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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On Sunday morning I ran the Flower City Half Marathon for the eighth time. This year I finished with a time of 1:55:34 which is my best time in this distance since 2018.
I felt pretty good at the start of the race, and kept my starting pace for the first four miles. There were no pace groups or split times this year, so I didn’t have much to go off of, but it felt fairly quick. While I slowed down a little after that I kept moving well, and didn’t significantly slow down once I reached the hills at the course’s half way point. Once I got to mile eight, I knew that the trickiest bits of the course were behind me and at the very least the run wasn’t going to fall apart. By mile eleven my legs were starting to burn, but I was close enough to the finish that I knew I could push through.
My next races will not be until May, leading up to the Buffalo Marathon at the end of the month.
On Saturday morning I ran the 5 mile Running of the Green in 40:06. This was slightly slower than my five mile race in January, but this was still a time that I was happy with as it was over seven minutes quicker than the same race last year.
I ran the first mile of this race in 7:30, but had slowed down to an 8 min/mile average by the time I reached mile four. I then really pushed to hold onto the eight minute pace leader for the final mile and to finish with an 8:01 overall pace. The course had gotten a lot of snow the night before, but was melted just enough to not really impact my run. Hopefully this is my last race in the snow until after Thanksgiving.
With the yearly racing schedule kicking off this weekend with the Running of the Green, here is a look at my initial plans for a race calendar this year. My actual schedule feels uncertain as ever, but here is a look at where things stand today.
On Saturday Morning I ran the Freezeroo 5 mile race in Victor. I finished the race in 38:19 which is a full minute quicker than I ran the same distance at the Turkey Trot two months ago.
The first quarter mile of the race was mostly ice, which resulted in me getting off to a slow and cautious start. However, the course cleared up after that with some hills making the opening mile by far the most challenging of the course. By the midpoint of the race I had settled into an easy pace, and while I spent the final mile pushing to do my best, I was honestly surprised that my time was as good as it was.
My next race will not be until after I get back from Grand Cayman.
I ran 15 races this year, and while that is still significantly short of what I was running before the pandemic, it is almost as much as the past two years combined. I ran multiplemarathons this year for the first time since 2019, and ran a number of new and interesting courses.
Of the six trail runs that I did this year, five of them were 10+ miles, and four of them were courses that I have never ran before.
On Saturday I ran the It’s A Wonderful Run 5k in Bedford Falls Seneca Falls. This was my first time doing this Christmas themed run.
I completed the course in 25:42 which considering all the stops that were made to take shots of fireball is actually a pretty quick time. Given the crowds and the weather it probably would have been tricky to challenge my time from October, so this race turning into a drinking event was probably the right call.
This is almost certainly my last race of the year, and perhaps even the last race until St. Patrick’s Day.
On Thanksgiving morning I ran the Buffalo Turkey Trot for the first time since 2019. I finished the five mile course in 39:21 which is my fastest time on this course since my PR in 2015, which was only a minute quicker.
This was my 11th time running in what is the country’s oldest race so I know the course well. Yet it is always hard to find your pace when there are constantly slower runners ahead of you, and faster runners behind you. Still things went really well with my per mile pace only 4 seconds slower than the shorter 5k I ran a month ago.
This weekend the Dirt Cheap Trail Race Series had me running the trails of Mendon Ponds three days in a row. This was my sixth time running this three day event, and the second fastest that I have been.
The friday 5k has always been more of a warm-up for the rest of the weekend rather than I race I really push myself on, and this year wasn’t any different. I finished in a slightly disappointing 37 minutes which feels slow even for trails. The friday portion of the race either got moved to earlier in the day, or to before daylight savings time because it was actually bright out at the start. Given the staggered start format most runners started (and often even finished) before I got going so the trail felt a little quiet at times. Still I got this stage completed, and still managed to finish in the top half of the field.
On day two I ran the 5.5 mile course in 51:04 a significantly quicker pace than the night before. In many ways this was the driest, most ideal conditions that I have ever seen for Mendon Ponds, and that helped contribute to my quick run, but I also improved relative to the field with a finish in the top third.
By sunday morning an overnight storm had taken away the mercifully dry and mud free trails from the day before, but I actually had my best run of the weekend. I finished the 11 mile trail run in 1:56:47, coming in under two hours for just the second time out of all my years running this race.
I felt like I got off to a steady pace for sunday’s run. The first section probably has the most elevation, and while free of mud it wasn’t as dry as it normally is. I found myself going back and forth with a lot of runners through here as we had different strengths going up or down the hills. The Northern section of the run is as flat as this course gets, and while I tried to be fast here I actually felt like I was falling behind the other runners. The final portion of the run brings back the hills, and I slipped and cut open my knee on one of the steeper downhills. This didn’t actually slow me down that much, and I found myself really trying to push the pace again on the final mile of the course.
This was probably my final trail race of the year, and my next race will be my long awaited return to the Buffalo Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving.
On Saturday morning I ran the Scare Brain Cancer Away 5K in East Rochester. I finished the race in 24:12 which is my fastest 5k time in over four years. This quick time placed me 54th out of 433 runners in the race.
The decision to run this race was made at the last minute, but the course is flat and the weather was great. I ran the first mile in 7:30 which felt surprisingly good for how few short races I have run recently. The next two miles were close to the same pace with mile 2 at 7:59 and final 1.1 miles at a 7:55/mile equivelent. It felt really good to put up a solid time at a distance that I don’t really train for.
On Sunday morning I ran the Wineglass Marathon in Corning. I finished the race in 4:37:11 which was slower than I wanted, but quicker than my time in Buffalo earlier this year and also slightly quicker than my time on the same course in 2018. To the best of my knowledge, this was my second quickest marathon ever, but I had felt like my training had gone well and the weather was great so my expectations were for something better.
As with most my races I started way too fast. The original plan was to run with the 4:20 pace group, but that group didn’t exist so instead I started with the 4:15 group. (And after just a single mile pushed on to a quicker pace.) I ran the first 10k in a rather quick 58:23, and then held steady at that pace to finish the first half in 2:03.
At this point I was feeling great, but things started to fall apart at mile 15. My pace was gone and I started to get passed by more runners with the 4:15 pace group finally catching back up to me just past mile 18.
At mile 20 I hit the wall hard and reduced to a run/walk pace for the final few miles. I managed to hold off the 4:30 pace runner until just before mile 24 after which I lost some of my motivation over the final two miles. In hindsight it wasn’t actually as bad of a run as it felt at the time, but I will probably have to extend my long runs if I want to do better in the future.
On Sunday morning I ran the Unlimited Breadsticks Half Marathon along the Seneca Trail in Victor. I finished the race in 2:41:55 which was a little slow, but my time was limited more by the trail conditions than my training.
A light rain began just before the race, and while the water in the air didn’t bother me the water on the trail was a real problem. I usually love my toe shoes, but they have very little traction and turned into a real liability in this race. While I only went down hard once, I was slipping and sliding for the first nine miles of the course. With my speed being limited not by my lungs or my legs, but rather my my traction I feel that I easily could have taken 15 minutes off of my time had the trail simply been drier. Trails opening up to grassy fields are typically my least favorite sections of a trail run, but in this race they were my one chance to actually run on this course.
Around mile nine there was a half mile of gravel path that I practically sprinted to try and make up time, but of course races don’t quite work like that. The final few miles were not as muddy, but I was still being cautious and only able to get up to full speed on occasional sections.
Overall though, my time was still over 15 minutes quicker than the 0SPF race, and I would love to get the opportunity to explore these trails again when the conditions are better.
My next race is the Wineglass Marathon which will thankfully be free of mud. I feel that my training is in good shape heading into this race and that I have a real chance of getting a Marathon PR for the first time in years.
Despite this being only the second time I have run this race, it is one of my favorite courses. The terrain and the trail vary between the three parks, and while there is plenty of elevation none of the hills are so steep that you are forced to slow to a walk. Additionally the course is mostly shaded, and (while perhaps I have mostly gotten lucky with the weather) there is very little mud.
At the start of the race I found myself towards the front, and was a bit concerned that I had started too fast. I settled into a comfortable pace, and while a few runners did pass me in the first four miles it turns out that I was actually was just faster than most of the field. Most of the miles were uneventful as I enjoyed the scenery while only occasionally gaining on or falling behind the other runners. With less than a mile to go I decided to pick up the pace, but instead kicked a root and fell on my face. I pushed on for a quick finish, but that was the one thing that really held it back from being a great race.
Overall I am glad to see the improvement from 2019, I felt good while on the trail, and I even felt good after the race as if my legs easily had more miles in them. Hopefully I can continue to run well as the Wineglass Marathon is less than a month away.
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.