While it was warm in the sun, most of the course at Black Creek Park is thankfully in the shade. The course was dry, and more uphill than I remembered, but the wide trails were easy to run. I felt like I was getting passed a lot, but the improvement in my time from last year shows that it was actually a decent effort.
As usual I started the race too fast, but felt pretty good for the first part of the race. There was a bit of mud, but after seeing these same trails in much worst conditions at Sehgahunda they didn’t bother me too much. While I did walk the occasional hill here and there, unlike my last race at Bristol Mountain the course was runable, and with plenty of tree cover to keep me in the shade.
I fell three times on this course (which is once more than last year, and three times as much as at Sehgahunda). The first tumble didn’t do too much damage, but after the second fall near the 10 mile mark I really lost the pace. Then I went down a third time just a quarter mile from the finish which was a tad bit annoying as I was ready to be done.
My next race is going to be my fourth straight trail race as I will be running the Dirt Cheap at Black Creek Park on Wednesday night.
The race was extremely hot from the start. Even on the first climb it seemed unlikely that I would be as quick as the previous years. Still the first two climbs and the first two downhills went smoothly. The third hill has always been the steepest, and it was difficult as always but I was expecting it and it came as no surprise.
I realized I was drinking water quicker than usual, but my legs still felt good and I even passed a few people on the course’s lone flat mile. The third downhill that gave me so many problems my first time on this course went without incident. In fact I made it through the whole course this year without falling at all.
On paper the fourth climb is the most difficult one, but in years past it hasn’t bothered me all that much. However this year it proved to be as difficult as it looks to be. Perhaps it was the heat, maybe it was because the grass has grown in on this hill. I found a walking stick to help me hike this one, and by the time I reached the top it was drenched in sweat.
I have never really liked the fourth downhill, but it was on the final uphill of the course that my race fell apart. Up to this point I was already 10-15 minutes behind my pace from last year, but still moving ok, however at this point the sun and temperature caught up to me. My body was overheating and the course didn’t have enough shade to recover. I pushed a little bit on the downhill to finish the lap at 3:54.
With my time out the window, and simply pushing on to avoid the DNF I walked the 5k lap and even stopped to rest a time or two. This gave me a second lap of 2:07 which was a full hour slower than last year.
Webster Park is one of my favorite places to run. While it was scortchingly hot out, at least the majority of the course was under tree cover and away from the direct sun. My pace felt steady, and I ran most of the hills leaving me feeling better about this race than my last couple.
This race is always far too hot, and this year was probably worse than normal. I ran the first mile in 8:04 at which point I realized that my hope of a sub-50 time wasn’t going to happen. After the second mile, any thought of going fast had mostly faded away, and I slowed down to a long distance pace. In fact my first two 10ks in the Buffalo Marathon were pretty close to what I ran here.
I finished the first 5k in a bit over 27 minutes, and even stopped for water once or twice on the way back. I kept things slow and steady until I was approaching the finish line.
My next race is the Dirt Cheap race in Webster Park next Wednesday.
Saturday Morning I went to Seneca Park to run my first 5k race of the year. I finished in 24:33 which was fast enough for 16th overall, and 3rd in my age group. The time was quicker than I was last June, but a bit behind my time from last fall.
The Javier Ortiz Memorial 5K consists of three increasingly smaller loops in Seneca Park. Things started out pretty well, finishing the first mile in a speedy 7:11 but halfway through the race I realized that I was unable to keep up that pace and had to slow down a bit. I typically have trouble speeding up for these shorter races so having any splits below 7:30 feels pretty good. And my average pace remained below an eight minute mile.
My next race is also a short road race as I will be running the Lancaster 4th of July 10k.
The early part of the trail was severely flooded, which was a surprise as the weather has been fairly nice recently. Fortunately most of the trail was in pretty good shape. This course has a lot more steep climbs then most of the other dirt cheap races, and they wore me out a bit. After finishing Sehgahunda you would think I would be immune to a bit of climbing, but maybe the longer trail races are just getting me out of the habit of attacking any of the climbs.
My next race will be the SSGT Javier Ortiz Memorial 5k in Seneca Park.
The course was extremely foggy at the start, which was great weather for a run. However, my foot was still hurting a bit from last week and I was somewhat concerned that I hadn’t had enough time to recover. The foot turned out to be fine, but the overall fatigue ended up doing me in.
My plan was to try and stay with the 4:20 pace group, as that strategy worked well in the Wineglass marathon. I started a bit back in the corral, caught up to the pacer, and then lost sight of him around mile two and did my best to keep things slow and even. I ran the first 5k in 29:36, and the second 5k in 30:20. Both of which were a bit faster than I had planned.
Still I was feeling good, and my next 5k was actually my fastest of the day at 29:27. With the sun nowhere to be found, and the course enveloped in a mist I was really confident in my run. Around mile 11 the pacer caught up to me and I pushed myself to keep up. Crossing the 20k mat it was clear that I ran a negative split over the first half, and that the pace was a bit off. The fourth 5k was in 30:15 for an opening 20k just under two hours.
I crossed the half way point in about 2:06, and given that it was apparent that the pacers were way to fast and not slowing down I decided to fall behind them at mile 14. By the 25k mark (15.5 miles) I was still on track for a sub 4:20 finish, but the sun had come out and the course was getting warm.
By mile 17 I was really hurting, however knowing how little shade was available within Delaware Park, I knew it was a poor part of the course to take too much of a rest and pushed through to the 30k mark before really slowing down. I finished the first 30k in 3:07 and was technically still on track for a really good time, however I knew that I wasn’t feeling great and that the final 12.2k was going to be ruff.
I really slowed down a lot over the end of the course falling back to a run walk pace, and eventually getting passed by the 4:30 pace group near mile 21. Overall I felt my effort was pretty consistent over the last few miles, it just wasn’t that fast. I am not sure if I was undertrained, still beatup from last week, or hurting from starting too fast. Overall my 4:42 time was the third fastest of my five completions of this course. And next weekend I am not running a marathon.
On Saturday I ran the Sehgahunda trail marathon through the hills (and mud) of Letchworth State Park. I finished the race with a time of 6:46:04 good enough for 152nd place. The was my first marathon on trails, and while I expected plenty of climbing, the mud turned out to be the bigger obstacle.
The run started off well enough, and was uneventful for the first mile. The mud started in mile two, and by mile three had a few sections where the mud was so bad it was better off to walk. I ran some of these same trails in Dam Good race last summer when the trails were in much better condition. Around mile five I tripped and fell. Inexplicably, the area where I fell was perfectly dry and I managed to stay upright the rest of the day despite much more difficult terrain ahead.
Turning off of the main trail to go to the checkpoints was the most difficult part of the course. The first two checkpoints were steadily uphill, and while not all that steep, the mud was thick enough that they were impossible to run. In fact even on the way down many of these sections had to be (carefully) walked. Being unable to run a gradual downhill hints at how bad this mud truly was. I reached the first checkpoint (6.1 miles) in 1:15 and the second checkpoint (8.6 miles) in 1:53.
As the longest section between checkpoints the 6.8 miles between two and three looked on the map to be the most difficult section. Instead it turned out to be the nicest part of the course. There were a few steep hills, but the mud in this area was minimal, and the trail was largely runnable. After another muddy climb to the checkpoint I reached 15.4 miles in about three and a half hours.
The run to the next checkpoint was short, but the downside of that is that a greater percentage of time was being spent on the muddy climbs to the checkpoints and less on the main trail. Around mile 18 was the steepest section of the main trail as this section had a mile and a half the mostly went straight down and straight back up.
The climb to checkpoint six at mile 21 was probably the steepest part of the course. It wasn’t quite as muddy as the other checkpoints, but the long climb combined with the fact that I was tired from running so far made it challenging.
The final three miles consisted of one mile of dirt road, followed by two miles of a flat path. These really should have been a section to push the pace now free from the mud and technical terrain of the previous 23 miles. Unfortunately I had already been on the course for over six hours at the point, and didn’t really have anything left in my legs and had to run/walk my way to the finish.
Next week I will be running the Buffalo Marathon where the will be no mud, and the biggest hill will be a highway overpass. Hopefully my legs can recover in time.
On wednesday night I went up to Durand-Eastman park to run in the monthly Dirt Cheap trail race. I finished the race in 43:05 quicker than all but one of the past four years. Three minutes quicker than last year, and less then a minute behind my PR.
The race started out pretty steady, and the early trails were in good shape. I didn’t fall at all, but the middle section included some sections where I needed to slow down to avoid sliding off the side of the trail. I walked one of the steeper hills in the middle, but pushed on the final two two climbs to get a good finish.
My next trail race will be a but longer as I head down to Letchworth to run 26.3 miles at Sehgahunda.
The race started out well enough, sticking with the 1:50 pace group through the opening five and a half miles. I passed the half way mark at 56 minutes, on track for a two minute improvement over last week. Things started to slow down around mile nine, although I didn’t realize how bad things had gotten until the two hour pace leader caught up half a mile from the finish. (Ultimately I pulled ahead of him, but he was a minute off pace.)
I had a similar problem running this race two years ago in that I was inexplicably slower than I had been the previous weekend at Flower City. And this is despite the flatter Grand Island course being a theoretically easier place to run.
I have a quick turn around for my next race as the Dirt Cheap Trail Series is running in Durand Eastman Park on Wednesday night.
On Sunday morning I ran the Flower City Half Marathon for the fifth year in a row. I finished the run in 1:54:25 and in the top 30 percentile. On one hand I am genuinely disappointed to have not finished in under 1:50 (as I did in 2017), but at the same time this race was not a complete disaster. I was over 15 minutes quicker than last year, and a minute quicker than the Rochester Half last fall.
The weather was rainy, and I was a bit slow to get to the starting line. This forced me to start out a bit slow for the first half mile which was probably a good thing, given my tendency to go out too fast. By the first mile I had passed the 1:50 pace group and was pushing to catch up to the 1:45 group. I finished the first 5k in 25:20 and while I was still feeling strong at this point I also realized that I was no longer making progress on catching the group ahead of me.
The 1:50 pace group passed me just past mile five, and I finished the first 10k with a time of 52:36, which felt good but I realized that I was not going to PR in this race. The third quarter of the race contains the biggest hill on the course and (as with most years) was my slowest section. I didn’t feel bad, but my pace felt a bit off through the cemetery. Once I reached the river at mile 10.5ish I started feeling better about the run and finished well. My pace after the final checkpoint was equal to that of the 5k to 10k section.
I will get another chance at the half marathon very soon as my next race is the Grand Island Half this Saturday.
On Wednesday night I was back to Mendon Ponds running the Dirt Cheap trail race. This was my fifth year running this race, so I am pretty familiar with the course by now. The weather on race day was great, but it had rained earlier in the week so the second half of the course was deep with mud.
I finished in 50:14, which while a bit behind my time from 2017, was still far quicker than last year. Overall I felt pretty good. I walked a few of the steeper climbs, but made steady progress through the muddy sections. This was promising given how little of my training has been on trails this year.
My next race will be back on the roads, at the Flower City half marathon.
My yearly plans call for 20 or more races, so it is about time that I at least get some of them onto a calendar. A lot of the fall is still uncertain, and I am sure that I will run a race on at least one weekend in June, but here is what I am planning on running so far…
- March 16th – Running Of the Green
- April 17th – Dirt Cheap Trail Race
- April 28th – Flower City Half
- May 5th – Grand Island Half
- May 8th – Dirt Cheap Trail Race
- May 18th – Sehgahunda Trail Marathon
- May 26th – Buffalo Marathon
- June 4th – Rochester Corporate Challenge
- June 12th – Dirt Cheap Trail Race
- July 4th – Lancaster 4th of July 10k
- July 10th – Dirt Cheap Trail Race
- July 27th – Battle at Bristol Half Marathon
- August 14th – Dirt Cheap Trail Race
- September 4th – Dirt Cheap Trail Race
- September 22nd – Rochester
- October 6th – Wineglass
- October 12th – Can Lake
- November 8th-10th – Dirt Cheap Stage Race
- November 28th – Buffalo Turkey Trot
The race had pace leaders this year, and while I wanted to run eight minute miles, that felt like starting far too close to the front. Inevitably I ended up catching up him by the first mile anyhow. I fell back from this pace before the turnaround, but I still felt good with my speed overall. The run felt pretty consistent and was a finish time I was ok with given my limited winter training.
On Wednesday night I returned to Webster Park to run my second Snow Cheap race of the year. I finished in 30:51 which was a bit quicker than my time from January which I think was the same course but in the opposite direction.
The hallmark of this race was the snow and ice. The weather had calmed down by the time the race started, but for those of us without metal spikes in our shoes our top speed was pretty limited. I slipped twice during the race, and had to walk a few of the inclines just to avoid sliding down.
Webster Park is one of my favorite places to run and hopefully I can get back there again after all the snow has melted.
Wednesday night I ran my first race of the year in Webster Park. While advertised as a snow race, everything had melted resulting in a run through the mud (and the dark). I finished the three and a halfish mile race in 34:27.
It has been almost 4 months since my last trail race so it was nice to be running through the woods again even if I couldn’t quite see where I was going. I did split my head open after failing to duck a branch, but what slowed me down the most was the mud. It was hard to find traction, and often dark enough that you wouldn’t see the pits you were running into in time to avoid them.
No plans yet for my next race, but I am hoping to run at least 20 in 2019.
With the year coming to a close it is time to look over the past year of running. I ran 23 races this year so my racing miles remained high even as it felt that my training miles were lower than in years past. I completed a few new races this year including a 25k, a 14 mile trail race, a taco eating race, and a duathlon. I didn’t set any personal records at the standard distances, but I did improve upon previous years on the trails at Mendon Ponds and Bristol Mountain.
So far the only race on my 2019 calendar is the Buffalo Marathon, but I am sure that there will be plenty more…
This was my first time running this race, but the course goes through downtown and is kindof similar to the St. Patrick’s Day race so I was familiar with the course. The weather was really great for December although there was a little bit of ice on the trail just past the half way point.
Overall, I feel like I am still not quite suited for the 5k distance. I can’t really push myself to be all that much faster than my half marathon pace. Or maybe I felt off because I ran the race wearing reindeer antlers. I’ve never done that before.
With a race time temperature of just 16 degrees, I believe that this is the coldest the race has ever been since I started running it. The race also got off to a late start, which only increased the amount of time we had to stand around in the cold. Once the gun finally did go off, I still took over six minutes to reach the starting line which also made the run more difficult.
This race has always had a large number of people who have no idea what they are doing, but getting stuck starting so far back only increased the number of walkers and oblivious runners that I had to deal with. As such I could barely run the first mile, and I was still ducking and weaving around all the way to mile three, at which point the race is already more than half over. Once I finally had a little room to run, my feet went numb from the cold, so I never really got a chance to push the pace anywhere on this course. Maybe next year the weather will be nicer, and I will have the opportunity to push for a better time.
Sunday morning I returned to my alma mater to run the Brick City 5k at RIT. I finished the run in 23:36 which was a little slower than I had hoped for, but my quickest 5k in a long while. I was a minute and a half quicker than I ran the Airport 5k earlier this year, and about the same time ahead of my finish on this same course last year.
I have really not gotten used to the quicker pace of these shorter races. I started out trying to keep up with the front runners, but that only lasted about half a mile. After that I just tried my best and pushed a bit to pass a few runners at the end.
On Saturday I ran the inaugural CanLake25k and finished in 2:32:48 quick enough for fourth place. The previous three years I ran the 50k, but after not feeling great after Wineglass I decided to drop down to the new shorter distance.
In order to share the course with the ultramarathoners the race had an odd 1:00 start which was fortuitous as it allowed me to miss the early morning rain. I wanted to treat the race like a half marathon and really go after it, but instead mostly kept to a comfortable pace.
I felt good off the start. No part of this course is flat, but there was a certain joy in being able to take in a course I know well at a quicker pace. I felt a bit guilty passing the 50k runners with my fresh legs, but honestly without them on the course at the same time it would have been a bit quiet.
Bare Hill is the largest climb on the course. While reaching the hill after 30km it was an obvious place to walk, but after just 5k I felt that running up the hill would be a good plan. About a third of the way up I realized that I was draining myself for no reason and that it would be best to just power walk to the summit and move on from there. It really is a bear.
My 9:50 per mile pace was a minute slower than I ran the rochester half, so I probably should have gone a bit quicker, but the miles flew by compared to seeing the same landmarks when running the 50k in years past. Given the shorter distance and the fact that there were some water stops along the way I decided not to carry any water. Still not sure if that was the right decision or not.
I finally got passed about two miles from the finish. For a little while I kept up the idea of fighting for that position, but he had pulled a bit ahead of me before the final downhill and I didn’t have any sprint left in me anyhow.
My next race will be the Brick City 5k at my alma mater of RIT.
On Sunday I ran the Wineglass Marathon from Bath to Cornell. I finished in 4:38:12 and while this was slightly slower than I was hoping for, it was only six minutes off from my PR. Despite things not going well in the final 10k, it was actually a fairly good time a quite a bit quicker than my marathon from earlier in the year.
The day before the race the forecast called for no rain. An hour before the race the forecast said that the rain would stop soon. Instead it rained all day long. Normally I like to run in colder temperatures, but combined with the rain it was very cold at the start and never really got significantly better. However for a marathon I guess being too cold is better than being too warm.
I started the race with the 4:20 pace group, and the first mile felt really easy. I did a good job staying with the group and hit the 10k mark just under 62 minutes. By mile nine I was feeling good and pulled ahead of the pace group a bit and would stay ahead of the pace group until mile 18.
I reached the half way point in 2:09:34 still feeling good, but also realizing that this course wasn’t as downhill as promised. While far short of the hills on the Rochester marathon course, Wineglass includes a fair number of rolling hills that keep the course from really being all that much easier than a flatish marathon like Buffalo.
By mile 17 I was starting to feel tired and knew that eventually I would have to slow down a bit. I maintained pace for a sub 4:20 marathon up until the 30k point and then backed off a bit. I started walking a little after 20 miles, but by the 35k mark I was still on pace for a 4:28 finish. Unfortunately I just couldn’t quite keep that up and ultimately crossed the line in 4:38.
Still there were some good things to take away from this race. My pacing through the first 30k was strong and steady, and a pace that I would be comfortable staying at for my next marathon. Also my time of 2:28 for the second half is actually the quickest I have ever ran the back half, and therefore this was also the closest that I have ever come to having even splits at this distance.
The first Half-Marathon I ever ran was the Rochester Half, way back in 2013. I have ran the full marathon every year since then, but this year returned to the half. The course has changed since the last time I ran the half to include a lot more hills, but I was excited to attack a course that had required me to pace myself for the full distance.
I ran the half in 1:55:33 which is about seven minutes back from a PR, but much better than I did in the Flower City Half this spring. Overall I finished in 281st place which places me just outside the top 20 percentile of finishers.
My plan was to begin the race on pace for a 1:50 finish, knowing that the hills would slow me down later on. I felt surprisingly good at the start and ran the first 5k in 25:13 which put me on place for a 1:46 PR had I been able to keep it up. (And only six seconds behind my finish at the Airport 5k).
The first two hills went ok. Knowing that I didn’t have a second lap coming this year allowed me to confidently attack the uphill portions without having to worry about wearing myself too thin. I crossed the 10k mat in 52 minutes, ironically four minutes ahead of my time from 4th of July.
The second half of the race I continued to slow down a bit, but mostly kept moving. At the final big hill, I walked a bit to drink some gatorade, but ran up the rest of it, which had always been unthinkable when running the full distance. I didn’t have any real kick left for the end, but overall I was pretty happy with my time. This was easily the best performance that I have had at a road race in 2018.
Next week I am running the Wineglass Marathon from Bath to Corning.
I finished the race in 51:35 which is a PR for this course, coming in 23 seconds quicker than last year, and five seconds quicker than 2016. Overall I finished in 67th place, although my slightly quicker time was probably mostly due to the maintenance that has reduced the mud on some of these trails.
This race was extremely warm, and despite being a 6pm start in September, was very possibly the warmest race that I have ran in all year. Perhaps even warmer than 4th of July. Still it was an enjoyable run with the trails in better conditions than years past, and the first trail run in a while in which I didn’t trip and fall. I handled the hills fairly well, although I did walk some of the steeper ones.
This will be my last race until the Rochester Half-Marathon, and Wineglass Full-Marathon at the end of September.