Sunday, June 28, 2009

Forge The Gorgeous

As I tapered down a little this week I made a spontaneous decision to head out to a trail race that I've never run before held in
Fillmore Glen State Park in Moravia, New York. A popular saying that one might hear around town (or see on t-shirts) is, "Ithaca is gorges", referring to the picturesque and unique geological formations specific to the region. (Learn more about how and why HERE)

Anyway, I really love running in this environment and figured I'd wander out a little to mix things up. Even though I did a relatively hard barefoot speed workout on the soccer fields with Eric S. two days prior an 11 hour slumber the night before left me feeling re-charged!

The 7-mile trail race is put on by The Finger Lakes Runners Club and directed by the colorful Joel Cisne (so a good intended pretty much a guarantee ;0)

As Maureen and I arrived to the park so did some dark purple clouds along with some rolls of thunder. Many past participants warned us about the hazards of this course mostly consisting of wooden and stone bridges that are like running on banana peels when wet. Of course you have the regular hazards of climbing and descending treacherous trails with sharp rocks and roots and cement blocks for stairs in some places. So it rained a little and the storm moved on out of sight as we all made our way to the starting line. Again, I toed the line in my Inov-8 F-Lite 230's that serve really well for these shorter races I have been using as part of my training. I don't think it would have mattered what shoes I wore in this race...some spots were just downright sketchy!

At the start I see Nate Lockett who has the course record and I pretty much told myself just to go for second place knowing his pure speed and strength. The only way I'd have a chance with him is if he got lost (which he is known for) but that still might not even matter.

So Joel sends us off and I follow Nate for the first mile and a half or so and then he's gone out of sight. To my rear is youngster Matt T. from Horseheads who just came off a nice race down at Tanglefoot and we climbed the gorge trail which seemed like a half mile...some parts being pretty steep. That's a good way to start off a fast race...straight up! Even once we summit the top I am unable to shake Matt T. so I put in some surges and finally lost sight of him after the first aid station. This course was no joke but at times I was so amazed by the pristine beauty of the park. We ran past waterfalls, over bridges, up and down quite a bit, and one part had water dripping off the bank which felt so good to put my hands and head under to cool off.

Before the race I calculated by looking at past years results that I could probably run around 50 minutes... so that was my goal...along with maintaining second place once I started. As I headed down the steep section with a little over a mile to go I did some math and realized that I may be able to break 49 minutes if I keep that's what I did. As I entered the field before the finish I look at my Garmin and it reads 48:35 and counting! I sprint through the downhill grass and as I approach the finish with just just about everything I got the clock ticks 49:01...dohhhhhh!!!!!!!!

I had a really fun time seeing everyone and the park is awesome! I may go out there again before I skip town to hike around and swim with Erica. Joel and company did a tremendous job and I love how they have different awards at the end like mid pack award, worst crash, youngest/oldest runner, etc. Also, the fact that this race is offered on a Thursday evening makes it appealing if you are accustomed to longer runs on the me. I also half-joked with Joel that he should have an option for this race in the future. For the finish...runners should have the option of a slip and slide down the grassy field...or...they can run...but whatever happened to slip and slide? ;0)

Another FLRC event with good peeps and great energy...on to the next on the fourth! More on that later ;0)

So a big weekend in the ultrarunning world with Western States 100 taking place in Cali starting Saturday morning. I figured out a way to honor the super athletes that will be starting up Squaw Valley ski resort in the wee hours of the morning. Why don't we plan a point to point training run up a ski resort? So that's what we did! Roughly 10 of us took off on the Finger Lakes Trail up the back side of Greek Peak at 6:45 am Saturday morning just about when folks are getting ready out on the west coast. The last time I was on this trail was like mile 75 of The Iroquois Trails 100 last September. We decided to take the trail from Gatherings to Daisy Hollow where we had dropped some cars. This morning was much messier than that crazy night in September but we had a solid 2.5 hour trail run. I let people know when everyone was starting for WS 100 and honestly I was anxious to get back to the live webcast to see how this battle was gonna go down.

First we had to head out to a good friends place to sit for a portrait. Annemarie Zwack, a local professional artist and dear friend of ours, offered to paint us as a wedding gift. Check her website out HERE The portrait still blows my mind when I see it! Thank you Annemarie...this is something we will cherish forever!

By the time we got back we were well into the
race and I was excited to see what was transpiring. East coast ultra runner and friend Leigh Schmitt was in second place behind Hal Koerner (defending champ)! I told people to watch out for Leigh because he has been running so well lately and I was pumped that it was continuing on one of the brightest stages in ultrarunning. For the next several hours I periodically checked back to the race webcast and was delighted to see Leigh still holding second place through 80 miles. I woke up early in the morning to find out that he dropped to 7th place but still an absolutely stellar performance Leigh...thatta boy!!! Leigh really taught me a lot and helped me get into ultrarunning and I've run a couple races with him as well. I also was rooting on fellow Inov-8 team members Kevin Sullivan and AJW who both clawed their way to the top throughout the day. Great work everyone...I look forward to hearing more about it and hope to take part in this demanding race some time in the near future!

OK so all this excitement has me really raring to go for the Fifties but I am also a little apprehensive about putting it all together in one run. I hope the IT Band will hold up. I keep telling myself that I will stop at 50K if need be but what I truly want is to just be done with this somewhat nagging injury! I wish I could have gotten in some more miles over the last couple of months but I have been incorporating many strength building exercises that are hopefully getting to the root of the problem.

I added up the mileage for the last month and came up with 277...not great...but not horrible all things considered. This week will be lots of rest, possibly a massage, light running, and lots of good eating!

Hope to see you out in the beautiful Finger Lakes National Forest to celebrate the Fourth of July!

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "Fear is the strongest driving-force in competition. Not fear of one's opponent, but of the skill and high standard which he represents; fear, too, of not acquitting oneself well. In the achievement of greater performances, of beating formidable rivals, the athlete defeats fear and conquers himself."----Franz Stampfl, Stampfl on Running

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