|photo credit: USL|
Cayuga 50 marked my 7th week after Worlds. It seems like way longer. For the remainder of April and some of May I took it really easy. No speed work or structure. When I finally began my structured workouts again from Michele I felt tired and slow and not recovered. To be expected I guess. Towards the end of May I had a few good speed sessions and workouts where I felt like I was back. On May 24th, I raced the Charlie Horse Trail Half Marathon put on by the awesome Pagoda Pacers, a large, local area running club who have a lot of badass members. It is Ryan's favorite race and he reminded me so, just a few times though out the winter and into this spring. I had a total blast running this race! The hills were more challenging than I thought and I enjoyed insanely steep road section that was one mile downhill. This section reminded me of the Hatfield and McCoy Marathon which i will sadly miss this year. :(. Anyway, this race gave my legs a good pre-Cayuga workout so I decided to take it super easy the week after.
Ryan, Titus and I arrived in Ithaca Saturday morning. I met up with Eric Dalamarta at Finger Lakes Running to do a round table discussion with UltraSportsLive. Tyler Sighl also participated. He is a really talented, genuine dude from Wisconsin and unlike Roy Pirrung (the only other guy I know from Wisconsin), Tyler actually eats cheese! You can check out the piece we did with USL's Bree Lambert HERE.
At Robert Treman State Park, we met up Aly Venti. My former teammate drove from NYC with her dog Vusu to hang out and camp. I am super grateful to her awesome dinner she prepared. We cooked it all over an open fire.
|NO but seriously.. it was soo good!|
Realistically, I thought maybe top 5 would be possible (and in retrospect I still don't think this was an unrealistic goal). Then I learned there was still prize money for 4th place so that was my new goal. I was also excited to try out a brand new Nathan race vest called the Fireball. Its not even available to the masses yet. I really loved all the extra space up front to carry gels but had to give it back when I was done. I think I fit 6 Hammer gels in the one pocket.
A storm rolled through shortly before dark so Ryan, Titus and I were in our tent early and Aly and Vusu in theirs across the way. In the morning as i got ready in a comfortable 65 degrees. Warmer than last year. Turns out that was the warmest it would get all day. It started to rain on and off in the morning but the start was overcast and pleasant. The gun went off and everyone ran ahead. I ran the first loop with Jackie mostly. The pace felt comfortable I really enjoyed being on the trails again. "Racing" an ultra length distance with minimal pavement. I felt amazing until mile 20ish. It was like a switch. My legs went from great to NOOOOOOOO! My hamstrings tightened up and my knee started screaming from the downhills. Towards the end of the 1st lap, Karen Holland caught up to me and I got to chat with her a bit. I love Canada! I have yet to meet a disappointing Canadian. :)
Despite all the fun I was truly having, I thought that since my legs felt craptastic and my knee cap felt like it was tied in a knot that I should maybe just drop at the start/finish and spend the rest of the day catching up with Aly and hanging out at the campsite with Ryan. The thought crossed my mind. Heading into the finish for my lap 2 i realized I was 8th place female. Not much changed the 2nd lap. My pace slowed a bit but so did everyone else's. Well, except Jackie's. She came in to the 1st loop 7th place, right ahead of me and ended up 2nd... so my prediction wasn't too far off.
The second time up Brook Lick hill was 2 minutes slower than the first time. That Hill! The course, on the way back, has us come down a different way but I was not looking forward to the down so I tried to enjoy the up. The waterfalls were more amazing than I remembered and everything just looked so green. I was actually disappointed when we ran through a muddy section that had planks across the muddiest parts. I thought about running next to them instead of over them but then remembered my legs were already really tired.
|This picture of Titus is my attempt to make this blog more interesting.|
So to wrap this up; I had an absolute freaking blast running this race even though I grimaced in pain on the downhills, it was between smiles. I never hit a mental low point. In fact one of my high points was around mile 40 when it started pouring cold rain and it felt like the temps dropped to 40s. My hands got numb and I felt like I couldn't move as well. I tried to run faster to stay warm but i had been trying to do that for the last 20 miles (run faster that is) and it wasn't happening. I felt alive. Total and utter enjoyment! Maybe it is because I could never get my body to that threshold were the pace made it painful. My legs were not on board with that plan. I ultimately finished the race in 9:07 and 6th place female. A huge improvement over last year (10:28 and 14th female) and I guess we can successfully call that a redemption... right?
Thanks to Ian Golden and Red Newt Racing for allowing me this shot at redemption. Cayuga will remain one of my favorite races ever. Aly, thank you for being at the half way point to help me out while Ryan sat in his tent thinking I was still 4 miles out. ;) Ryan, thanks for driving me all the way to Ithaca. It is far. A lot farther than I ran. Michele, thanks as always for your guidance and expertise. You never tell me something is impossible. You just help me try to make it happen.
The wining combo on my feet once again..Trail Toes, Feetures and Altras. They work best when you put them on in that order. My Nathan Fireball served me well and I really like the colors they have coming out next season. I organized all my race and post race stuff in the my Victory drop bag. I survived the entire race on mainly Hammer gels and post race I drank my Recoverite. I did enjoy the salted potato I ate. It was delicious. Mike Reddy, maybe next time I will take you up on your McDonald's french fry offer. Thanks for all your encouragement at every aid station.
Next big one is Burning River 100 in Ohio in late July.
|Eric, Tyler, Jeff, Jackie, Anna, Mike, Amanda and yours truly. Thanks to Ryan for taking the pic. You are an expert.|