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Running a shorter trail race

On Wednesday night I ran the shortest of the Dirt Cheap races at Lucien Morin Park. I finished the run in 38:46, which is half a minute quicker than my time from last year.

This was a PR for this course, and quick enough for me to be the 92nd finisher and in the top 26th percentile.

With my previous two races both taking over four hours to complete, I wasn’t quite ready for the shorter race. I crossed the finish line with a lot of energy, and regretting that I didn’t push ahead with a faster pace. Most of my races over the next two months will also take less than an hour, so I should really give my speed work a bit more practice.

Finishing last at the Keuka Lake Triathlon

When I started this blog I wrote that it would be nice to finish last in a race, and on Sunday that finally came true as I had the slowest time at the Keuka Lake Triathlon. Unfortunately it did not come from pushing myself further, but rather from a lack of preparedness and some problems with my bike.

I knew that I hadn’t put in the practice for the swim or the bike, but was looking forwards to the race as it was fairly short. Then two days before the race, I got an email letting me know that my past self was far too overconfident, and that I had in face registered to compete in the longer distance. I ended up finishing the race in 4:11:36.

The swim portion actually went pretty well. 1500 meters is the second farthest that I have ever swam, only behind the 1.2 miles I swam in the 2015 Peasantman (ironically also at Keuka Lake). My time of 50:50 (while comparatively on the slow side) was very much in line with how I did in my longest swim.

The bike portion is where I had the most trouble on the course. The first ten miles went well enough. However after that there was a two mile long uphill that came just as I was getting fatigued, and where my bike started getting a bit of a vibration. After reaching the top of the hill it should have gotten easier, but it was starting to become apparent that there was something wrong with my bike, and mid-race I was unable to find the problem so I just pushed on. Fortunately the final seven miles of the bike course were all downhill so I could mostly coast into the finish, but at this point my bike was shaking so much that it was uncomfortable to stay in the saddle so even this section was slow.

By the time I got to the run I was solidly in last place, unmotivated, and a bit behind on my hydration. I felt bad on the run, but my time was actually very much in the middle of the pack. Over the 10k run I was averaging 10:42 miles. On its own this would be slow for me, but given that I was already three hours into the race, this was actually much quicker than I was at a similar point into my marathon a few weeks ago.

My next race is Wednesday night on the trails of Lucien Morin Park. Having the next few races being all running, and no biking should help me get some better results.

Marathon PR

On Sunday I finished the Buffalo Marathon in 4:31:44 which is a five minute improvement over my previous PR from two years ago. I had hoped to be a bit quicker, but I can’t complain about setting a new personal best time.

The weather was much better than last year, and I started the race too fast. A bit past the two mile mark I came across the 3:50 pace group and stayed with them until mile six. I felt good during this section, but knew that I wasn’t at a sustainable pace.

I crossed the half way point at 1:58 which is the quickest start that I have had in a full. While I was starting to feel myself slowing down, I reached the 30k mark (in just under three hours) before I had to slow to a walk at any point.

The section between mile 17 and 22 was a bit rough, but after passing Albright-Knox I found a more steady pace. While I managed to power myself to the finish line, my legs didn’t have anything left to give too much of a push at the end. Still, it was my quickest marathon ever.

A run through the woods

On Wednesday I ran the second Dirt Cheap race of the year at Black Creek Park. I finished the course in 53:44 which placed me 104th and among the top third of finishers.

The race was originally scheduled for earlier in the month, but got postponed to avoid ruining some trails that had been flooded. Unfortunately this placed the race just days before the Buffalo Marathon, so I made an effort to take it easy in this race instead of going at full pace.

Next up is my first marathon of the year, on Sunday morning in downtown Buffalo.

Another Half Marathon

On Saturday I ran the Grand Island Half Marathon. I finished in 1:50:36 which is two minutes slower than I was last week. Still it is the second fastest half that I have ever ran.

My main problem in this race is that I started way too fast. I finished the first 5k in 23:42 which was almost a minute ahead of where I should have been. Yet despite the fast start, at the turn-around I was already a minute behind my pace from last week, and just continued to fade from there.

I finished the race in 112th place, which puts me just outside of the top third of all finishers in the race. My next race will be the Dirt Cheap Race in Black Creek Park.

Half Marathon PR

On Sunday I ran the Flower City Half Marathon for the third year in a row. Also I used this race to improve my half marathon personal record for the third straight year.

I finished in 1:48:12 dropping over two and a half minutes from my previous PR. This time was good enough to put me in 374th place, and the 18th top percentile of finishers.

The weather was overcast and a bit cold, and half an hour into the race it started to rain on and off for the rest of the race. Which is to say that it was perfect weather for a run, and rather terrible weather for anything else.

I did a good job staying close to the 1:45 pace group, finishing the first 5k in 24:32, and the second 5k in 24:36. Six and a half miles into the race (at the first big hill), I got dropped by the pace group. Still I did a better job this year on the second half of the course and finished under 1:50 for the first time ever.

I will be getting another chance to drop my PR even further at the Grand Island Half this Saturday.

Flower City Paddle Triathlon


On Saturday I competed in the Flower City Paddle Triathlon for the fourth straight year. I finished in 2:55:40, which unfortunately is slower than my time from last year.

The running part of the race went well. I ran the five kilometers in 22:05, which is only four seconds off my pace from the 2016 version of the race.

The bike is where this race fell apart for me. Going into the triathlon, I was aware that I hadn’t put in enough practice on the bike but hoped that I wouldn’t lose too much time. Instead it took me 1:37:36 to complete, which was 13 minutes slower than last year.

At 54 minutes, the kayak portion of the race also took longer than last year. However, given that I am always out of practice with the kayak, this probably had more to do with the change in river conditions. Not only was the average flow rate was higher than the past two years, and a wind storm from March has left the river filled with an usually high number of downed trees, that provided additional obstacles and unpredictable currents.

First Race of 2017

Yesterday I ran a trail race at Mendon Ponds as my first race of the season. I finished with a course PR of 48:02 after dropping over a minute from my performance last year.

This finish puts me in the top 27th percentile, and 93rd place.

Coming into the race I felt like I was a bit behind on my training, so I was surprised to get the PR. I did a good job pushing through the hills and mud, but felt drained trying to recover my pace after each obstacle. However, the results indicate that I still have my speed, and it will take a longer race to see if I still have my endurance.

2017 Race Calendar

I missed all of the March races this year after going to Asia for two weeks, but I still plan on doing plenty of running in 2017. Here are the races that I am committed to so far…

Another race at Cobbs Hill

On Wednesday night I ran another winter trail race at Cobbs Hill. With a course that was significantly different from the last two times, I finished in 22:53. This put me in 58th place in the race, which is better than the last two races on both an overall and a percentile basis.

I felt good through the race, and for the first time in quite a while I didn’t have to worry about ice. I actually paced myself a little bit too slow as the course was a bit shorter than I had anticipated.

A run through the snow

On Wednesday night I ran my second Snow Cheap race this winter, and my first race of 2017. This was two laps through the snow of Cobbs Hill Park.

My finishing time of 40:12 was slightly quicker than my last race (albeit on a slightly different course). Despite this I didn’t feel to great in this race as my limited running over the past month was catching up to me. Most of the improvement in my time is probably due to me simply managing to finish the two laps without falling.

A Winter Trail Race

On Wednesday night I ran the Snow Cheap race at Cobbs Hill Park. I finished the 3.7ish miles in 41:06 which placed me 77th overall.

For my first race in over a month, I felt ok. I was way too overdressed, and was overheating on the first lap. I also fell twice, on the icy downhill the first lap, and after tripping over something in the woods towards the end of the second lap. You can’t really tell too much from a night trail race over the snow, but at least these events are fun. I will probably do a few more in the beginning of 2017.

Running through 2016

2016racingWith December upon us, my races are largely done for the year. Since March I ran in 18 races for a total of 197 racing miles. This season I set a PR in the half-marathon and 50k, and in the spring I ran my first races at the 15k and 19k distances.

I also improved my personal course record on both of the triathlons that I had raced before, while also improving my time on many of the trail races. Although this summer also saw my first DNF.

Hopefully I will be running even farther and faster in 2017.

Seventh Year Running the Buffalo Turkey Trot

139808-169-014f-cropOn Thanksgiving morning I ran my final race of the season, covering the five miles of Turkey Trot in 39:35. This was quick enough to put me in the top 10% of the race’s finishers.

This was the first time in the Turkey Trot that I didn’t improve upon my time from the previous year, but my time was only a tad over a minute slower and more or less where I expected to finish this year.

A Weekend of Trail Running

15039668_1114279208640703_1229048688053489987_cropI ran three trail races over the past three days as part of the Dirt Cheap Stage Race. While I ran a lot this summer it had been a month since my last race, and two months since I last ran on trails.

The first stage was three mile night run in the dark of the woods. The weekend didn’t get off to the best start as my time of 35:12 was over a minute slower than last year.

14976484_1113240875411203_4716410815631143629_cropThings went a better during the five point five mile run on the second day. I finished in 46:53 which is a bit over two minutes faster than I ran this stage last year.

15003409_10211248558875664_6592918781843626877_oSunday morning was the final and longest stage of the race. And as the weekend went on, I kept doing better. I finished the 11 mile stage in 1:50:10, a full ten minutes quicker than my time from last year. The final run was also my best placement as the 65th fastest runner.

15068877_10211248697199122_8930143011209005226_cropFrom last year, I dropped over eleven minutes from my overall time to finish all three stages in 3:12:17 and the top 35th percentile. My next race is the Buffalo Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning.

Women dominate the Half Marathon

Earlier this year I ran in the Right to Run 19k in Seneca Falls. The race itself is an homage to the nineteenth amendment which gave women the right to vote and had its roots in this small town in the finger lakes. Partially as a result of this branding, there were a lot of women in the race.

This was noted at the starting line when a special shout out was given to the men who choose to join in this race. At the time I thought that this wasn’t all that unusual as it felt like the women usually outnumbered the men. In fact, every previous road race that I had run in 2016 (Runnin’ O’ the Green 5 mile, Spring Forwards Distance Run 15k, and Flower City Half) had all been majority female.
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Over the course of a full year this pattern evened out some as most races I participated in were closer to 50/50
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But for the half marathon (the traditional distance closest to 19k) a different pattern emerged. In addition to the 19k, the women outnumbered the men in both half marathons I ran this year. At three further events (Buffalo Marathon, Shoreline Triathlon, and the Rochester Marathon) a 13.1 mile race was held concurrently and all of these events were also majority female.
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In fact I looked for every Half Marathon I could find anywhere in the Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Finger Lakes areas and every single one of them was majority female. In fact women made up over 59% of the field in all but two of these races.
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I don’t know why the gender split is so large, but women have definitely proven that they have the right to run half marathons…

CanLake 50k

On Saturday I finished the CanLake 50k for the second time. Last year I finished in 6:08, and this year (after running 31 miles) I improved upon my time by finishing in 6:07.

The start of the race almost went too well. Off the starting line I found myself in fifth place. I assumed that I just had a lucky start and would be passed by soon, but I then finished the first mile without anyone passing me. One girl passed me in the second mile, but by mile five I was still in sixth place and it was clear that this start was not a fluke.

I was feeling good, but was a bit concerned that I might have started to fast. Fortunately the next section of the course was an out and back, so I could see that while I was towards the front, the main field was only a tiny bit behind me.

Typically the finger lakes region is very pretty, but this year the landscape was marred by Trump signs. It was a bit disquieting having to run through such a concentration of hate.

At the Middlesex aid station (mile 12) I picked up my hydration pack and took on some solid food. This would be the last nutrition that I took during the race, in a strategy that was markedly different from last year.

Bare Hill is the most difficult part of the 50k course, and I feel that knowing what to expect I handled it much better than last year. I moved steadily up the hill, and had no difficulty breaking into a run after reaching the summit.

At mile 20 a horse ran out ahead of me and joined the race.

I knew all along the final ten miles were going to be the hardest part of the race, but I pushed on. Fortunately the final mile and a half of the race is all downhill so it is easy to finish the race strong.

Rochester Marathon

race_2213_photo_44991295_wideOn Sunday I ran the Rochester Marathon for the third straight year. After being a bit disappointed in my performance in this race last year, I decided to change my strategy a bit by carrying my own water and by starting with a slower pace group. Unfortunately this didn’t really help, and my time of 5:34 was actually a bit slower than last time.

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I started out with the 4:20 pace group, which is a slow start for me, but after the second hill at mile six I started to fall behind. I finished the first half in 2:17 which is the slowest opening 13.1 that I have ever run. The second half of the race was mostly just dragging myself to the finish line. Hopefully I can get things back on track for the Canandaigua Lake 50k in October.

Third straight trail race

14231385_1053778784690746_7275434202921499017_cropOn Wednesday I returned to Mendon Ponds for the final Dirt Cheap race of the season. Apparently I have forgotten how to run on pavement as this was my third straight race on trails, and my fifth straight if you don’t count the triathlons. I apparently have not ran a road race since the Fourth of July.

I finished the course in 51:40 which placed me in 87th place. The course was dry, but that advantage was nullified by the oppressive heat. As a result I was actually a few minutes slower than last year.

My next race is the Rochester Marathon on the 18th. Hopefully by then this heat wave will be gone, and I won’t have to repeat the struggles of the Buffalo Marathon.

Black Diamond Express Half Marathon

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On Sunday I ran the Black Diamond Express Half Marathon on Mendon. I finished the race in 1:59 which is a bit slower than I was hoping for as the course (while being a trail race) was very flat. This is because the trail is a former rail bed, and the black diamond refers not to the ski hill rating, but rather the train that used to run the route. Overall I finished in 54th place which is in the top third of all runners.

Another Trail Race

14054299_1036718983063393_6376392555277512817_cropOn Wednesday night I took part in the penultimate Dirt Cheap race at Durand Eastman Park. I finished the 4.4ish mile course in 45 minutes and 11 seconds. This is a five minute improvement from last year, and I felt good during the race.

Sodus Point Triathlon

13987440_1027948303940461_1565563347669155417_cropOn Sunday I completed a triathlon at Sodus Point. I finished the course in 1:45:08. Without any previous times on this course, the most I can say is that my average pace was similar to the slightly longer Shoreline Triathlon I finished last month.

A last minute change moved the swim to the other side of the peninsula in an area that included a few shallow areas that need to be walked. If anything that was a help to the slower swimmers like myself and I finished the swim course in 23:01.

The bike course was unexpectedly hilly, but at only 13.1 miles it was also a bit on the short side. I finished the biking in 52:13 and averaged the exact same miles per hour as my last triathlon.

My 27:11 for the run was a little disappointing, but relative to the rest of the field the run is still my strongest part of the race.

The Battle at Bristol Mountain

02b25bb588ef1793915e7f862f716a08-cropOn Saturday I went down to the Bristol Mountain Ski Resort to run a 50k. Unfortunately the hills were quite a bit steeper than I was prepared for, and I had to drop out after 20 miles.

The course consisted of three laps around a 10 mile loop, with each loop consisting of 5 climbs up the mountain for a total of 4,000+ feet of elevation gain each lap.
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From the very start of the race it was clear that this was going to be different from the 50k that I ran last year as my pace slowed down to a power walk on the first (and least steep) hill. Still I managed to stay with the pack, and actually had fun running down the first two hills. The third time up the mountain was the steepest hill, but the first time around it was still early enough in the race that I had the energy to get up. Next was the one part of the course that was level enough to actually run.

This was followed by a downhill that was both steep and overgrown, and resulted in me falling a dozen times during the decent. I don’t mind the stronger athletes going by me on the uphills, but seeing how many people passed me by on this downhill was the first sign that I was going to be in trouble. The final two climbs were long and difficult, but again I found myself really bleeding away time on the final two descents.
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I finished the first lap in 3:23, and found that I had the trail to myself for the first two climbs of the second lap. Once I found myself walking on the second downhill on what had previously been a fun part of the course, I knew that I was probably not going to make it to a third lap. I struggled on the third uphill, but felt that the final two climbs were done at a steady pace. Again my biggest problem was the downhills, as I struggled to maintain any speed on the final three downhills.

I ended up finishing the two laps in 8:37 which is (by one minute) the longest that I have ever been on a race course. Fortunately my next trail race should be over in under an hour.

A Run in Webster Park

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On Wednesday I ran the fourth race in Dirt Cheap Trail Series at Webster Park. I finished the course in 52:15 which is a bit slower than last year, but is still my second best time on this course.

Back in 2011 this course was the first Dirt Cheap race I ever did, and it is always fun to come back to this park and run it again. My next trail race will take a bit longer as it is a 50k down at Bristol Mountain.

Shoreline Triathlon PR

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On Sunday I finished the Shoreline Triathlon in 2 hours and 5 minutes. This is my best time yet on this course, and I improved my time on the swimming, biking, and running portions of the race.

I finished the half mile swim in 24:43 which is a bit over a minute quicker than last year. I am still one of the slower swimmers, but I am improving.
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I finished the 15.7 mile bike course in 62:21. This is 13 minutes quicker than I was when I first did this race in 2014. Last year’s bike course was slightly different, but I still had a higher average speed than last year, and also the paddle-tri from earlier this year.

The run has been my most consistent part of this race, but I still managed to finish the four miles 45 seconds quicker than my previous best on this course.