On Thursday night I ran the Innovative Edge Cross Country 5k at Cobbs Hill park. I finished the race in 28:20 which is not that quick, but is more or less consistent with the pace I have been running most races this year.
I ran the first mile in under eight minutes, but unfortunately lost some pace running up the hill after that. I could blame the heat, but I think the real issue is that I am having trouble breaking out of the pace that serves me well in 10+ mile distances but comes across as a bit slow in the shorter races.
On Saturday morning I ran the 0SPF Trail Half Marathon on the Seneca and Crescent Trails. This was my first time running this race, and I finished the 14 miles in 3:09:57.
Before the event I was only familiar with the Crescent Trail portion of the course, but right off the start I quickly found out that the Seneca Trail was just as hilly. Despite the distance I (and most of the other runners) were treating the event in much the same way that you would approach and ultra. I carried my own water, and wasn’t afraid of walking the steeper hills right from the start.
For the first half of the race I felt pretty good. Almost none of the course was flat, but I was moving well and finished the first half in 1:29. Two of the largest hills on the course come right before the turn around which means you turn around and do them once again which was a bit draining. Additionally I fell on this section, which is really only surprising in that it only happened once.
On the way back I could feel myself tiring, but I managed to keep pace fairly well through mile 12. For the final two miles I was slowing down for even the slightest of uphills, but I made it back to the finish.
On the morning of the fourth of July I ran the Fairport Firecracker Four Mile. I finished the race in 36:48 which was quicker than roughly two thirds of the field. While I did run this event last year, this year’s course was a mile longer so there is not too much of a great comparison to be made.
The first half of the course had little to no shade, and most of the route’s hills. While my splits were probably pretty even, I was feeling rather drained after the first half. The second half of the course was along streets that I run often and was more protected from the sun.
On Sunday morning I ran my first marathon of the year, running the course in Buffalo and finishing just under five hours. This was my first marathon since running the same course last year, and at my time of 4:55:30 only a tiny bit slower.
Despite being worried about my training coming in to the race, I actually felt pretty good at the start line with plans to run a slow and casual 2:15 opening half. I just went with a pace that felt good, and it wasn’t until the 4:10 pace group passed me at mile four that I realized that I had gone out way too fast. Still I was feeling good and finished the first 10k in under 60 minutes which was inexplicably quicker than my stand alone 10k race from the week before.
Knowing that I had started too fast and wasn’t really in competitive shape I kept expecting for things to blow up early, and it just didn’t happen. I finished the first half of the race in 2:10 which was quicker than my plan, and signifcantly faster than the Flower City Half I had run just a month prior.
Actually things were really feeling a lot like the 2021 Buffalo Marathon with this year’s first half being two minutes quicker.
Around the 25k mark the blow up I knew was coming finally hit. From here on the race was a struggle, oscillating between burst of energy, and feeling that 26.2 miles is far too long to go. Despite this, I mathematically remained on pace to PR all the way until mile 17.
For much of this distance I was uncertain if I would hit my goal of finishing in under five hours. I was then passed by the 4:50 pace leader at mile 24, and while I knew I couldn’t keep up with her, I was certain that she wasn’t going to beat me by ten minutes either. The final two miles were not fast, but I was at least confident through them.
On Sunday morning I ran the Vale of Three Falls 10k in Letchworth State Park. I finished the race in 61:40 which was just a few minutes slower than I ran the same course in 2018. Overall I wasn’t thrilled with the result, but I did finish comfortably in the top half of the field.
Having four years since I last ran this course, I had forgotten how much elevation this run had. As an out and back course with the entire first mile as a downhill, you at least know what to expect for the finish. I started off strong enough, but ended up walking the final hill before the turn around. But after the turn I was able to regain my pace, and only slowed down for a few stretches in that final uphill mile.
My next race is the Buffalo Marathon in less than a week. Honestly I am a bit nervous about it as what I was hoping would be my marathon pace is a tad bit quicker than I ran this 10k. At least Buffalo is flat, but this upcoming 26.2 is going to be a real struggle.
On Saturday morning I raced in the Allegany Adventure Run 27K in Allegany State Park. I finished the course in a time of 3:31 for what is my first trail race of the year, and my longest run since the Buffalo Marathon last June. While my per mile pace was a tad bit slower than last week, I left this race feeling much more confident about my training.
For the first three miles of the race I felt pretty good. Despite being a trail race, most of this course is on well maintained trails designed for cross country skiing, so they were not overly steep or technical. The course was certainly not flat, but this course had a different feeling from most trail runs.
Coming into the event with a plan to walk the hills, I made it through the first five miles feeling good. The next mile was a long downhill and while I used this to make good time, it set me up for a problem I would see on the rest of the course where the mix between uphill and downhill didn’t switch back often enough for a walk the hills strategy to really work.
Starting a mile 9.5 the course got decidedly more technical. I was moving pretty well through this, but there were some spots where I had to slow down just to find the trail. The final four miles returned to the ski trails, and relieved to no longer do any way finding I was able to attack the hills fairly well.
Coming into the race I knew in advance that the final 2.2 miles were an uphill slog. While I was tired, I also knew that there was nothing more to save my energy for so I took this climb on the best that I could. The course was tough, but I finished feeling fairly good.
The next race on my calendar is the Vale of Three Falls 10k in Letchworth Park, but perhaps I will be able to sneak in another race before then.
I came into Sunday’s Flower City Half Marathon knowing full well that I was a bit out of shape, still I did not expect things to go as poorly as they did. I finished with a time of 2:28:33 which is over 20 minutes slower than when I felt I was poorly prepared for the same event last year.
The first two miles of the race went pretty well. There were no pace groups or split times this year, but I felt like I started slowing down a bit before mile three. Just after the half way point, I decided it was best to walk up the course’s largest hill. On it’s own it was a reasonable decision for my pace so far at that point, but I had trouble getting my legs back into gear after that. At the 90 minute mark I was only 8.5 miles in, and some quick math left me pretty demoralized for the rest of the race. I ended up doing a run/walk routine for the final few miles, that got me to the finish, but didn’t leave me feeling accomplished.
My next race is the Allegany Adventure Run next Saturday, which is even more miles and more hills. Hopefully my fitness level turns around over the next five days.
Two years ago the Runnin’ of the Green was the first (of many) races to be canceled due to the pandemic. After having my registration be deferred, not once but twice, I have finally, finally run this race again. Hopefully this is the start of a more normal, more predictable year.
As cathartic as it was to be running in this event again, the morning of the race my expectations were kind of low. I have gotten very few training runs in during the past three months, and awoke to find the streets covered in snow. However, once the race started and I got going, I felt pretty good and was glad to be back to racing after a four month hiatus.
I finished with a time of 47:29 for the five mile course. While this was six minutes slower than when I last ran this course in 2019, I exceeded by goal of staying under ten minutes per mile.
With the 2022 racing season kicking off this weekend, I finally feel confident for the first time since the start of the pandemic to make some long term plans. While I am sure there are more events to come in the fall, for the first time since 2019 here is a tentative plan for the year…
2021 was not quite the triumphant return to running that I had been hoping for with only nine completed races this year. While that is more than I ran in 2020 this year was still overly impacted by the pandemic where some spring races were postponed into summer and a few others didn’t happen at all. Somehow I only managed to run two trail races all year.
This past weekend I returned to trail running with the three day Dirt Cheap Stage Race. While this was my fifth time running this event (2015 – 2016 – 2017 – 2019), somehow this was only my second trail race of the year. As is so often the case, this mid-november race was largely defined by the weather.
Friday night’s leg of the race is a short run in the dark, and the weather was the most promising that I can ever remember for this event. However things went off the rails when my headlamp died only a quarter mile into the course. Eventually I came to a fork in the path, and was unable to see the flags pointing out the turn. After a short wait I followed the next runner with a working light, and fortunately he had a pace rather similar to my own so I followed him closely for most of the trail.
With under a mile to go I found my pace was slowing down, so I made the mistake of dropping back a bit from my friend with the light. The final stretch of the trail was possible to navigate without a light, but required me to slow down substantially to find the trail, and avoid tripping on the downhills. This resulted in me finishing with a rather slow time of 42:18 for the first stage of the race.
Saturday saw the weather take a drastic turn for the worse leaving us to run in a cold rain. This left the trails in a muddy mess, and while I only actually fell once I was left slipping and sliding through the entire course. While Mendon Ponds is often muddy, I have raced these particular trails well over a dozen times and have never seen the trail conditions as bad as they were on saturday. While my time of 56:33 was a little on the slow side, it was actually a few seconds quicker than my 2017 time in the snow.
Given that we received the first snowfall of the year shortly after saturday’s leg of the race, I expected sunday to be worse and was surprised that despite the cold there was no rain or snow. Given how much I struggled the day before, and knowing that conditions were going to be bad on sections of the trail, I decided to treat the race like an ultra despite it only being 11 miles.
The first 4.5 miles of the race are on the relatively drier eastern side of the park, which when combined with an early commitment to walking the uphills left me moving well and felling pretty good through the beginning of the day. The northern section of the race is as flat as this course gets, and I took that fairly quickly as well. After that the final half of the race was back in the mud which had no time to dry from the day before. I finished stage three with a time of 2:18:00 which even with my lower expectations was a bit disappointing.
My overall time of 3:56:51 is the slowest of the five times I have run this event.
With plans to be in Sri Lanka during the turkey trot there is a possibility that this may be my final race of the year, but I may do a 5k in december.
On Sunday morning I ran the Rochester Half Marathon. My time of 2:08:54 was slower than I wanted it to be, but more or less in line with where I expected to finish. I was only a minute behind my other half of the year which had been on a flatter course.
The race used covid as an excuse to cheap out, so there were no pacers or split times available this year and my pacing was based off of my best guess. Still I felt pretty good for the first four miles of the race. After that I slowed down a little, but my pace felt steady. (Although I was stopping for water which I typically don’t do for races this short). I walked the hill at 11.5 miles, but even that didn’t feel so bad this year, which perhaps is just a sign that I wasn’t pushing enough.
I haven’t yet scheduled my next race, but hopefully I run more than one in October.
On sunday I ran (biked and swam) the peasantman triathlon in Penn Yan. This was my first triathlon since 2017 my first return to the peasantman since completing the half in 2015. Going into the race I knew that I was being powered more by enthusiasm and excitement than by actual training, and opted to step down to the intermediate distance. I finished the race in 4:11:54.
Going into this race I am fairly sure that I have not actually swam at all within the past two years. Probably not the best prep for what was the second longest swim of my life. Still I finished the mile in 55:06 which while near the tail end of the pack, was more or less in line with what I expected and actually slightly quicker than my average pace during my last tri.
I biked the 29 mile lap in 2:12 in what was the most difficult part of the course for me. With my slow swim I had a fairly lonely bike ride after turning away from the bikers on the sprint distance course. I did pass one rider (and gained ground on many others), but didn’t see to many people on the course until some of the other distance competitors started catching me towards the end of the loop. Maybe it is because I could only really compare myself to the sprinters and the leaders of the full, but it felt like my bike just didn’t go that fast even when I was maxed out going downhill. Still the final downhill into Penn Yan was a ton of fun and allowed me to reach some speeds that would have been reckless without someone directing traffic at the bottom of the hill.
The bike portion (and my lack of training on the bike) is what really held me back from going for the half distance. I could have managed a longer run, and the swim distance is barely different, but I would have really been in trouble had I needed to do a second lap on the bike. The transitions between events are not the most exciting parts of the race, but they are a part of it nonetheless. I mention this only to point out that my 39 second transition was actually the quickest in the field. I may not have won the swimming, or the biking, or the running, but I was the T2 champion.
For the run I completed the quarter marathon in 1:01:25. This was the one discipline that I was actually prepared for, and while I passed a handful of people I started too far back to really move up the field. The run was quick and steady even if I didn’t have much of a finishing kick after racing for four hours. This is going to be my one and only triathlon for the year, but I should have some more foot races coming up before too long.
On tuesday night I ran the Run Our River 5k along the Genesee River in Rochester. I finished the race with a time of 25:16 which is the quickest 5k I have ran all year.
Traditionally I don’t run that many 5k races, but this year’s race calendar appears to still be feeling the lingering effects of covid. I was two minutes quicker than earlier in the month, and a minute ahead of my time from April. The improvement isn’t even due to the weather, as I ran this on a hot July night.
The first two miles of the race went fairly well. While I did get passed a good amount on the first mile, that was probably more a result of starting to close to the front than pacing myself wrong. The final mile was a struggle mainly because I miscalculated where the finish line was. Thinking that the race ended just past the Ford Street bridge I started pushing myself way to early when I still had well over a half mile still to go. But I am not going to complain too much about my best time of the year.
I went out at a pretty good pace knowing that this race was significantly shorter than last weeks marathon. However at roughly the half way point, it became clear that I had started too fast so I had to slow down to more of a long distance pace for the second half of the race.
This was my third weekend in a row with a race, so it appears as if the running calendar is starting to get back to normal.
On Sunday morning I ran the Buffalo Marathon on a hot June day. After originally signing up for this race in late 2019, and seeing it get delayed again and again, it was great to finally run a traditional race with no course or wave modifications due to covid. This was my first marathon since running Niagara Falls 20 months ago.
I finished the race in 4:46:08 which was far quicker than I expected. Having to run in the June heat, and feeling far under trained from the past year I didn’t come into the race having any expectations of finishing below five hours, and was considering dropping to the half as recently as a week ago.
Yet somehow, my time was shockingly decent. I was 33 minutes quicker than my last marathon, and only four minutes slower than my last run on the same course. Given the weather, this run was perhaps most comparable to the very warm 2016 race where I was only half a minute quicker than this year.
As a carry over from covid, there were no pace groups, so I was left on my own to figure out how fast to go. I felt fairly comfortable at the start, going at a steady pace while briefly walking the water stops. This strategy gave me a 63 minute opening 10k and a 2:12 half. This is both remarkably consistent, and only four minutes slower than my half marathon time from last week.
A bit past mile 14 I slowed down to walk a small hill, but mostly kept up my running until mile 17 which is always the toughest part of this course. From here on, I mostly maintained a run/walk pattern until the final mile of the race. The full gatorade bottles that seemed a bit wasteful on the first half of the course, were an absolute blessing on the second half. As were the many residents willing to walk into the middle of the street, and blast me with a hose.
Overall though the second half of the course did not mess up my pace too badly, and I came away with a time that I was very happy with and a full half hour quicker than I had expected.
On Sunday morning I finally ran the Flower City Half Marathon, after the race had been repeatedly postponed for over a year. I finished the race in 2:07:46, which while not a great time, isn’t really a complete disaster either. While I would ideally be finishing in under two hours, my time was only a minute and a half behind my last half marathon, and was actually quicker than the 2018 Flower City Half.
Planning this race under covid restrictions resulted in a different course than most years, following the trails on the canal and the river instead of through the city streets. Thankfully much of the trail was under shade (including almost all of the second half) so the higher temperatures of running a race in June were not too much of a bother. I carried my own water in the race, which I normally don’t do for half marathons, but felt like the right decision in hindsight.
Despite this being the longest that I have ran in the past year, I felt ok, and kept a fairly steady pace throughout the whole run. I don’t think that I really could have gone too much faster, but I didn’t feel as if I was falling apart either.
Next week is the Buffalo Marathon which is another race that has been repeatedly postponed and is finally ready to happen. I am not in shape to do great, but I am fairly confident that I can finish.
Wednesday night I ran my first trail race of the year at Durand Eastman Park, ironically at the site of my final trail race from last year. I finished the course in a rather slow 47:55 which was well off my pace from last fall.
I had gotten almost no sleep the night before, so I knew that my performance wasn’t going to be great from the get go. I actually fell into a nice pace on the flat sections, but the trail was mostly hills, and I ended up walking too many of the uphill sections.
Both the Flower City Half and the Buffalo Marathon are scheduled for June, but I may find another race to run before then.
On Saturday morning I ran the 100 Days of Hope 5K in Gates. This race celebrated the 100th day of 2021, and was the first road race I ran in 500 days since the 2019 Turkey Trot.
I finished the 3.1 miles in 26:01 which is a minute and a half slower than my last 5k. However after not racing for so long I really had no clue what to expect my time to be. I felt very dead after the first mile, and probably started out too fast. The final two miles were more steady but never really felt fast.
As vaccination rates continue to climb, hopefully we can return to a more normal looking race calendar for the rest of the year.
Not much to wrap up on the 2020 racing year. Pretty much everything was canceled, and I was out of shape on the few races I did run. I only ran seven races on the year, and every last one of them was on trails. A few races were deferred to 2021 (Running O’ The Green, Flower City Half, and Buffalo Marathon) and hopefully they happen, but at this point I suspect that next year’s racing calendar my be a bit light as well. But hopefully still more than seven races.
On the morning of Halloween I ran the final Dirt Cheap race of the year at Durand Eastman Park. I finished in 40:25 which was quicker than I was last year. In fact this is a course PR for me, and while this year’s course did not include the opening loop around the shelter the 1:46 improvement over my 2017 time should more than make up for that.
The morning of the race was very cold, and I regretted not wearing gloves, but the ground was fortunately dry. I had a few minor slips as I slid down the side of a leaf covered slope, but no major tumbles on the course. As with the last race this was a wave start, and I had a good amount of company for the first half of the race. It was probably the best that I felt in a race all year, even if I am aware that my training doesn’t really have me prepared for marathon distances I was running last year.
Anticlimactically this looks as if it might be my last race for the year. I didn’t end up running a single road race. Hopefully the running calendar looks more normal in 2021.
Sunday morning was the fourth Dirt Cheap race of the year after being postponed from some point in the summer. And for the first time since March, I crossed the starting line with other people. The race used a number of wave starts, so I started with a very small number of people but this was better than a time trial. (Even if one of the waves was literally starting as I approached the finish line.)
The downside of starting with others is that my competitive side got the best of me and I went out way too fast. The course was a short four miles, but I struggled mightily on the hills. I finished the course in 45:51 which didn’t feel fast, but was slightly quicker than the august race which was mostly the same course in the opposite direction. So perhaps the encouragement (and pacing) of the other runners was helpful, because my training sure hasn’t improved.
The final race of this year’s dirt cheap summer series will be on the morning of halloween at Durand Eastman Park.
On Wednesday night I ran the third Dirt Cheap Trail Race of the year at Mendon Ponds park. I finished the course in 50:54 which is just 13 seconds behind my time from last year. Given how physically and emotionally drained I felt following the past week of protests, and how almost all training this year has gone out the window, I was surprisingly happy with this result.
Like the previous two dirt cheap races this was run as a time trial in order to minimize crowding along the trails. Perhaps this solitary running would encourage me to run my own pace instead of going out too fast, but I felt a bit sluggish. Roughly two thirds of the way through the course I was passed by a girl, and while I couldn’t quite keep pace with her, she didn’t completely pull away and I had someone to chase for the rest of the race. This really helped me to finish strong and was probably the closest thing I have had to feeling like I was in a real race since the pandemic started.
Rumor is that there will be another two dirt cheap races in October, but after the excitement of the past week I have officially given up on any long term planning.
2020 has been such a crazy year that dirt cheap races are apparently now happening on Friday nights. Anyways yesterday was the second dirt cheap of the year, this time at Mendon Ponds Park. As with the previous race this was structured as a time trial.
I finished the course in 47:27 which placed me into 22nd place for the second race in a row. However, with a slightly larger field this constitutes a slightly better finish. Despite the many races I have run a Mendon Ponds, this was a very different course than those I have run in the past so I don’t have anything to compare to.
Running solo (only passing walkers, and getting passed once in the final mile), I once again found it tricky to pace myself. No one on the course to compare myself to, and with an unfamiliar route no idea how close I was to the end, I never knew when to push or when to keep it steady. Meanwhile some extremely steep up and down sections forced me to walk here and there anyhow. To make things worse, I twisted my ankle about three miles in and was simultaneously scared of pushing it too hard, and scared of slowing to the point where it would swell up.
It looks like the next race is going to be back on a wednesday on September ninth (once again at Mendon Ponds). Although to be honest this year is leaving me a little timid about making plans for an event over two weeks away…
On Wednesday night I ran the first Dirt Cheap Trail Race of the year at Black Creek Park. This was my first race in over five months which I believe is the longest gap that I have had between races in the past decade.
As the first race that I have run in the middle of the pandemic a few things were a bit different. The race operated as a time trial with runners free to start at any point within a two hour window. With the starting times so spread out, and the field limited to those who (like me) signed up for the series back in March, it was a bit lonely on the course. I only saw five other runners the whole time, and (by definition) none of them were running at a similar pace to me. I understand that the race has to follow whatever the current state guidelines are, but I would have preferred to see a traditional race format. For a race through the woods with such a small field, everyone was going to spread out fairly quickly anyhow.
For the race itself, I finished the course in 47:20 which placed me as the 22nd fastest finisher, but was slower than 2019 and 2018. Perhaps I was slow because I lacked the energy and adrenaline of a standard race. Perhaps it was because I am out of shape after having an empty race calendar all summer. Or maybe the 85 degree heat, and that fact that I had been working outside all morning meant that I wasn’t going to put up a great time on this day even if this had been a normal year.
Overall I found this race format a bit uninspired. While I will complete this series (another race is scheduled for next friday), I don’t plan on going out of my way to sign up for many races until they start looking like races again.