Running with Eric

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A much shorter race

On friday night I ran St. Greg’s Great Race, a little 5k that is much shorter than most of the races that I have run this year. I finished the race in 24:21, finishing two seconds quicker than my last 5k, and 12 seconds faster than my last time at St. Greg’s.

Coming into the race I was unsure of how things would go because all of my training has been focused on marathons. In the first mile I was rather worried about how things were going, until I heard that my first mile split was 7:15 and I was actually running at a pretty good clip.

I slowed down a little in the final two miles, but overall I am still very happy about how the race went. Twenty-four minutes puts me very much in line with how my 5k races have gone the last few years, so it is nice to see that I can hit that pace even on a race that I decided to run last minute.

My next race will be back on the trails next week at the Webster Trail Classic.

A Marathon in the Adirondacks

On Sunday morning I ran the Lake Placid Marathon in the Adirondack mountains. I finished the race in 4:33:27, which is my fourth fastest marathon time. Given how hilly the course is, I was fairly happy with how I did and felt good in this race.

Weather for the race was overcast and cool with a slight rain, which was perfect for a marathon. The race had no pacers or clocks, and I run without a watch, so I had no idea what my pace was until I reached the finish line.

The first 5k runs through the town, and while it is downhill my split time of 27:47 means that I started a little quicker than I should have. Coming out of town was one of the bigger hills on the course, but I was still feeling good and went to my first out and back along river road. While not even a little bit flat, the river road section of the course is all rolling hills on a twisting and turning mountain road where no individual hill sticks out.

I ran back up the hill into town and reached the 14.3 mile turn around to begin the second loop at 2:20 which implies that I ran the first half of the race at exactly the pace that I wanted to.

At mile 17 the light rain turned into a bit of a downpour, which was annoying but didn’t really impact my race at all. By mile 19 the cumulative miles and hills had started to catch up to me and I really had to dig deep to keep going. There is a hill just before mile 24, and this was the only section of the course that I walked. The final half mile of the race is another uphill, but given how close I was to the finish I pushed through, and got to the end feeling pretty good about how the run went.

Between the Lake Placid and Buffalo marathons I had two races where I came out of the event feeling pretty good about how I did even if I fell just short of setting a PR. I don’t know when my next marathon will be, but my legs are feeling pretty good.

My next race will be the Webster Trail Classic later this month.

A run through the woods

On Tuesday night I ran the second Run Our Trails race of the year in Mendon Ponds Park. I ran for 52:33 to cover the four mile route.

With this race just two days after the marathon, the only reason I even ran is because I had signed up for the full series of races, so my expectations were pretty minimal. I found that I could do ok on the uphills, and on the flat sections I had no top speed but that almost doesn’t matter on trails. My main issue was with the downhill portions of the race where I had to short step everything and couldn’t really enjoy what were supposed to be the easier parts of the hilly course.

For my next race I am going back up in distance and running the Lake Placid Marathon on June 9th.

26.2 miles through Buffalo

On Sunday morning I ran the Buffalo Marathon for the ninth time. I finished the course is 4:20:41, missing my PR from last year by just two minutes.

Coming just shy of my time from last year was a disappointment, but this is still my second quickest marathon ever, and overall a fairly good morning of running.

I was a bit late getting to the start line, and consequently took an extra six minutes to begin the race. This ruined my plan of staying with the 4:10 pace group as they had presumably started four minutes ahead of me. Still I had a decent idea of how quick I wanted to run, and felt pretty good the first few miles.

I caught up to the 4:20 pace group near mile four and was conflicted if I actually wanted to catch the faster pace group. The plan was to run with them, but closing the deficit within the first half probably also would imply running a far quicker opening half than I had planned. While I never did quite catch up with them, I think I did run the first half very close to 2 hours, which is a quicker start than I had planned.

The weather for the race was a bit warmer than I would have liked, but was tempered by an overcast sky that made it a good day to run. The sun didn’t really come out until the final hour of the race, by which point I was on a more shaded part of the course.

By mile 15 I was starting to feel tired, and was worried that my time was going to be a bit slow, however by mile 19 my optimism had turned around and I was thinking I might be able to finish alright with holding onto slightly better final 10k than last year. In the end I split the difference, never slowing to a walk but also seeing my average speed come way down in the race’s final few miles.

This is the first marathon where I ran from start to finish, and while I am proud of that I just wish I had been three minutes quicker.

My next race is a low key trail race on tuesday night that I am not quite going to be recovered in time for.

10k on Letchworth’s hills

On Sunday morning I ran the Vale of Three Falls 10k in Letchworth State Park. I finished the hilly race in 54:02, just 8 seconds behind my time from last year.

The first mile and a half of this course was aggressively downhill and even steeper than I had remembered it. I was pretty fast through this portion, but then settled into a comfortable pace. I did ok through the rolling hills in the middle, and didn’t have to really push myself until the big hill just before the turnaround. On the way back I was starting to feel the miles adding up, but felt like my effort remained consistent. However, after coming so close to last year’s time I wished that I had pushed myself just a little bit more.

My next race is the Buffalo Marathon which has been my primary goal throughout the spring. After doing well in the marathon last spring, my plan is to repeat the same strategy and to stick with the 4:10 pace group all morning.

First Trail Race of the Year

On Tuesday night I ran the first Run Our Trails race of the year. I finished the three mile trail route in 28:23 which was good enough for 24th place.

While the rain let up before the start of the race, it had downpoured all afternoon the first mile of the trail was extremely muddy. The race had more elevation in the final two miles, but it almost came as a relief as it also meant I could get enough traction to actually take a full stride.

Overall it felt like an ok pace for a trail race. I hope to run on the trails one or two more times before my marathon at the end of the month.

Relay around Seneca Lake

On Sunday I ran as part of a relay to finish the 77.7 miles around Seneca Lake. This was a seven person relay around the lake, and the first relay I have done since the Ragnar ADK race nine years ago.

We finished the trip around the lake in 11:13:23, which was good enough for us to just slip into the top 100 teams.

I was the fifth runner on the team which meant that I had the longest to run, with of all of my legs totaling 13.5 miles throughout the day.

The first leg was 4.8 miles and almost all of it was straight up. While it was a beautiful day to run, and ultimately not all that far, I felt like I was going to be in trouble if the full day had as much elevation as the first leg did.

My second leg was a 10k and the longest of all 21 legs in the race. Knowing that it was going to be long, I made the decision to carry water and more or less run it at my marathon pace. This was a good idea, as I came out of this section feeling strong, even if I didn’t necessarily feel fast. However after looking at my time, my pace was almost exactly what I am looking to hold in next month’s marathon so it was a very successful run.

The final leg was 2.6 miles, however I had the misfortune of thinking that it was 2.0 miles and therefore went out a bit too fast. At the point I was mostly just looking to wrap up my run having already completed the vast majority of my miles.

Given that this was a relay race my goal was actually less on the finishing time, and more on getting to spend some time with the other runners on my team (and the other FBR team). It was a great community event, and one that I am hoping becomes an annual tradition.

My next race is the Run Our Trails three mile race at Mendon Ponds on Tuesday night, which will be my first trail race of the year.

Kicking off the 2024 Racing Season with the Running of the Green

On Saturday morning I rant the St. Patrick’s day themed Running of the Green, to kick of the 2024 racing season. I finished the five mile course in 41:18 and 414th place.

I was actually a little disappointed with this time given that I was a minute slower than last year, but I still was half a minute ahead of my last five mile race.

My training has felt good recently, even if it has been more focused on the marathon distance than on shorter races like this. Reflecting this training my pace throughout this run was fairly consistent, starting out at an eight minute pace and only slowing to an 8:16 average by the end.

Hopefully this is just the start of an exciting and fast 2024.

2024 Racing Calendar

With the racing season starting off this month, here is a preview of what I plan to be running in the coming year. As always, this is subject to change.

Running through 2023

2023 was a good year for running. I ran 18 races this year, three more than last year, and the most since the start of the pandemic. I ran two marathons, a large number of trail races, and half of these events were over 15 kilometers or longer.

The highlight of the year was obviously the Buffalo Marathon where I ran the distance in my quickest time ever and made a 13 minute improvement upon my PR.

I finally ran in the Boilermaker, but my favorite new race for the year was Many Lite in Letchworth. This was a great trail race with wonderful scenery at a fantastic distance.

Hopefully 2024 brings more of the same. I am already looking at running three marathons next year, so it is already shaping up to be a fast and busy year.

It’s a Wonderful Run

For the second year in a row, I ran the It’s a Wonderful Run 5k in Seneca Falls. I finished in 28:20, which is an ok time as this event is more of a party than a race.

The weather was very good for the race (and unseasonable warm for December), which actually left me a little disappointed that I was two minutes behind my time from last year. Perhaps running with a strand of Christmas lights around my neck made me less aerodynamic.

This was probably my last race of the year, hopefully I find something to run in January.

Trotting with the Turkeys

On Thanksgiving morning I ran the Turkey Trot for the 12th time, finishing the five mile course in 41:44. This was a little slower than I have ran this course in years past, but not too far off my typical pace.

The weather was fairly good this year, and with Brittany running alongside me, I felt pretty good for the first two miles. After that I began to slow down a little bit as I am apparently incapable of running anything quicker than my half marathon pace. Toward the end we were running into a rather significant headwind, but that was more annoying than something that was actively slowing me down.

My next race will be the It’s a Wonderful Run 5k in Seneca Falls in early December.

Three Trail Runs in Three Days

This weekend I ran the Dirt Cheap Stage race in Mendon Ponds Park. This event consists of three races over the course of three days, all running through the woods. Between some favorable weather, and my training going well I put up some quick times, completing each stage of the race quicker than every year I have run the event except for 2016.

The friday night race is really just a prelude to the rest of the weekend, but this 3 mile race is tougher (and longer) than your typical 5k. I finished in 36:53 which was a little bit quicker than last year. I got a little bit of a late start to the race which meant that it was starting to get dark by the second half of the race which put me at a little bit of a disadvantage. Still the weather was nice, I felt good, and I was able to move onto the next day of running.

On saturday morning I ran the second leg of the race in 48:39 which is my second fastest time for this leg in the seven years that I have run this race. I felt good running on the trails and fell into an easy pace. Despite this run being shorter than most of the trail races I have done recently I wasn’t really able to push myself into a quicker speed for the final mile and instead just benefited from my steady pace remaining steady.

On the final leg of the race I got off to a bit of a slow start as my legs felt a bit heavy. Knowing that I had done well the previous two days I wanted to keep going strong, but the many hills on the first 5 miles of the course were really starting to get to me. In the middle of the course it gets relatively flat for a mile or two, and I really found my legs in this stretch. I settled into a good pace, and felt solid for the rest of the run. I did my best to push hard to the finish, and completed the third leg in 1:55:04, a little over a minute and a half quicker than last year.

My next race is the Buffalo Turkey Trot which is the race that I have run more than any others over the years.

The shortest race of the year

On Saturday morning I ran the Scare Brain Cancer Away 5k in East Rochester. As a short 5k road race it was a pretty dramatic change from the 21 miles of trails I ran last weekend. I finished the 5k in 24:23 which is just 10 second slower than I was on the same course last year.

I have no idea on how to pace myself for these shorter races, so I decided to just take off at my top speed and hold onto that pace for as long as possible. I feel like I held onto that for around 1.8 miles before slowing down to something more comfortable for the final 1.3 to the finish line.

For my next race I will be returning to the trails for the Dirt Cheap Stage Race in November.

A long run through Letchworth

On sunday morning I ran Many Lite, a 21 mile race along the trails of Letchworth State Park. I completed the course in 4:26:24 as the 49th finisher, feeling far better than I did after running Wineglass two weeks ago.

The course was a real mix of environments, with some parts being steep technical trails, a few stretches of paved roads, some running through the woods, a number of gradual trails, a surprisingly large number of stairs, and everything in between. I enjoyed the variety of the route, but as I am less familiar with the west side of the park it left me without a clue as to how to pace myself. The weather was rainy and a little cold, but I find that preferable to running in the heat, and the trails drained very well so there was only a little bit of mud.

Coming off of a disappointing marathon I was slightly worried about this race. However by mile 15 even after all of the stairs and technical trails I was feeling far better than I did at the same point after running the paved route of the wineglass marathon. Overall it has become clear that the heat is by far a bigger obstacle for me than literal mountains as the 2400 feet of elevation did less to wear me down than a sunny day.

Twenty one miles is an odd distance to run because while it is a huge accomplishment on its own, I reached the finish line thinking it might be nice to run another five miles so I could tell everyone I had completed another marathon. At the same time, had this course been advertised as a marathon distance I highly doubt that I would have even registered for the event.

My next race will be much shorter as I will be running the Scare Brain Cancer Away 5k in East Rochester on saturday.

Wineglass Marathon

On Sunday morning I ran the Wineglass marathon in Corning. I finished with at time of 5:06:09 which makes it my slowest marathon since 2019.

With my limited training, and the expected high temperatures I knew it was unlikely that I would be able to best my PR time from Buffalo in May. Still I wanted to have a plan that would at least allow me to have a pretty decent run, so I planned to run with the 4:20 pace group. At the start of the run, things pretty much went to plan. I ran the first half of the race in 2:09:42 and stayed with the 4:20 pace setter all the way to mile 15.

By the eleventh mile I was hurting and knew that I wasn’t going to be able to stick with that pace all the way to mile twenty (let alone to the finish line), but without an alternative strategy decided to just keep up for as long as I could. While my training had been slightly lackluster, the real issue in this race with the sun and the heat. The course doesn’t offer too much shade and was about 30 degrees warmer than I would have liked.

After falling off the pace, I lost a minute or two to stop at a bathroom but pushed ahead with a decent run until mile 19. From there on it became a real struggle to drag myself to the finish line, and after mile 21 I had run out of water and began to become dehydrated.

My next race is going to be shorter (and hopefully in cooler weather).

A Half Marathon followed by Breadsticks

On sunday morning I ran the Unlimited Breadsticks Trail Half Marathon for the second year in a row. I finished the course in 2:27:35, which is 14 minutes quicker than last year. While it did rain some during the race, the ground stayed dry enough to allow me to keep a consistent pace.

Trail conditions were much improved from last year, so I had actually been hoping for a greater improvement to my time than what I got, but I suppose that my time isn’t bad for a trail half considering the hills and slightly long distance. Still it was an advantage in having done the race once before. It allowed me to have some idea of how much progress I had made, and when there was a large hill around the corner.

My next race is the Wineglass Marathon next sunday in Corning.

Another Trail Race

On tuesday night I ran the Run Our Trail race in Mendon Ponds Park. I finished the 4 mile race in 42:10 to finish 33rd overall.

The course was unique compared to my many previous runs in this park, but as with any run in Mendon Ponds none of it was flat. Despite the many hills, the two sections that slowed me down the most were actually a pair of very steep downhills that I couldn’t find a good way to traverse. The rain started at the same time as the race meaning that while the course was not too muddy, it was slick.

My previous five races have now all been on different days of the week.

Running a X-Country 5k

On Thursday night I ran a 5k Cross Country race at Cobbs Hill park. I finished with a time of 25:13 which was quick enough to secure 20th place. While this is not a fast overall time for a 5k, it is over three minutes quicker than I did on the same course last year.

When running a race this short it is always tempting to go at an all out 100% pace, but this course is hilly enough for that to be a mistake. Still with the opening mile mostly flat I felt like I got off to a quick start before slowing down on the long steep climb up the hill. After that the course has some fun trails, but given the distance there remains so much pressure to keep going quick. Overall a significant improvement from last year, so hopefully things keep going that way in the fall.

Running through Black Creek Park

On wednesday night I ran the Dirt Cheap Trail Race at Black Creek Park in Chili. I finished the course in 43:18 although given how different the course was from previous years, I don’t have much to compare that time to. Compared to the crowd I was rather fast, finishing 34th overall, and in the top 20 percentile.

While the course felt shorter than previous years it was a fun course, with lots of single track trails. While it was nice that most of the course was in the shade, it was still a very warm night to run. Still it was fun to get out there as this was my first mid-week race in a very long time.

Running the Boilermaker

On Sunday I ran the Boilermaker 15k in Utica for the first time. I finished in 1:23:28 which felt like a good pace even if it is a distance that I don’t get to run too often.

Running races two days in a row seemed a bit silly, but knowing that the Boilermaker had a bit of a reputation for being a party it was easy to go in without too many expectations. However the weather was favorable for a run, so once I got going I decided to really chase down the miles and put up a fast time.

The first mile was crowded as this is a race with thousands of runners, but that can be useful in preventing me from starting too fast. I had been warned about the hill at mile three (which kept going into mile four), but after running trails the day before it didn’t seem so bad.

The race had the largest number of water stops that I have ever seen. While it is unusual for me to take fluids on courses shorter than a half marathon, the frequent stops were useful for keeping down my core temperature as I would splash some water on my head and fill my pockets with ice.

Overall it was a very enjoyable race, and makes me think that I need to find more opportunities to run the 15k distance.

Half marathon through the woods

On saturday morning I ran the 0SPF trail half marathon for the second year in a row. I finished the race in 2:55:23 which is almost 15 minutes quicker than last year.

We had really good weather for the race, and I started off at what felt like a quick pace. While almost none of the course is flat, I was attacking the hills fairly well, and didn’t walk any of them until the two big ones right before the turn around.

I reached the half way point in 1:23:38, five minutes ahead of last year’s pace. The way back was harder as I was really feeling the hills, but overall my endurance is better than it was a year ago. The finish line snuck up on me, but I reached the end feeling good.

Fastest Marathon Ever

On Sunday morning I ran the Buffalo Marathon, and finished with the best time that I have ever had at the marathon distance. I finished in 4:18:40 which is 13 minutes quicker than my previous PR from way back in 2017. Additionally I was 37 minutes faster than on the same course last year, and 18 minutes quicker than Wineglass last fall.

Coming into race day I actually wasn’t all too confident. I felt like my training had gone better last fall, and my longest training run was only around 15 miles. However, my last few races had come back with surprisingly quick times that were showing year over year improvements. Having a good number of marathons under my belt (and this being my eighth time on this particular course), I at least knew that I would finish without it being a complete disaster.

My plan for the race was to stick with the 4:20 pace group, and this actually panned out for the first two miles. Then I stopped for a drink, lost sight of the pacer and started going a bit quick. At the 5k turn around I was at 29:52 and saw that I was already half way to the next faster pace group. I kept slowly passing people and reached the 10k mark in 58:44.

Around mile 9 I caught up to the 4:10 pace group and decided to stop pushing my luck and just stay with them for as long as I could. The fact that my legs felt good enough that I could have pushed ahead was an encouraging sign, but I knew it was best to save some energy for the second half of the race. I was still with this group by the half way point, so I finished the first half in 2:05.

At each water stop I was pausing to take fluids and then catching up to the pacer, and with how easily I was able to catch back up I knew that my legs (and lungs) were feeling good and by the time I was at mile 15 I knew that there was a real good possibility that I would be setting a PR that day. Traditionally mile 17 through Delaware Park has been one of the hardest stretches for me to run, but I got through this section feeling great, and even ran the small hill after the 30k mark which I am not sure I have ever done in the many times I have previously ran this course.

I reached the 30k mark at 2:56:13 and which had me still with the pace group (although technically on track for a 4:08 finish). After mile 20 though things started hurting, and coming out of the mile 21 water stop I no longer had the push to catch back up to the pacer.

The next four miles were the hardest part of the course for me as I slowed to a run/walk pace. I knew that I almost assuredly had a PR and was pushing the best that I could to finish as quickly as possible. It was easier than normal to not get demoralized over this stretch as I knew how well my run was going.

Just before making the final turn onto Delaware the 4:20 pacer caught up to me, which was close enough to the finish to have already secured the PR, but with just 1.3 miles to go (and much of it downhill) I wanted to try and stick with him until the finish. It started off pretty well, but I couldn’t quite keep up once the downhill flattened out in the final half mile. Still I didn’t walk at all during this final stretch and had enough differential with chip time to get a time under 4:20 anyhow.

I am absolutely thrilled to have done so well, and while I am not yet signed up for any races in June, I am really glad to be feeling fast again.

10k through Letchworth

On Sunday morning I ran the Vale of Three Falls 10k in Letchworth State Park. I finished the race in 53:54 which wouldn’t be a super fast time on a flat course, but with these hills it is something I am very happy with. This time is a course PR for me and an eight minute improvement over last year, and placed me 16th overall in the race.

Every time I run this race, I always forget how long the initial downhill is, as it goes for a full mile and a half for a very quick start (and a challenging finish). I felt ok throughout the first half of the race, and pushed up the turn around hill and ran the second half fairly steady.

The final climb to the finish was tough, but I found another runner to race against which helped push me to the finish. Unlike years in the past I completed the course without slowing to a walk (even when it might have made sense on the hills). While I didn’t feel particularly quick it is hard to argue with the results given the significant improvement from last year.

My next race is the Buffalo Marathon next sunday. My training feels a little behind, but I plan on going out with the 4:20 pace group and making the most of things.

Mendon Madness

On Sunday morning I ran the Medved Madness 13 mile trail race in Mendon Ponds Park. This was my first time running this race, and I finished the course in 2:14:41 which is not too bad of a pace for trails.

While it was my first time in this race, most of the trails in Mendon Ponds are very familiar to me. The start of the course was running a portion of the dirt cheap stage race in reverse, with the second mile having some of the worst mud on the whole course. We then started running through the east side of the park, which is more dry but also has some of the steepest hills.

At mile seven I was almost trampled by a herd of deer.

The southern portion of the course runs through the sections of Mendon Ponds that I am the least familiar with, and turned out to be relatively flat. While Mendon Ponds is always mud and hills, there turned out to be slightly less of both than I initially expected on this course.

My biggest mistake in this race was to not carry any water. This was starting to catch up with me on the final two miles of the race, but I managed to push through. I ran the whole course only walking the very steepest of the hills, and felt pretty good for what was my first trail race of the year.

My next race is the Vale of Three Falls 10k in Letchworth Park two weeks from now.