Hating Rochester From Behind The Picket Fence



I love Rochester more every day. The summer sun brings a glow about this city and all that’s going on that I am more and more addicted toall the time. Yes, there’s plenty we have to roll up our sleeves and accomplish, but we have something very very good here.

There isone thing, however, I’m a little tired of, somethingI would like to address. The other day I made the mistake (like always) of viewing the comments following a Facebook post about a new and positive project in the city. Person after person slammed the city and slammed the initiative… “a waste of taxpayer money,” “I don’t even go downtown so I’m not paying for it” and my personal favorite “it’s the Fast Ferry all over again.”

Sidebar. The Fast Ferry was a disaster, but for God’s sake stop negatively comparing EVERYTHING in Rochester to the stupid boat.

OK, deep…

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Cayuga Trails 50 Race (Support) Report


Non-important set-up

The details and set up of how I became involved in this race aren’t important. The fact that I was extremely excited for this event as it is in my old college stomping grounds and playgrounds surrounding Ithaca is not important. Neither is the fact that I had to pull out because of a stupid overuse injury sustained at the BPAC 6hr race. The fact that Ian Golden, the RD for the Cayuga Trails 50, was generous enough to defer my entry until next year with no questions after I cried “injury” to him is not important. Nor is the fact that I wanted to be a part of this inaugural event so badly that I begged him to use me in any way as a volunteer. Now that I got the non-important stuff out of the way I can move onto the the event itself…

More relatively unimportant set-up…Image

On Thursday, I took off work a little early and me and my wife hastily threw a bunch of clothes in bags, food in a cooler, some sleeping bags and our bikes into/onto the car and made the 2ish hour drive south to Ithaca and Robert Treman State Park. We left early enough to check into our cabin/campsite, run our bikes up to the cabin and then split to the Ithaca Commons and The Finger Lakes Running and Triathlon Company, owned by Ian, to catch the presser/panel of elites hosted by Meghan Hicks of irunfar.com. The elites at the panel consisted of Cassie Scallon (Lake Sonoma 50M winner, Ice Age Trail 50M winner) Ben Nephew (Repeated Escarpment Trail winner, FKTs on basically every known path in the Catskills, USATF Trail 100k team member), Matt Flaherty (Winner American River 50M, 4th place Ice Age 50M, 3rd UROC 100k, 51:11 10 mile PR) Rachel Nypaver (Virgil Crest 100M Winner), Yassine Diboun (Leona Divide 50k winner, 4th Place Waldo 100k) Sandi Nypaver (Mountain Masochist 50M winner, 3rd Ice Age 50M) and Sage Canaday (Winner Tarawera 100k, Lake Sonoma 50M (CR), Bandera 100k, CR White River 50M, 3rd Transvulcania, CR Mt Washington)  So basically, a bunch of hacks.

As a performer who has toured, performed with and opened for some of music’s greatest personalities I’m not one to get star struck, but being around these folks, known only by a handful of ultrageeks, left me with the schoolboy giddiness of meeting Farrah Fawcett (did I just date myself?).


Too embarrassed to ask questions at the panel like, “GUs, Blocks, or real food, how do you fuel during the race?” I waited until after to talk to Meghan about her Marathon De Sables win and ask Cassie if this race was a taper for WS 100. Satisfied with the answers Amy and I headed off for dinner and to move the rest of our stuff into our cabin, only to be surprised that the majority of those elites were staying in the cabins right next to us.


Friday morning, as the elites were preparing for a course preview run, I had a great conversation with Ben Nephew in the men’s bathroom of the campsite. We talked about East Coast vs West Coast and Colorado runners, about shoes and how no lugs nor rubber/traction pattern would grip wet slick rock, about his numerous wins at Escarpment and how he is on the USATF Trail team for next month’s international race in Great Britain and how little it means because the USATF is providing no support. Basically the USATF got some of the best runners in the US to represent them and said, “We’re not paying you, but this gig will be great exposure for you.” Having been in the music industry as long as I have the translation is “We know you love what you do, so regardless of all the time, effort, preparation and energy you put into this, we know we can use you for our own purposes and you’ll do it. Oh, you say you want to eat? Well maybe you should find some part time or full time employment to feed yourself and your family… I mean you only train between 30 – 50 hrs a week, right?”

Out of the elites at the gathering, I believe Sage Canaday is the only one making a “pure” living off of running. But even that is not an accurate statement. Sure, he has sponsors, but he also works for those sponsors. He spent the majority of his day Friday standing outside Ian’s store hocking Scott shoes. He is building his own company, VO2 max Productions, using social media and the web to garner advertising dollars. And, think about this, the payday for the winner of this race is $2,500, one of the highest purses in trail running in the US. The race/recovery cycle does not allow runners to race at a winning level every weekend, so he probably could only manage one win a month (which I believe is close to his average over the past four months). Could you live on $2,500 a month?

The other anecdote I leaned was Matt Flaherty graduated from law school in 2010, worked for two years at a law firm before he decided to quit in order to run full time. He got a sponsorship and joined team Soloman. The day he quit is lawyer gig he got injured during a bike commute and was laid up for a year. To make ends meet, he hocks shoes at Fleet Feet Chicago. This is what you can look forward to if you run a slow 10 miler at 51:11.

But I digress. The conversation with Ben was great because the school boy giddiness started wearing off once I realized that these guys and gals were just people. People who ran really fast and had passion for their sport, but still they are just people.

I spent Friday hiking the first part of the course (3.1 miles with 1,100 ft of gain) and trying to ignore my ankle.





Technical Trail


My Bride


Aid Station #1


You can see a person on the trail to the right of the falls, that is part of the course running up Lucifer Falls.

We later went downtown to eat dinner at the Waffle Frolic where I dined on Buttermilk Waffles soaked in caramel topped with Purity Cookie Dough ice cream. I recommended this combination to Cassie Scallon who was at the restaurant at that time and received a look of pure horror from her, until I reminded her that I wasn’t running the next day.

I won’t bore you with the pre-race meeting that night other to say that Ian Golden is a class act. I caught up with some of the regional runners I know and caught up with Ian briefly. Ian finally determined what volunteer duty I could do. He said he was giving me an undisclosed amount of money and I was to be available by phone for all of the aid station captains and would run into town to resupply the stations if they got low on anything. Yep, we met the day before and he was giving me mondo bucks and trusting that I was a good steward of his money. I have tried to explain to non-runners what it is about the trail running community that is so magical and have failed to paint a comprehensive picture every time; but I believe this act by Ian encapsulates the sentiment I have tried to express for years.

Race Day (whoa, two-pages and I haven’t even gotten to the race, aren’t you glad I avoided the unimportant ’set up’ portion of this race report?):

I recruited Egils Rob to help with my duties (as the brakes in my car weren’t stellar and Amy actually wanted to go to the Ithaca Farm Market in the morning, a real delight). And we traversed over to the underpass aid station to drop off their supplies. This course is a spectators course. From the start/finish you can drive 3 miles up to the first aid station (3.1 miles into the course), then 3 miles to the underpass Station (another 3.7 miles), then less than a mile to the Buttermilk Falls/#TrailsRoc aid station (another 5.3 miles) then reverse the aid stations as the course is a modified out and back. There were crews supporting their runners on bikes (including the eventual 4th and 6th place women’s finishers). So Gil and I were ready for the day.



The rams horn was blown at 6:03 and the runners were off. (Pardon me if the splits aren’t accurate, I’m going off what I remember, also I was wasn’t following the women’s race as closely as the men’s as I could only be one place at a time) Denis Mikhalov took the early lead, putting 2 minutes on the field, this was shocking as he had put together a second place finish at MMT 100 two weeks earlier. In retrospect, I wonder if he was trying to get some of the in-race prize money as one of the awards was cash to the person who put three minutes on the field by AS 1. He was only a minute off.


Denis Mikhaylov


Yassine and Sam Jurek AS #1


Sandi Nypaver AS #1

Denis maintained his lead all the way to the Underpass with Matt, Sage, Jordan McDougal, Brian Rusiecki, and Yassine Diboun running as a pack in hot pursuit.


Jordan, Matt, Sage, & Yassine rounding the bend into Aid #2

At Buttermilk Sage had used the steepest uphill on the course to catch Denis and put 2 minutes on the field.



Sage Buttermilk/#TrailsRoc AS


Matt Flaherty running up Buttermilk Falls


Yassine Diboun


Ben Nephew

The return trip from Buttermilk Falls to the underpass is a little different than the trip there. When Denis made it to the bottom of the hill, he took a left instead of going straight and went back up the Lick Brook ascent and circled back to the Buttermilk aid station, ending his day as he got off course.


Sage back at underpass




Matt on Sage’s tail


Jordan breathing down Matt’s neck



Yassine in pursuit


Local Talent Cole Crosby making a statement


New Englander Sam Jurek sporting his Trail Animal Running Club (TARC) shirt

The race got very interesting as Matt Flaherty who lives and trains in the extreme elevation and hilliness of Chicago was nailing all of the descents. He was 1:30 back from Sage at the 5th Aid station and closed in to less than a minute at the turnaround (25 mi.) After 5,000+ feet of elevation gain and loss the two men with Jordan, Brian and Yassine in hot pursuit turned in 3:20ish marathons qualifying them for Boston (at my age) on this course!






By the time they returned back to the top of Lucifer Falls, Sage had put 2:30 on Matt and Matt had about 5 minutes on Jordan, Yassine was in fourth followed closely by Brian, while Ben and Sam Jurek were well behind the pace running together as a united New England front. The top two seemed to be battling it out while the rest of the field seemed set.



On the women’s side Cassie Scallon, took a spill and strained her hamstring early on. She completed 25 miles of the course but ended her day at the turn-around. I’m sending positive energy that she’s okay and it wasn’t serious as she is a pre-race favorite for WS 100 in three weeks (BTW Matt Flaherty is pacing her at WS). So, New England runner Kristina Folcik took the lead. In another amazing example of the humility and generosity of trail runners, Kristina quipped as she passed the 22 mile aid station in first place, “I’m first, but I’m not the fastest runner, Cassie’s injured!” Respect runs deep.  Another quick note on Kristina, five years ago she was chasing Aid Station cut-offs, and now she’s chasing podiums, check out her irunfar.com interview.

The women’s field was pretty much set at this point with Kristina holding a commanding lead over Sandi Nypaver,  and Amy Rusiecki leading Rochester, NY’s Jessica Snyder by a few minutes. The race for third was compelling.

At this time I was getting calls from aid stations that were out of coke, watermelon and salt tabs so Gil and I headed around the town of Ithaca to get supplies. The hardest thing in the world to find was salt tabs so we ended up at Ian’s store and updated the staff that he had manning the fort of the day’s proceedings.

As we were making the rounds, I kept running into my friend Dan Kress who was running that day. His day started rough with him battling migraines and by mile 22 he was disoriented and confused. I gave him some salt and pushed him in the right direction for the turn around and assured him he had enough time to complete the race. His 25 mile split was around 6 ½ hours, good enough to not be lapped by the leaders.

Gil and I dropped off supplies at the underpass and then went to Buttermilk to hang out for a while. In the time we were gone we learned that Matt was keeping Sage between 1 ½ minutes and 2 minutes in his sight, that Jordan had lost about 8 minutes on Matt and that Yassine fell off the pace and Brian was running 4th.

While hanging out at the Buttermilk Aid Station, Ian arrived and had Gil put a pie placard halfway up the Buttermilk Falls ascent. The runner who found this placard, picked it up and brought it to the next aid station won a free pie. Congratulations Amy Rusiecki! We watched the top 4 women come through this aid station and were pleasantly surprised to see Jessica 2 minutes back from Amy and Rochester Runner Elizabeth Matthews had moved up to 6th. Then I started getting texts from my wife at the finish line.

Not having seen the elite males for over a few hours I started getting updates. Sage won in  6:47:48. He put up 5 minutes on Matt at 6:52. Then the big surprise, Jordan came in under minute later, he had made up an 8 minute deficit in 20 miles. Matt later admitted to me that he saw Jordan at a stretch about five miles from the finish, “When you see someone gaining that fast, it’s almost impossible to hold them off, but I realized the difference was $1000 and I dug deep looking over my shoulder for the next five miles.” Brian dropped in 13 minutes later followed in five minutes by Yassine. Stout competition lead to a tight race, Sage took a header on a stream crossing and admitted he was beat up; Yassine looked strong midrace and I thought he would catch Jordan, but Jordan found something late in the race and shocked while Yassine faded out of the money to allow Brian to pick up some cash. That said, the Northeast represented: Sage (Cornell Alum), Jordan (Vermont), Brian (MA), and Yassine (TCCC Alum) in the top five.

On the women’s side, Kristina won, Sandi Nypaver (Sage’s GF) took second, Amy Rusiecki third (and a pie) and Jessica Snyder did not catch Amy in 4th. Overheard at the Awards Ceremony Amy quipped, “At one point I heard someone come up behind me, I glanced back and said ‘Jessica, what are you doing here?’ If people don’t know who she is, they better find out; this was her first 50 miler.” Elizabeth Matthews hung on to 6th overall.

After the Women came through, I had some calls and had to do another Coke run (those darned ultramarathoner’s and their coke addictions). When that was complete my duties were basically over so I met my wife at the Old Mill Aid Station at the top of the Enfield Gorge to watch the women leaders go by and hang out to watch some friends. When I got there, two hours after I pushed Dan Kress into the gorge to the turnaround, I saw Dan re-emerge from the gorge. Six miles in two hours and chasing cut-offs, it wasn’t looking good, but he kept going. I found out he dropped at the next aid station completing 50k on an extremely tough day for him.

We waited for hours at the aid station for my wife’s strength trainer Josh Rossi to come by. We started getting really worried, as 11 hours race time was approaching. I checked with Search and Rescue who were keeping tabs on the bib numbers and on who had dropped, to assure he was still in the race. The report was that he was in 86th place and still running. Then he emerged from the woods, put his arms up in a “I got this thing” expression and moved onto to the aid station and into the gorge.


Amy and I headed down to catch his finish at 11:35 (clock time and actual finish time were off by 3 minutes due to a late start), watch him jump into his girlfriend’s arms and then collapse at the finish line.


This hit me hard, I remembered my first 50M finish, the emotion, the overwhelming realization of what is possible when you realize that the only limits you have are self-imposed. I was happy for him but selfishly upset for me not being able to run. Thankfully it was a momentary feeling, and Amy and I went to eat.

The awards ceremony was fantastic and I can’t say enough about the race director Ian Golden. To be a part of this event was extremely important to me. To be of service to the runners and understand what they are going through makes me feel qualified to support them. To witness ordinary people do extraordinary things is inspirational. To share this experience with my wife made it even better. As I was humbled by my first 50 mile finish, by my first 100 DNF, and subsequently my first 100 mile finish, I am humbled by this event as well. It is really too hard to put into words, but for those who understand, no explanation is necessary -for those who don’t, no explanation will suffice.

“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” ― John Muir

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That moment

New Year’s Day 7.5 mile “Race” Report

A 7.5 mile foot race sponsored by the Greater Rochester Track Club is a New Year’s Day tradition in Rochester. 376 individuals, regardless of how late they stayed up the night before, braved below 25 degree and snowy weather to finish this “race”. Yes, “race” is in quotes because while some folks actually do race, I’m too slow to ever consider myself as “racing”.


So the race started at 10:00, I got up at 7:30 and struggled to put running clothes on. The weather looked cold and my iPad stated that temps at race time were going to be 21 degrees and snowing. I was sore from Pilates yesterday morning and eating junk all night. I just didn’t want to go.

Coffee consumption commenced and I took some time to surf the interwebs. Finally I browsed “trail- running” in my WordPress reader and found a race report on the Rodeo Valley 50k, and a nice blog about a 13-mile training run. These were pretty inspiring and made me want to get out there, until I looked out the window again at the coooold snow on my porch.

My wife came downstairs and could see that I was off. I gave her every excuse as to why I didn’t want to go, including the simple statement, “I just don’t want to.” What was the deciding factor to get me in my car to make the 5 minute drive to the start line? Well, I am cheap, and I already paid for this “race”, and dammit if I was not going get my money’s worth.  (BTW this “race” cost me $2 per mile. I will always give you cost per mile for any event I do, because I am cheap).

Parking sucked, the lot wasn’t plowed well, runners were fighting for spots so they could get their bibs and chips in time for the start, it was brutal. Thankfully I trusted my Forester to get me in and out of a deeper snowed-in spot (not sure how the Civic next to me fared after the race). Once parked, I got a half mile warm-up to the registration cabin to get my bib and chip and then another half mile warm-up back to the car to make “race” clothing decisions.

A note about clothing choices…

Hockey Bag

I am fond of saying, “there is no inclement weather, only poor clothing choices,” I am lying when I say this because of course there is inclement weather, anything that is not  68 degrees and slightly overcast is inclement. So the issue always becomes, what’s too much and what’s too little. In the summer it’s easy, you are going to be hot so shorts and a tech-shirt plus a hat if it’s sunny, bandanna if it’s not rule the day. 25 degrees with snow and possible changing wind conditions is more difficult to judge. My plan was a short-sleeved tech shirt with a Mountain Gear hooded liner with hat and gloves. I determined that would be too cold so changed by adding a heavy RoadWear jacket. Yeah, that was too hot, fortunately I packed a Saucony long-sleeved collared pullover and put that under the Mountain Gear liner and dropped the RoadWear jacket. Running tights were already on and I was not going through the a-ache to change them. But the final combo seemed just right. My biggest issues with all of this are the following: First, my running bag should not have to be larger and more packed than my son’s hockey bag. Secondly, changing in a Forester sucks, but not as bad as changing outside the Forester in 25 degree weather.

The Start


At the start line, 376 people crowded together. This  always reminds me of the mosh-pits of my youth. Although the clothing choices were bright yellow and green reflective jackets instead of Black Flag and Exploited T’s, most participants were waiting to take their first shower of the year after the race was over, so the crowding and the smell was similar (particularly because some folks clearly stayed up late the night before). Everybody was talking and whatnot so listening for the start commands was not possible. But I took it all in stride (this time) because I was content thinking that starting in the mob (yes 400 people is mob by my race standards) would keep my pace slow and would help me resist the urge to go out too fast like I always do. MISSION NOT ACCOMPLISHED. Mile one was a 7:54, I was actually anticipating 8:30s for the run, oh well, I can throw this race in the trash. (more on numbers in a later post). So I tried to settle in, making this my “strength-running” workout, I shortened my stride and increased turnover on the uphills, used gravity on the downhills, and recovered on the flats. (This was a hilly course). I tried to conserve energy but this other thing got in the way. I became obsessed with the mile markers and times (numbers). All of the “official” course markers were between .05 and.12 miles early, thus splits were being called out that made me feel really fast. My GPS was recording that I was on pace for an 8min/mile average race. Numbers, distance, pace, time, how to work the hills to maintain the pace, was I going to bonk because I didn’t fuel before the race….THIS IS NOT WHY I RUN! so why does it happen to me? Road races, ugh!


Mendon Ponds Snow

Just after the mile 4 marker, which was one-tenth of a mile early, there was a long hill with a slight incline. I somehow managed to settle into a nice pace using two women ahead of me (one with long silver hair, the other wearing a ballerina tutu) as my guides. The wind seemed to stop. The sun was attempting to peek through the clouds, and a gentle snowfall commenced. It was beautiful. For that moment, for that half mile, it all became worth it. All was right with the world. I was not too cold, nor too hot, I was at a comfortable, yet respectable pace, the surrounding Mendon Ponds Park scenery was gorgeous, and I was over half-way done with the event. THIS IS WHY I RUN. Sometimes it takes a while for the physical rhythm, my “physiological mantra” to kick in and remove all of the other stuff. At that moment the GPS did not matter, the course markings did not matter, wondering where Andy the guy who always beats me did not matter; I was at peace. When you have 4 kids, an ex-wife, a job that is in jeopardy every time a grant runs up, student loans, etc., peace is a needed commodity.


The peace was short lived as a left turn on Pittsford-Mendon Center Rd. brought colder temps a headwind, plus a brutal uphill after a substantial downhill, but the residual effects of the peaceful moment just propelled me to the finish. I caught those two ladies who were pacing me in the last mile and when I saw the clock had already struck 1 hour before I finished (I secretly wanted to break an hour) I was okay with it. It was a good run and a great way to start the New Year.

Post Race Musing

Every “race” brings its moment, sometimes it’s a social companionship moment, sometimes it’s overcoming a personal challenge, sometimes it’s a view, sometimes it’s a running insight that hits you, and sometimes it’s another insight unrelated to running. It’s that moment, always a moment of clarity, in which the world seems right and my place in it seems right that keeps me coming back.

Stats: (click on “Stats” for my Garmin read)

7.55 miles

1:00:27 (8min/mi)

102 place (out of 376, in the top third)

84th male (out of 213, not top third)

10th in age group (out of 19; mid pack)

More importantly, that guy Andy, my nemesis, beat me by 3 whole minutes (I knew he had a good run when he was already cooling down as I was 100 yards from the finish line.)

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The “plan”

11 miles in the snow today!

This is the tentative training schedule. I say tentative because I am fairly undisciplined, and I also like trying new things. This plan is based off one I found online (dirtyrunning) that appealed to me. First because I tried the high mileage thing two years ago and burned out in September and this plan is relatively low mileage plan. Second, I found that a decade ago, if I concentrated on my long weekend runs and only got out once or twice during the week I had a bit of success, so I’m trying to regain the conditioning minus the burnout.

Tentative is the catchword here, not to give me an out on days I don’t want to run, but to give me options to do other things and not be a slave to training. The fact that I like looking for obscure fun trail races which cannot necessarily be scheduled according to my mileage “needs” and the need to be flexible for other events, sports, and kids requires my schedule to be tentative. Understand that I do this for fun; not for speed, not for glory, not for prizes. So here are the basics:

Mondays are core days. My sister teaches a Pilates class Mondays and Fridays at the YMCA directly across the street from where I work. Her classes are brutal and I have never enjoyed them (the two I went to). But, as I get older, I find that I’m losing a bit of core strength that is essential for negotiating technical single track, particularly technical downhills which I pride myself on being somewhat of an expert at doing. So I’m “committing” to once a week core building.

Wednesdays are the “Strength” running workouts. These are supposed to be 45 minutes to one hour runs pushing the uphills, or fartleks, or tempo runs. I know I said I’m not about speed, glory, or prizes, but these runs are essential for strength in the long run. Even if I’m not running an uphill 30 or 40 miles into a 50 miler, I still need the strength to summit. I also understand that running uphills uses different muscles than power-walking uphills, which is my strategy in ultra events, but I have a plan to build those muscles as well. The object for these “Strength” runs is to focus on the muscle groups the weekend long runs, and recovery runs don’t address; it is all a part of the balanced approach to ultras.

This is where the tentativeness of this schedule comes into play. Fleet Feet / Yellowjacket Racing in Rochester hosts a “SnowCheap” race series. These are six runs on Wednesday nights between 3 – 4 miles, on snowshoes. Depending on whether or not I enjoy the snowshoe race (I have zero experience in snowshoes) this upcoming Saturday and whether or not my kids’ schedules comply, I may find myself entering a few of these races and pushing hard. The key is getting out and working hard.

Weekends are dedicated to time on the feet. Primarily, the long run is done on Saturdays with a recovery run on Sundays. There are a couple of back to back long runs within the schedule and a few 50k/6hr organized events thrown in for “fun”. Even though the word ‘Easy’ follows many of the distance or time plans, ‘easy’ is relative. The intention here is to run slow; to simulate a 50 mile race in pace and strategy. This means going out slooooow, power-walking the hills, recovery on the flats, and gently pushing the downhills (really allowing gravity to do the work while concentrating on foot placement).

Note: there are a few ‘rest’ days on some of the weekends; they are either the day before or after an organized event. More than likely they will include a 2 mile slooooow jog just to keep loose and/or recover.

This leaves all of those 5 mile easy runs on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. These runs are ‘optional’ so long as activity happens on at least two of the three days. One of the other events that‘s been on my radar for the past two years is a triathlon but I can’t swim. Okay, I can dog paddle and thrash in the water and could probably do an Olympic distance, but would be too trashed to do the bike or run afterward. That said I might explore swim lessons at the YMCA on one of these ‘5 mile easy’ days, and when the weather gets warmer, hop on the bike on another one of these days.


Slow /recovery– 9-10 minute miles

Slooooow – 10 – 13 minute miles

Strength – tops out at 7:30 – 8 minute miles in fartlek or tempo runs.

This is it in grid form:

Click to see googledoc

Click to see googledoc

Next Up: Upstate NY, training in winter.

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The 50 Miler

Never do anything half-way; that has been how I approach many passions in my life, whether it’s music or running. The issue I have is not whether or not to throw myself into an event whole heartedly, it’s the discipline of preparing for it. Sure I’ll run that 50 miler, oh, you mean I should train for it?

A perfect example of this is two years ago I decided to run the Finger Lakes 50. I had signed up for it three months in advance and did very limited training. My training consisted of a couple of half-marathons and a couple of long training runs with the Oven Door Runners, ODR. On 4th of July weekend my wife, Amy, and I headed down to the Finger Lakes National Forest at 3 AM to make the 6 AM start. The plan was that Amy would go to town, Ithaca NY, for shopping and relaxing, I would run 50 miles, anticipating an 11.5 hour finish and call Amy to let her know to pick me up. Two problems occurred. First I was in no shape to run 50 miles and when I finished 50k in 7:18 (12 minutes before the cut-off for the 50 miler) I knew my day was done and dropped. Second, there is no cell phone reception in the Forest. Oh well, it was a nice long day.

A decade ago I was running strong, completing many ultras including: Bull Run Run in 2001, and 2002 both less than 11 hours. I won the KISS 50 miler (although I should mention that Monica Schultz’ 50 mile split on her way to a 100 mile finish, was two minutes ahead of my 50 mile finish. I DNF’d at 87 miles at MMT and finished 10th at Haliburton 100. Then I blew out my Achilles tendon at a 12 hour asphalt race (completing over 100k), and have struggled ever since to be consistent in training.

Massanutten Visitor

For the past ten years I have had this nagging annoyance in the back of my mind, ‘I have unfinished business at Massanutten’. At MMT 100, if you make it past 50 miles (Bird Knob) but DNF you become an ‘Official Visitor’ and are given a piece of the trail stating as much. You go on the VHTRC rolls until you come back and finish. The big annoyance of all of this is that MMT is the only 100 mile qualifier for Hardrock 100 in the east. I know I will never qualify for Boston, but Hardrock is a possibility. So this year I decided to see if I could get myself back to MMT shape in the next few years (2014?).

Did I mention I don’t do anything half way? I decided my start to this adventure would be to commit to at least two 50 milers. The first being the inaugural Cayuga Trails 50 on June 8th, followed in 4 weeks by the Finger Lakes Fifties. On the way there I am considering the Cast a Shadow 6 hr Snowshow race, the BPAC 6 hour, and the Highland Forest 1-2-3. Following the Finger Lakes Fifties is the possibility of the Can Lake 50, and Virgil Crest 50, or 100, closing the season with the Mendon Trail Runs (50k) which is almost literally in my back yard.

My intention with this blog is to post weekly updates regarding training, to help me stay consistent, and to get feedback from other runners.

Coming up:

The tentative training schedule

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