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Posts Tagged ‘trail race’

Last year I came across this really cool photo (7th in the gallery) of a person running on a trail in the middle of these super tall trees. The photo won a contest, which did not surprise me. “Whoa… that is so pretty!! I want to run there!”, I said to myself. I knew that the trail was local, but I had no idea where it was. I asked one of my running friends, but he was not helpful.

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This past winter, I decided to check out the cross country skiing trails at Cumming Nature Center. I have not been there in a super long time… in fact, the only thing that I remember about it was the one time when Joel and I were riding in the area and somehow we got lost and ended up at the Center. We went inside to ask for directions (it was pre-smart phones) and the woman at the desk looked worried, a bit more than we were, since we were way off course. We did find our way back to the car… with a few more miles than we intended.

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As I was making my way to the main trail, I was in awe… it was the trail with the super tall trees! The skiing was fantastic! I loved the woodsy trails and views. I ended up going back two more times.

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While chatting with the director, he mentioned that they were planning a trail race and festival in June. I was super excited since I loved cross country skiing there. I signed up when the registration opened.

I kept watching the forecast all week prior to the race day. It was a super hot week… in the upper 80s at times. A chance of thunderstorms kept popping up and going away for race day. The chance of rain went away, which was great. But the temperature dropped into the upper 50s, which was a bummer since it was so much warmer the days leading up to the race. My legs do better in warmer temperatures.

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My friend Sara ran the race too… it was her first trail race!

During the pre-race meeting, we were told that it down poured pretty much all night and that the trails were muddy. I was not too happy about that… I do not like running in deep mud. A few people were super excited… I do not understand the attraction. Why do folks like running in deep mud so much?!? It ruins the trail, you can fall in it, you are covered in mud, and your shoes and socks are super drenched in mud. I do not get it!!

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I have learned to start a race in the front in order not to get stuck in a bottleneck. As soon as we were told to go, I went. The run was ok. The trails were not my favorite, I must admit… 90% of the race was in a deep mud that was covered with tall grass, which made it difficult to see where your foot was landing. We also ran up this hill that seemed never ending and we also bushwhacked through the woods, which was a nice change. Unfortunately, the constant foot changes ended up bothering my knee.

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I was pretty much on my own for the majority of the race. Around mile 4, a woman passed me. She looked comfortable and strong. I was a little bummed since she was the first female to pass.

Since my knee was bothering me, I slowed down and even stopped at times. I tried to stretch and massage the muscles around the knee. Then another woman passed me. I was even more bummed! I was so upset at my knee. I tried to stay with her but she was going too fast and my knee was screaming at me. “Grr… it is what it is.” I thought. I just kept running and walking at times. Finally, the terrain did change a bit so my knee was not bothering me as much. Then another woman came behind me. I knew her from my yoga class, so we started chatting about the race and we shared the same feeling… the terrain was not a favorite.

I really did not want her to pass me too. I knew that I was going to be in 4th place if she did. So I took off. I had no clue where I was pretty much the entire race, but I ran over a bridge and it finally looked familiar. I realized that I was not too far from the finish. Then I found myself among the super tall trees. I also saw Joel and Julia towards the end of the stretch cheering for me. I was so happy to see them! As I ran past them, Julia shouted “Mommy you are the third female to finish!”. “Hooray!”, I responded.

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Photo courtesy of Ironwood Adventure Works.

I did it! I finished 3rd overall in the female group, which included 33 women. I also placed 12th overall out of 51 runners. I ended up with 6.1 miles with a 11:37 average pace. I have been running that pace for 4 miles, trying not to overwork my knee too much, so I was happy to see that I was able to sustain that, despite the rough terrain and longer miles. I was super proud of myself!

The race also included a small festival among the tall trees, which was great! It included 4 breweries, a kombucha place, a juice place, and a food place. Julia played with lots of kids and then hung out at a table where she learned how to make hops DNA. She had a super fun time!

Joel and I and a couple of friends had some super good food and a bunch of beer. A fantastic way to finish a race!

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On Sunday, all three of us ran in the Medved Madness Trail Race… Joel and I, along with our friend Marc, ran it as a relay team (My So Called Legs… of course!) and Julia ran the kid race.

As the race was nearing, I kept watching the forecast. The weather for this race has not been that good to us over the past two years, especially last year. Rain and snow greeted me during my leg. I was also training for a half marathon, so I ended up running a little over 9 miles in that miserable weather (read all about it). I was really hoping for something nicer this year. The weather Gods finally took some pity on us and the weather was fantastic!!

Marc started the race for us. He really wanted to run the first leg, since he has not done that leg before and he also wanted to experience a mass start. He liked the rush of being in the pack.

I ran next. I could not remember the exact route for this leg, but I really enjoyed it. I love running in pine forests and I ended up spending a bunch of time in it. The route also went through a grassy field, but it was not too bad. Also, my leg was not very muddy at all, which I was happy about! Ha! I was a little worried about my knee though… I rode my bike on the Wednesday prior to the race and it was kind of bothering me… I had a burning sensation when pedaling hard or while I was pedaling standing up. But it ended up being ok for the race. I tried not to go too hard. I ended up with a 10:48 avg pace for the 4.25 mile route, so I was happy with it!

Joel’s run was amazing!! The kid race was at 10:45 of that morning, so we were unsure if Joel would finish before that. My friend Jess and I joked that we should tell Dan, who is her boyfriend and the organizer of the kid race, to stall the start until Joel finished. The time was getting closer, but all of a sudden I noticed Joel running towards the finish line with 10 minutes to spare! He ran the leg, which was the longest at 5.46 miles, at a 9:07 avg pace. Incredible!!!

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Julia was super excited to run the kid race. She was even more excited that she had an official race bib! The kid race was well attended too… last I heard was that 34 kids signed up. That’s amazing!!

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As soon as Dan yelled “Go!”, they were off. Julia went full force for a while. I decided to run along so I can capture some photos. Not far after the start, I could see that she was slowing down and that she kept rubbing her left side. She made the rookie mistake and went off too hard… she got a cramp. I kept encouraging her to keep going, but then she got upset. I grabbed her hand and reassured her that it was ok and that we can just walk for a bit. And then the mud section came. It was chaos… the kids did not really want to go through all that mud… neither did I, again! We made it through the section and I can tell that she was feeling better. We passed this little girl who was crying uncontrollably since she was full of mud and lost her shoe in the mud deepness. I felt super bad. I saw Joel cheering Julia on so I told him to keep cheering for her and that I was going to help the little girl.

I went to her and tried to calm her down. I grabbed her hand and we walked together the rest of the way. I told her that many of us ran through that mud too and some even lost their shoes. I am not sure that it made her feel any better since she could not stop crying. As we got closer to the finish, her dad met us and he thanked me for helping her.

I ended up not seeing Julia finish her race, but I felt better that the little girl was not alone in distress. After our amazing feast of chicken BBQ, pasta, coleslaw, salad, rolls, and beer (yes, we even got some free beer from The Lost Borough!!), I did capture a photo of Julia at the finish line.

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Both Joel and I told her that she did such a great job. She disagreed saying that she got a cramp. Joel explained to her the mistake that all runners make where they start off too hard and then they cramp or bonk. I think that she got it. We further told her that the most important part was that she had a good time and that she finished. Because is that not the reason why we run… to have some fun in the woods?!?

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Enjoying her prize… an ice cream sandwich!

Thank you Medved for once again putting on a great race and providing us with a delicious feast!!

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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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