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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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On a fine November day last year, Joel and I decided to sign up for the Sehgahunda Trail Marathon Relay. We ran it as a four person relay two years ago, which was fun, so we thought that it was a good idea to run it as a two person relay. Hmm…

The official training started in February. Luckily for me, Joel figured it all out. Run two short runs during the week and then a long run on the weekends. Seems easy enough. I quickly realized that running two days a week was not very feasible. Working full time and taking care of our daughter, the house, etc. kind of put a damper on my training plan. My weekday runs were 5 or 6 milers, so they worked well enough to run longer during the weekends. But once I hit the 9.5 mile mark, I also realized that I did have to run two days a week, otherwise I would not be able to start increasing my mileage without risking an injury. Luckily for us, my parents live in town so they have been very helpful with watching Julia for us so we can do this thing. I am super grateful for it! Even our neighbors helped us one weekend… so grateful!!

The 9.5 mile run was not too bad. On that run I surpassed my longest distance that I have ever ran since I started running about 5 years ago. Then two weekends ago, we ran 10.5 miles. “That was crazy!”, I thought. I felt super good and it gave me more confidence that I will be able to do this race.

Then, as I was running mile 10ish of my 11.5 mile training run on Sunday and Parachute Youth was blasting in my ear “Can’t Get Better Than This…“, I thought to myself… “Oh yes it can, actually!!”. At least I was in the woods and the song distracted me a bit and made me think of the mountain biking video where I discovered the song.

I remember after riding for a few years, a bunch of my friends were asking me why I was not racing. “You would do well!”, they said. My answer was always that cycling would become work. You have to ride a lot of hours to be able to have the stamina and fitness to be a racer. I ride because I love riding and because I love to explore the area on my bike. It is not my job… it is my hobby. The same goes for running. I love being in the woods and exploring our parks.

I recently read this article, which made me laugh but also resonated with me. It was called “I Hate Running” and the writer’s statement after finishing a 50 miler was on point. When someone congratulated him for finishing the race, his answer was something like “I just ran 750 miles… you just saw the last 50 miles!“. (Another great article to check out is “People Who Say That Running Is Fun Are Lying To You“.) Although my feat is not as great as his, this idea of running three times a week in order to complete a half marathon is kind of a chore. It has become work.

I am not sure why it feels this way. Perhaps all those years that I spent on the bike riding thousands of miles burned me out and this is starting to feel that way. Or perhaps the fact that I love to ride, run, hike, and other things makes me feel like I am stuck with this one thing. I guess that is the downside of having multiple hobbies. Ha!

Nevertheless, I am glad that I signed up for this race. I never in a million years would have thought that I would be able to run 10 miles, 11 miles, or even a half marathon. It is a good challenge and I do not want to stop. The race is on May 20th, so I am almost there. I guess that this race also made me realize that long distance running is not for me and that I am happier if I am able to do everything that I love instead of only one single activity.

As I write this, the weather forecast is calling for rain for tonight, on Thursday, and on Sunday. Another reason not to sign up for a race in Spring. Hooray for training!

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I ran the Ready Set Glow trail race on Saturday. I was pretty excited to run it. I mean.. does it not sound fun to run in the woods at night with glow sticks?

I planned to run it last year too, but I waited too long to sign up and it filled up. I was so bummed! So I added the date the registration opened on my calendar and I signed up super early. Joel signed up for it too.

We invested in a bunch of glow sticks so we were set. I was not sure what to expect. I have never run in the dark before. Also, the race was at Dryer Road Park, which has a bunch of super twisty trail sections with lots of switchbacks. I ran in there a bunch of times and I always found myself questioning where I was… and that was during the day. It was going to be interesting.

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Since it was a mass start, we decided to start towards the front to avoid the inevitable bottleneck. We started fast. Joel started even faster… I lost him as soon as we entered the woods. Our friend Jeff stuck with me for a bit, but then he took off too. There were a bunch of runners behind me so I was not left alone. Everything was going fine until I came to a spot where the trail split into two directions. I stopped. I did not see a race marker. I was not sure which was the correct way. But then the girl behind me so confidently took the trail that veered left. So we all followed. As I was running, I noticed that there were no trail makers on the trail. A few others made the same comment. But we kept going. I was on the fence about it, but I decided not to turn around. Serves me right!

The rest of the group split up once again and I found myself running alone. I must admit that I was a little uneasy being out there alone in the woods at night… I run alone all the time and I have never felt this way before. The fact that it was dark was different. I did hear and see other runners in the distance, but my uneasiness did not fade. I also felt like I was just going in circles since the terrain looked so similar in a bunch of places.

Then all of a sudden I found myself in the field near the finish line. “How can that be??”, I thought to myself. My watch showed not even 4 miles… the race was supposed to be close to 5 miles. There were two people standing in the field and they told me that a few others finished early too.

I was so upset! I decided to go back into the woods. I ran for a bit but then decided that it was pointless. I had no idea where I was. I did not have a map to check. It was dark. I was alone.

I ended up with 4 miles. As I crossed the finish line, I told the folks who organized the race that I got lost and off the course and that I only ran 4 miles. I was so disappointed!!

Joel and Jeff finished about 10 minutes after I did. They were upset too… apparently they also got lost. They ended up with 5.5 miles. At least they did not finish early! As more runners finished, getting lost was the conversation of the night and everyone shared their experiences. So at least I was not the only one, but I still did not feel any better about it.

Then the results got posted, which made me feel even worse. I was placed with a “U”. What the heck is a “U”?!?! Apparently it means unofficial result. Blah!

I guess that I should not care too much about it, but I do not run many races, so when I do, I try my hardest. I guess that I do have a little competitive spirit in me. Ha! And I have learned my lesson… I will never follow anyone without double checking the trail markers. I am not sure if I will run this race again in the future. If I do, I will have to make sure that I will have a running partner.

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The Medved Madness trail race took place a few weeks ago… on May 1st to be exact. I am always weary about signing up for anything that takes place outside… I do not like to do anything outside if it rains.

Before I started running, I would always sign up for the Highlander Cycle Tour, which in the past took place in September. September in Rochester can be super hot, super cold, super sunny, or super rainy. In fact, the first year that I rode it, it was all those throughout the ride. It was also my first century and I kept thinking to myself what was I doing out there riding for 100 miles in the cold/cloudy, then sunny, then rainy, then cold, then sunny/warmer day. I think that out of the 6 years that I rode it, only 2 or 3 times was nice out.

In the days leading up to the Medved Madness run the weather was looking good. No rain but a bit chilly. Then of course, with my luck and the stupid Rochester weather, it changed to rain. Bah! “Why can it just be nice for once!”, I complained to Joel. I ran the run as a relay… Joel ran the first leg, our friend Marc ran the second leg, and I ran the last leg. The run was actually super fun! And the weather ended up not being too bad. It was just a bit drizzly at times and not too cold. Also, with my luck, I ended up running through the exact same mud gardens and hill as in the Dirt Cheap race, since the race was also in Mendon Ponds Park. Super lucky! Ha!

But the most exciting part of the race was the kid race. When we first told Julia about our race, she enthusiastically told us that she wanted to run in the race too. Of course we said yes! So during the leading months, weeks, and days, she trained for the race too. Joel set up courses for her… around the perimeter of our house, around the trees in our front yard. She was super excited!

As we were walking towards the event tent, Julia told me that this year she wanted to run it on her own. Last year she ran the race too, but we ran together and I held her hand the entire way. She was only 2 1/2, so I was impressed that she even wanted to run it at all. She did great last year too. She also told a few of her friends that she was going to run in the rain. Although, as we were walking towards the race tent, she mentioned that she no longer wanted to run in the rain. I reassured her that it was not a big deal and that all of us were going to run too. I am glad that she changed her mind.

As the kids took off and she ran past me, I could tell that she was super excited. I ended up running behind her to cheer for her and to make sure that she ran the course. She had the largest smile on her face the entire time. As I was checking out the photos that Joel and Marc took, I noticed that she also had an intense and focused look on her face at times. She seemed so determined to have a good run.

And she did! She did SO awesome! We are super proud of her. I think that she is proud too… she talked about it for a few days after the race. It was so fun to watch her race and I loved her excitement and enthusiasm. I hope that we can find some more races for her soon.

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She did it!! Good job Julia!!

Lastly, I wanted to mention the après run party. This was by far the best running event that I have ever attended. The food was fantastic! We are super lucky to have Medved in our community. They did a fantastic job with the entire event!

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