a hike through Letchworth State Park. Hiking through Letchworth in the winter is super pretty. I loved seeing the frozen water near the falls. Then after a 45 minute wait outside in the frigid cold but luckily sunny day, we made it in. The pancakes and the maple syrup were pretty good, but I was not sure if the long drive was worth it every year.

Last weekend was Maple Weekend in New York state. I decided to check out what farms are in the area so we can take Julia to learn how maple syrup is made. After searching on the New York State Maple Weekend’s website, I was surprised to find out how many farms are just in my area, let alone in the surrounding counties. I was super excited to find that there was a farm 5 minutes away from my house on Log Cabin Road.

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I actually had an idea that there was some kind of a maple tree farm around there. Whenever I ride my bike from home, I like to ride on Benson Road, which leads into Log Cabin. Benson Road is super pretty! It reminds me of the Adirondacks… super wooded and the trees’ canopies form an umbrella over the road. Towards the end of Benson right before Log Cabin there is always a little stand on the left side of the street with a maple syrup and honey sign. Since I was always on my bike, I never stopped, but I always told myself to go there with the car. But of course it always escaped my mind. There is another little stand on Willis Hill Road too, which I have never stopped there either since I am always on my bike when I pass by it.

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So last weekend we drove to the maple tree farm. We found out that the farm is called Kettle Ridge Farm and they make maple syrup, collect honey, sell eggs from their farm chickens, and are trying to grow shiitake mushrooms. How cool is that?!? The farm is family run by a father/son duo.

Julia loved learning how maple syrup is made. Eating a pancake with the maple syrup was even more exciting! And checking out the chickens was the highlight of her trip, especially since she was able to feed them. :)

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The tour of course included tasting the maple syrup. It was definitely delicious! One of the surprising things that we found out during the tour was the fact that the color is based on the weather during the tapping season. It has nothing to do with the boiling process. Apparently, the color of their maple syrup this year was light, then it got darker, and then it got light again. Interesting!!

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Maple syrup color ranges…

This morning I decided to make pancakes in order to taste test my usual maple syrup, Wegmans Organic Maple Syrup, with our new found maple syrup. Kettle Ridge Farm’s maple syrup was a clear winner. The maple syrup is more complex and flavorful.

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I am very excited that I found the farm. Who would have thought that I can find delicious maple syrup that is made 5 minutes from the house! Love it!

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Yes, I know what you are saying… finally, a post about hiking! I am well aware of the fact that I have been slacking in the hiking department. I blame cycling for this! Plus, it has been winter here for the past 4 months. :) However, since it is still a bit too cold for cycling and the snow has finally melted away, a hike seemed like a perfect thing to do on a beautiful, sunny Sunday morning.

A few weeks ago, my friend Kristin mentioned that she and our friend Marc talked about going for a hike in Letchworth State Park and then going to Cartwright’s Maple Tree Inn for all you can eat pancakes. I was sold! I am not a huge fan of pancakes, but why on earth would anyone pass up the opportunity to have fresh maple syrup? Beats me!! Plus, I have been wanting to check out the Inn for a while, so I was excited to go.

Letchworth was really beautiful! I have actually never been there during spring. I really loved the bare trees and the shadows that the sunrays painted on them. The waterfalls were amazing too! I have never seen so much water gushing out. It makes perfect sense, since I have only been there in the summer when the water levels are lower, which yields tamer waterfalls.

Another amazing sight were the ice walls. I have never seen them close up. The best ones were near the popular Lower Falls bridge.

After about 2 hours of hiking, we were ready for some pancakes! After a short drive to Cartwright’s Maple Tree Inn, we were in line waiting to get in. Yes, there was a line to get in… this place is very popular! Fortunate for us, the line moved fairly quickly (we waited for ½ an hour), since by that point we were super hungry and a bit cold. (I cannot imagine waiting in line in the middle of the winter. Brr!!)

While we were waiting for our food, we decided to sample some maple syrup. Why spoil it with pancakes when you can taste it by the spoonful? YUM!!

Apparently the maple syrup is made in the restaurant’s basement, which is not a very large area. I do not know much about the process, but it seemed amazing to me that they can produce so much maple syrup in such a small area. Perhaps they have another facility nearby.

All of us ordered pancakes (of course) and some kind of a combination of eggs, sausages, and ham. The pancakes were good. They were made with buckwheat so they had a slight nutty flavor. As I mentioned before, I am not a huge fan, but they were pretty tasty, especially drizzled with the maple syrup. The sausages were good too. Breakfast sausages can be pretty rich and greasy, but these were not like that at all. Also, apparently the sausages are made only a few miles away from the Inn. I love it! Local business supporting each other!

The outing was fun! I am not sure that I would make the drive very frequently though. It is a far drive for pancakes and maple syrup. But I perhaps could be persuaded if a hike or a ride around the area is involved. HA!

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