Archive | June, 2017

Many on the Genny–RD Perspective

28 Jun

I could write a small novel about the work that went into this race, but no one wants to read that.  While we’ve been RD-ing for 5 years, this race was the biggest race we’ve ever taken on…by about 26 miles.  No loops meant way more marking than ever before, ultra meant much bigger aid stations than ever before, and the school year ending exactly at the same time as race week didn’t help either.  To say there was stress going into this race is an understatement.


There was blood, sweat and tears (literally) put into this race.  For years.  We have been dreaming and scheming to try to make the most beautiful, most sensible, most challenging and most scenic course that we could make.  Trying to find ways to include as much of the beautiful and varied trails as we could, from the incredible single track of trail 20, to the wide grassy trails of 11 and 13, to the shale-filled climbs and descents of 15 and 13, to the ridgelines and overlooks of trail 1, to the gorgeous waterfalls of the FLT.  We had spent countless hours in the park, scouting it all out, debating where to put aid stations, thinking about what we would want to see as runners, meeting to get permission from all of the groups (the State Park, the police, the Army Corps of Engineers, the FLTC).  And when that much time and effort has gone into something, there’s obviously a lot of nerves that things won’t work out the way you have envisioned.  We had big hopes and dreams for this race.


Wednesday through Friday of race week are a blur to me.  We spent so many hours on the trails, purchasing all the food, packing everything up, marking course, and yes, even arguing, that I almost didn’t have time to be nervous.  Each night, we’d fall into bed and I’d sleep soundly until my cursed alarm.  Friday night we didn’t even get back to the finish line and our “home base” for the night until midnight.  After a brief 2 hour-ish nap, we were up and at ’em at 3. It was go time and there was no turning back.  I was worried people would get lost, worried animals would have gotten into our aid station supplies overnight, worried we had forgotten something, worried the shuttles would not show up…anything that might go wrong had me worried.


But at 6 AM, as Eric yelled go and runners took off, I felt a lot of the stress lift as I reasoned with my worried brain–people were out…they had maps…the course runs between the road and the river, so if anyone gets lost, it won’t be for long (haha)…most people carry their own stuff anyway…there are plenty of bathrooms along the way for the first 20 miles, so worst case scenario people could fill water there until we could get to a store and deliver bottles (if someone shot up our water jugs or stole them or some other crazy thing that my mind was trying to make me panic about) or food (if the animals had indeed managed to find a way into our stuff).


Race day is mostly a blur, too. As soon as runners had looped around the first 2 miles, I checked in with aid station 2, (Lisa had Aid 1 under control, I knew), found that food was ok, knew we were fine for at least the first half of the course for food and water, and headed around to finish marking the course–we had run out of time the night before.  I quickly ran/hiked trail 9, realized I should add the extra half mile and go check that the turn to the FLT was still marked and no one had touched anything, it was (of course it was), then backtracked to the car.  I spent a little time at the road crossing, hanging with my dad and brothers.  Seeing people running, smiling, high fiving me….I relaxed even more.  This was it.  The dream was happening.


By the time I had checked in with all the aid stations and made my way back around to the finish line, it was late…people had already finished…I still had a couple of errands to run to drop off additional supplies (water) for the aid stations.  But luckily we had the most incredible group of aid station-ers ever assembled.  Truly I never had to worry (or at least I shouldn’t have worried haha)–our cell reception on the first half of the course was spotty, but I knew my aid station captains and crew would handle any problems effectively.  The second half of the course required aid stations to haul supplies down horrible, mud-filled trails.  I got there, though, and they were so happy and full of energy and ready to go.  Some of them were out there for 9 hours on race day…others had set some things up the night before.  Not one of them looked annoyed or regretful of the job they had volunteered to do. They were amazing and absolutely instrumental to having a successful race.


I was so tired by dinnertime-ish.  I knew I should go back out to the aid stations to help out.  But I texted Jonathan (the only aid station still open) and he said it was all good there.  So I started to try cleaning up the finish line area (and even sat down for a minute or two) instead.


As I was cleaning things up, I looked around and advice we’d gotten at our wedding echoed in my head.  “The day is going to be crazy and busy and you won’t remember a lot of it.  So stop for a second.  Look around and take it all in.  Know that all these people are here because of you, to support you, to be with you.”  And I lost it.  I was crying and had to walk away to compose myself.  After that, every finisher…every smiling, cheering, happiness-filled finisher…had me choked up.  I could not believe this many people were here, loving the trails, loving the park, spending the day outside in the woods…because of us.  My heart was overflowing with gratitude and pride and happiness.


The rest of the afternoon and evening, I heard so many lovely compliments.  “I’d never seen that in the park and can’t wait to come back to explore.” “I’m not from here and I’ve never seen such a friendly group of people.  I can’t wait to bring friends back.”  “Your aid stations were the absolute best ever.”  “I had so much fun today.”  “This is one of my favorite races ever.” They went on and on.  Everywhere I looked, there were smiles and friends hanging out in the sunshine, eating pizza (so. much. pizza.) and drinking delicious home brew (thanks, Joe!).


When the last couple finishers made it across the line, I was so happy.  Until I realized how much work we still had to do.  We should’ve just planned to stay there, as the drive home that night was pretty sketchy…exhaustion was finally kicking in.  At 10, as we were getting ready to leave to go home, we remembered the stupid water drop coolers.  Josh and I drove over to grab them and the hike down was one of the most surreal.  I was so tired, stumbling around the trails to find the water coolers and drag them back up to the car.  When we finally made it home, I didn’t even say anything to Josh or Eric…I literally left everything in the car, climbed the stairs, put on a clean t-shirt and shorts and climbed into bed, completely unconcerned about my dirtiness…the sheets needed to be washed anyway.


There are not enough words to express to you all, the runners, their families and the volunteers, how thankful we are to have your support.  It’s still pretty surreal to think that this weekend happened.  Everyone all day kept thanking us, but the reality is that we owe you guys the thanks.  Without each and every one of you, this would just be Eric and I, sitting around a printed out map of Letchworth dreaming up a stupid race idea.  Without you guys signing on, trusting us to get it right, this wouldn’t have happened.  But somehow every time we scheme up something new, people sign on and get behind us, and that is the best gift anyone could ever give us.  So the thanks goes to all of  you.  You rock.  We love you.  We are humbled and so incredibly proud of everyone’s achievements.  And we can’t wait to see you all next year!



when life hands you flooding

11 Jun

Training this spring was going so well.  I was really happy with the way my running was progressing, both from a volume and a quality of runs standpoint.

March–173 miles.

April–201 miles.


May–70 miles.

Wait. What? Is that a typo?

May was a hot mess.  Partly because I jacked my calf up doing god knows what.  I was thinking it was just a result of too much mileage.

Except I’ve run this kind of mileage before without any issues.

Then I realized that right around the time my leg started hurting, we started sandbagging. Because when life hands you flooding, you sandbag, re-sandbag, and try to pump out water multiple times.  You don’t sleep or don’t sleep well, having nightmares of floods and sinkholes and crocodiles.

Yep.  Our dream house on the water has been a little bit of a nightmare the past 2 months or so…Lake Ontario is almost 3 feet higher than it normally is this time of year, which means our little pond is also up.  There’s a lot of debate right now about why that is, but at the end of the day, we had a late snowstorm and way above average rain fall (and the IJC has some new regulations that probably aren’t helping us, but are also probably not the actual cause for the flooding).

In any event, my training has been down.  I missed my two peak weeks for Cayuga and decided to pull myself out of it all together (as we watched weather reports that whole week leading up to the race, unsure if we could even go down to Ithaca at all).  I spent the day of the race alternating between being sad that I wasn’t out there, regretting my decision, but ultimately being at peace with it. It was the right choice.  I came home from Ithaca geared up from watching so many amazing people run well, and I used all that inspiration to re-make my Twisted Branch training plan…I looked at everything as though I’d been running 50 miles weeks for the past 2 months.  Or 40.  Or even 30.


But the reality is, my last 7 weeks of training have averaged out to   18.5 miles.  I didn’t know this until I just computed it.  That’s actually kind of embarrassing, not because there’s anything wrong with that mileage, but because I say that I am an ultrarunner.  WTAF.


Anyway, as with all lies we tell ourselves (like, “your training has not been that off” and “you will just pick up where you left off”), eventually you get slapped in the face with the truth.  And today was that day for me.


Today, Ellie wanted to see the front half of Many on the Genny.  Of course, Eric signed  me up as unofficial tour guide, even though she’s twice as fast as me.  I planned to do 20 miles.  Both of these things were silly, given my training the past almost 2 months.


And so I got slapped in the face around mile 10 (maybe before that).  Lack of training, lack of sleeping, stress…whatever…I was a mess.  It was not fair to Ellie to keep making her wait for me.  I made it to aid 2, hopped in the car, and felt good about my decision.  I did a couple more miles after that with her, but the reality is that anything more than 15 is a stretch right now, especially if it’s hilly (like Many) or hot (like today).


So…IDK where I go from here.  I need to rebuild my mileage and get myself back in shape.  I am pretty sure I don’t have time to properly train for Twisted.  It’s not really a race I want to go into severely undertrained or woefully out of shape.  I’d have a few weeks to get in some solid training, but that’s assuming that we don’t get hit with more flooding, which is really unlikely given the height of the water.  According to the Army Corps of Engineers website, between now and July 9, the water in Lake Ontario should go down 6 inches.  Which is a lot.  But I have no idea what will be enough and when we will be safe.  It honestly feels like never right now.  One of the neighbors said he heard we’d be out of the danger zone by December.  I am hoping that was just hyperbole.


The reality is that if/when I do Twisted, I want to run well.  I don’t want people to have to wait around for me, I don’t want to chase cut-off times…I have always said I wouldn’t step up in distance unless I knew I could handle it, and right now I haven’t been handling the training needed.  That’s the plain and simple truth of the matter.


In any event, right now I am kicking around seeing who (if anyone) needs a pacer for Twisted (assuming our house isn’t floating away) and taking the summer to get myself into shape.  I really want to do the Many course all the way, so I could hopefully be ready to do that at the end of the summer, then maybe just train really hard for Mendon.  That would possibly catapult me into training for Twisted 2018, which would put me in a good spot to hopefully do well.  And take a little pressure off me as we navigate through the rest of the summer and hopefully the end of the flooding.


So with that said:

  1. How many miles a week do you think are needed to run (well) a super challenging 100k?
  2. Is it wise to push my training for the next 8ish weeks (which would allow for a 2 week taper) and see what happens?
  3. Does anyone need a pacer (as long as you understand that if we are under threat of flood–which god I really hope by that point in the summer we’ll be in the clear–that we will be here trying to salvage things)?