Running with Eric

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Author: Eric (page 1 of 6)

Finally running a real race

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.

Running among protests and pandemics

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.

Running the hills of Mendon

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…

First Race in Five Months

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.

Many loops in the park

On Saturday Morning I ran the Last Runner Standing race in Basil Marella Park. This race consists of a simple one mile trail loop and an ever decreasing time limit to run the loop each lap. I had never run a race like this before, and additionally I had never been to this park and the weather was unclear, so I had a lot of uncertainty going into this event.

For the first loop we had 20 minutes, but I decided to take the course at a slow and steady jog to see what the course was like and get a baseline for my pace. I finished the first mile in an easy 10:30, and then decided to relax and walk the next three laps. Down to a 16 minute time limit (and honestly feeling restless after not running for the past hour) I began a system of running two thirds of the loop, and then walking to the finish line. This gave me a roughly 12 minute lap time, so I repeated this for the next two laps.

Now down to a 13 minute time limit I finally had to actually run and while attempting to repeat the casual pace of my first lap, I instead ran a 9:40 which turned out to be my quickest loop all day. I eased up a little for the next two miles, but essentially kept the same pace.

For the eleventh mile the per lap time limit was down to ten minutes, and it was clear that I was falling behind the pack from the very start. Still I tried to stay positive and push through knowing that I only had to match the same pace as before. Unfortunately time ran out shortly after I rounded the final corner and I was eliminated from the race. This was extra frustrating given that I had been below ten the previous three laps when I had more time.

Still this was the longest I had run since November (even discounting the miles I walked) and a reminder that I need to get back into shape. I guess that I will be going out at a slow pace at the Runnin’ of the Green next Saturday.

An Early Year Trail Run

On wednesday night I started the year with a mid-January trail race at Mendon Ponds. Although billed as part of the ‘Snow Cheap’ series, some unseasonably warm weather took away any elements of ice and snow, and left us instead with a mud run in the dark.

I finished the course in 30:11 which was quick enough for a 64th place finish.

Ironically the weather was much nicer than my last race at this park in mid-November. Perhaps my next race will be a proper run in the snow.

Running through 2019

I ran 23 races in 2019 including three marathons. The race I am most proud of running was Sehgahunda, as it is a race that I had been considering running for a number of years before finally completing it this spring. I don’t think that I had any distance PR’s this year, but most of my results were still faster than I was in 2018. Here in winter it has been a full month since my last race, but 2020 should be full of plenty of running…

10th Year at the Turkey Trot

On Thanksgiving I ran the Buffalo Turkey Trot for the tenth time. The race started in 1896 so I have only ran in 8% of these events, but that is more times than I have ran any other race.

I finished the 5 miles in 40:37 which was a minute and a half quicker than last year, and only two minutes behind my PR from 2015 (and 18 minutes quicker than my first time on this course).

This race is always a mess of people that have no idea what they are doing and this year was no different. I started as close to the front as I could and still ended up starting behind a guy carrying a canoe and hundreds of walkers. However, once I got going the run wasn’t too bad. It was cold, but far nicer than last year, and inexplicably at the finish line they gave everyone a loaf of bread.

A Three Race Weekend

Over the weekend I ran the Dirt Cheap Stage Race, which consists of three trail runs over the course of three days. My total time over the event was 3:33:05 which is quicker than 2017, but slower than my times from 2016 and 2015.

Stage one of the race is a short night run which is the least interesting of the events in this race. Temperatures were colder than expected, and I made the decision to continue wearing my warm-up gear during the race. By mile three I really felt overdressed, but it was probably the right decision. To keep my feet warm I wore an old pair of shoes that were clunky and didn’t have much traction. Between the footwear, the snow, and the dark it was a miracle that I remained upright through the whole race. I finished the first stage in a pedestrian 39:53.

The next morning for stage two it was still cold, but the sunlight made a world of difference. I finished the fiveish miles in 52:17 which was four minutes quicker than I was when running in similar conditions in 2017. However it was behind my pace from the other two years, and slower than I was on a near identical course earlier in the year.

My biggest problem on the second stage was my sneakers. For some reason I used the same old pair I ran the first stage in, and the age of the glue combined with the moisture of the snow lead to some of the traction falling off before the race even began. Throughout the whole race I felt the shoes crumbling beneath my feet, and half a mile from the finish I lost the sole of my left shoe completely. Despite all this, I don’t think it actually effected my race all that much. I only had to make major adjustments on a single downhill, and me getting winded on the hills had more to do with not running any trail races since September.

Sunday morning brought better weather (and proper shoes) and I put in a much better run. I finished in 2:00:55 which is ten minutes quicker than my last time on this course, and just eight seconds behind my time from 2015.

For some reason the first 4.5 miles were the trickiest part of this race for me. The race starts on the east side of the park which is relatively dry, but also very much not flat. I was walking the steeper uphills from very early on, and knowing that I wasn’t even half way done had me leaving this section a bit concerned. The next two miles of this race in the northern part of the park are mostly flat, and while I was too tired to really attack the course, I felt that I ran solid through here. The second half of the course wasn’t particularly fast, but was less worrisome and never felt slow. The trail flattens out again for the final mile, and that was easily the best mile that I ran all weekend. I felt pretty good at the finish, and in hindsight probably should have started pushing the pace a mile or two sooner.

I felt that my running got better as the weekend progressed, but now everything is covered in snow and my running is mostly done for the year. My next race will be the Buffalo Turkey Trot which I will be running for the tenth straight year.

An International Marathon

One week ago Eliud Kipchoge ran a marathon in under two hours, so I decided to try and run one in under five. Unfortunately I was not quite as quick as Kipchoge and didn’t make my goal, instead finishing the Niagara Falls International Marathon in 5:19:18.

This was a race that took the international part of it’s name very seriously and started in Buffalo and ran across the Peace Bridge to finish in Canada. This was not only the first race I have run with a finish line outside of the United States, but also the first time I have finished a race outside of New York State.

Knowing that I was undertrained I started with a goal of a sub-five finish. I intended to start with the 4:50 pace group, but found the eleven minute miles to feel too slow and after the first mile started moving up. I finished the first 5k in 31:15, and the second 5k in an even faster 29:04. Around the five mile mark I passed the 4:30 pace group and having already ran over the course’s only hill decided instead to push for a PR.

At the half way mark I could feel the miles starting to add up, but I reached this stage of the race in just 2:12:31 so I decided to continue pushing on. Around mile 16 however I hit the wall hard. I didn’t really readjust to try and reach my original goal, but instead immediately switched from trying to PR to just avoiding the DNF. The final ten miles were significantly slower, but I finished.

My next race will be a return to the trails as I will be running the dirt cheap stage race for the first time since 2017.

A short trail race

On Sunday morning I ran the Heather Frazer Boyum Iron Angel Memorial 5k race in Perinton. I finished in 26:30 which is a bit slower than I was the last time I ran the race in 2014. This race is on trails that I run often, and so close that I walked from my house to the starting line.

Compared to many of the trail runs I do, the hills on this course were not all that large, but it is far more elevation than your typical 5k. Given the measured distance (although probably a bit long), there was a bit more of a feeling of urgency in this race. While I have run one other 5k so far this year, my legs much prefer the more casual pace of a longer trail run like the Webster Classic earlier this month.

My next race will be significantly longer as I will be running the Niagara Falls International Marathon in October.

A Rochester Road Race

On Sunday morning I ran the Rochester Half Marathon in 2:06:17. This was slower than my time at the Flower City and Grand Island Halfs earlier in the year, but coming into this race I knew that my training was not up to par.

The race started out with me going too fast as it always does. I caught the 1:45 pace group for the first mile, but at least held back enough to not pass them. By the time I reached the first hill just before mile five I could already feel myself hurting, and knew that I was unlikely to beat my time from last year.

By mile seven the two hour pace group caught up to me, and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to stick with them for too long. I held on to them for a mile, and while I fell back after that I never completely blew up at any part of the run. I wasn’t fast, but I was at least steady. I had fairly even splits over the back half of the course, and didn’t even walk the big hill just past mile eleven.

I had hoped to finish quicker, but overall it was a fair finish for how little training I have been doing. I will have to work a few things out for my marathon which is now a little under a month away. However before that, next weekend I am running another trail race.

Webster Trail Classic

Running through WebsterOn Saturday morning I ran the 10 mile Webster Trail Classic in 1:53:33. This was my first time running this race, and I was the 63rd finisher which made me the median runner in this race.

The Dirt Cheap race in Webster Park has always been one of my favorite courses to run, so I jumped on the chance to run another race that starts in the same park. The course is far from flat, but the hills are not all that steep, so I was able to run the full route.

The middle mile is a loop around the outside of a large field, typically I am not a fan of these sections and prefer to run through the woods. However, in this race it was actually kindof nice to be able to mentally take a bit of a break in the middle of the course.

This is only the third new course I have run so far this year and my inexperience with the path resulted in me first pushing towards the finish line far too early, and then being unprepared to when the finish line finally did show up.

My next race is the Rochester Half Marathon and will be my first road race since the Fourth of July.

Mendon Ponds Trail Race (again)

On Wednesday night I ran the final Dirt Cheap race of the year at Mendon Ponds Park. I finished in 50:41, which is roughly a minute quicker than the last three years, but a tad bit behind my time from 2015.

The weather was perfect, and while it had rained the night before the trails were not quite as muddy as they had been in the past. The steep hills in this park really took me out of my pace, but overall I felt the run went fairly well.

My next race will be my sixth straight trail race at the Webster Trail Classic.

Running at Black Creek Park

On Wednesday night I ran the fifth Dirt Cheap Race of the year. I finished in 45:05 almost a minute quicker than last year.

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.

My next two races will also be on trails as I start September with the final Dirt Cheap Race and the Webster Trail Classic.

Another Run in Letchworth

On Sunday morning I ran the Dam Good Trail Race at Mt Morris Dam in Letchworth. I finished in 2:48:50 which is a few minutes slower than I was last year.

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.

Overheating on Bristol Mountain

On Saturday morning I ran a half marathon up and down Bristol Mountain. My time of 6:01:26 was significantly slower than the last two years I ran this race.

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.

My next two races are both on the trail again with the Letchworth Dam Good on August 11th, and the Black Creek Dirt Cheap on the 14th.

On the trails of Webster Park

On wednesday night I ran a bit over five miles in the latest dirt cheap race on the trails of Webster Park. I finished in 52:39 which is over two minutes faster than the last time I ran this course.

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.

4th of July 10k

On Thursday morning I ran the Lancaster Fourth of July 10k for the ninth year. I finished in 58 minutes which was slower than last year.

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.

5k in Seneca Park

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.

Back to racing on trails

On Wednesday night I ran another Dirt Cheap race, this time at Lucien Morin Park. I finished the race in 41:56 which is a good deal quicker than last year, although a tad behind some past finishes.

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.

A Marathon in Buffalo

On Sunday I finished my second marathon in as many weeks, running the Buffalo Marathon in 4:42:23 which while not as quick as I was hoping for was still 14 minutes quicker than last year.

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.

A trail 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.

A Short Trail Race

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.

Grand Island Half

On Saturday morning I ran the Grand Island Half Marathon, and was a bit slow finishing 24 seconds over the two hour mark. This was a real disappointment finishing six minutes slower than last week.

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.