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Category: Mendon Ponds

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.

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.

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.

Three Race Weekend

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.

A Weekend of Trail Running

This past weekend I returned to trail running with the three day Dirt Cheap Stage Race. While this was my fifth time running this event (2015201620172019), somehow this was only my second trail race of the year. As is so often the case, this mid-november race was largely defined by the weather.

Friday night’s leg of the race is a short run in the dark, and the weather was the most promising that I can ever remember for this event. However things went off the rails when my headlamp died only a quarter mile into the course. Eventually I came to a fork in the path, and was unable to see the flags pointing out the turn. After a short wait I followed the next runner with a working light, and fortunately he had a pace rather similar to my own so I followed him closely for most of the trail.

With under a mile to go I found my pace was slowing down, so I made the mistake of dropping back a bit from my friend with the light. The final stretch of the trail was possible to navigate without a light, but required me to slow down substantially to find the trail, and avoid tripping on the downhills. This resulted in me finishing with a rather slow time of 42:18 for the first stage of the race.

Saturday saw the weather take a drastic turn for the worse leaving us to run in a cold rain. This left the trails in a muddy mess, and while I only actually fell once I was left slipping and sliding through the entire course. While Mendon Ponds is often muddy, I have raced these particular trails well over a dozen times and have never seen the trail conditions as bad as they were on saturday. While my time of 56:33 was a little on the slow side, it was actually a few seconds quicker than my 2017 time in the snow.

Given that we received the first snowfall of the year shortly after saturday’s leg of the race, I expected sunday to be worse and was surprised that despite the cold there was no rain or snow. Given how much I struggled the day before, and knowing that conditions were going to be bad on sections of the trail, I decided to treat the race like an ultra despite it only being 11 miles.

The first 4.5 miles of the race are on the relatively drier eastern side of the park, which when combined with an early commitment to walking the uphills left me moving well and felling pretty good through the beginning of the day. The northern section of the race is as flat as this course gets, and I took that fairly quickly as well. After that the final half of the race was back in the mud which had no time to dry from the day before. I finished stage three with a time of 2:18:00 which even with my lower expectations was a bit disappointing.

My overall time of 3:56:51 is the slowest of the five times I have run this event.

With plans to be in Sri Lanka during the turkey trot there is a possibility that this may be my final race of the year, but I may do a 5k in december.

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…

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.

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.

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 the trails of Mendon

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.

Another Trail Race at Mendon Ponds

On Wednesday night, I ran the final dirt cheap trail race of the year at Mendon Ponds Park. This was my fourth straight race on trails, and my third race of the year at Mendon Ponds.

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.

First Trail Race of the Year

On Wednesday night I returned to Mendon Ponds to run 2018’s first Dirt Cheap race. I finished the run in 59:43, which was slower than I wanted.

Going into the run I knew that the trail was muddy, I knew that I was behind in my training, and I knew that the weather was cold and rainy, so I didn’t expect to finish with a great time. Still I was disappointed to be over ten minutes slower than last year.

My next races are the Flower City paddle triathlon and half-marathon.

15K through Mendon Ponds

On Saturday I did my longest run of 2018 with the Spring Forwards 15k in Mendon Ponds. I finished with a time of 1:32:41 which was good bit slower than when I last ran this race two years ago.

For better or worse, I ran the first mile 15 seconds quicker than my opening mile from last week, but was already at least three minutes behind by the time I got to the five mile mark. Part of the problem was that unlike last weekend, the weather stayed cold and never quite became nice. However the real problem is that my weekly mileage is still far too low.

Next weekend is Easter, so I won’t have another race until April.

A Weekend running through the woods

This past weekend I ran the three stages of the Dirt Cheap Stage Race for the third year in a row. However, unlike the past two years this time around I was running through the snow.

I have never really had too many expectations for the opening 5k given that it is a trail race through the dark. This year the weather had me unsure of what to wear, and right before the race I ran back to my car to change into a pair of shoes that are not really for running and a bit too lose. This indecision on my gear was a bit of a problem all weekend actually. It ended up taking me 38:35 to finish a course that was too cold to really be fun.

Running on the trails was much more enjoyable the next day, at least until I lost my shoe in the mud during the fourth mile. My time of 56:37 was slower than last year. Part of this is due to not doing enough training, but dealing with the colder weather and the mud did not help either. For much of the last mile I was unable to really run properly as the mud required me to slow down in order to keep my balance, (and this would be a problem for the final mile of Sunday’s eleven mile run as well).

The final run on Sunday was finally an actually nice day to run through the park. However at 11 miles I know that I was going to have to pace myself, and not give the race quite the same push as I was capable of last year. As a result, my time time was once again slower coming in at 2:10:41. The first half of this run is on the eastern side of the park, where I was perhaps a bit to cautious on some of the hills, but the running was fairly easy. As I got to the second half of the race the mud once again became a problem for me. Incidentally I actually fell after hitting a root around mile 9, but once I got up it didn’t effect the rest of my race nearly as much as being unable to trust my steps in the mud.

My final race of the season is Buffalo Turkey Trot which I will be running for the eighth year.

Final Dirt Cheap Race

On Wednesday night I ran the final Dirt Cheap Race of the year at Mendon Ponds Park. This was my fourth straight trail race and while it didn’t rain while I was on the course, the trail was very muddy which hampered my ability to run some sections.

I finished the fiveish miles in 51:58 which is just 18 seconds off my pace from last year. This slotted me into 74th place and the top third off all finishers.

My next race in the Rochester Marathon which I am severely under prepared for. My weekly mileage is about half of what it should be, so I am keeping my expectations low.

First Race of 2017

Yesterday I ran a trail race at Mendon Ponds as my first race of the season. I finished with a course PR of 48:02 after dropping over a minute from my performance last year.

This finish puts me in the top 27th percentile, and 93rd place.

Coming into the race I felt like I was a bit behind on my training, so I was surprised to get the PR. I did a good job pushing through the hills and mud, but felt drained trying to recover my pace after each obstacle. However, the results indicate that I still have my speed, and it will take a longer race to see if I still have my endurance.

Third straight trail race

14231385_1053778784690746_7275434202921499017_cropOn Wednesday I returned to Mendon Ponds for the final Dirt Cheap race of the season. Apparently I have forgotten how to run on pavement as this was my third straight race on trails, and my fifth straight if you don’t count the triathlons. I apparently have not ran a road race since the Fourth of July.

I finished the course in 51:40 which placed me in 87th place. The course was dry, but that advantage was nullified by the oppressive heat. As a result I was actually a few minutes slower than last year.

My next race is the Rochester Marathon on the 18th. Hopefully by then this heat wave will be gone, and I won’t have to repeat the struggles of the Buffalo Marathon.

Back to the Trails

On Wednesday I ran the first Dirt Cheap Trail Race of the year at Mendon Ponds. I didn’t feel that great about my run, but ended up finishing in 124th place, which is one spot better than I finished this same race last year. Furthermore, my time of 49:18 was also two minutes quicker (although the course is slightly different every year).


Three trails in three days

This past weekend I ran three times to complete the Dirt Cheap Stage race. This was the fourth, fifth, and sixth times that I ran the trails at Mendon Ponds this year.

The first stage was a three mile run on Friday night. While I have run night races before, I was not prepared for just how dark it was in those woods. Difficulty in seeing the trail, turned out to slow me down even more than the hills did. I finished with a time of 33:35 which placed me 84th and in the top 33 percentile.


The second race on Saturday morning was ~5.5 miles and followed a course similar to the Dirt Cheap race in April. This was the muddiest of the three legs, and also the one where I had the quickest pace. I finished in 91st place with a time of 49:18.


On Sunday morning, the weather was actually nice for the final run of the race. This leg was 11 miles through the woods. I decided to carry water with me after that had worked out for the Can Lake 50k. This leg took me just over two hours to complete, and landed me as 98th across the line.


Overall I had a total time of 3:23:38 which placed me in 87th place overall and in the top 39th percentile. Next week, my final race of the season will be the Turkey Trot in downtown Buffalo.

A return to Mendon Ponds Park

11930998_851941311541162_9115350069976101611_cropOn Wednesday I ran my third race of the year at Mendon Ponds Park. While I have now done a number of runs in this park it was my first time on this particular course, and I finished the unknown distance in 48:44. This was good enough to put me in 74th place and the top 29th percentile.

Given that this was the final race in the Dirt Cheap racing series, there is also a set of overall standings for the series. I don’t quite understand the formula that they are using for these standings, but I have finished 75th overall.

My next race is the Rochester Marathon where (despite not having a flat course) I will be trying to improve upon my time from the Buffalo Marathon in the spring.

Mendon Mauler

mendonYesterday I returned to trail racing by running the 12 mile Mendon Mauler at Mendon Ponds Park. The race consisted of three four-mile loops and is by far the longest distance that I have ever ran on trails.

It was a rough course of almost all hills, and even required dodging turtles and horses. I started off fairly well, but by the end I was pretty worn out. This can be seen in my lap times of 46, 47, and 56. I finished with an overall time of 2:31:18 which was good enough for 49th place.

I will be doing a shorter trail race next Wednesday as part of the Dirt Cheap series. My goal is to finish under 44 minutes to beat my previous best time at Lucien Morin Park.

First race complete

Yesterday I finished the first race of the season, completing 4.8ish miles worth of hills and mud in 51 minutes and 22 seconds. This is almost six minutes quicker than the last trail race I ran at Mendon Ponds park.

While the full selection of trails was not exactly identical, the times of the top runners actually seem to indicate that last night’s course was slightly more difficult. Overall I was pretty happy with my result, finishing in the top 35th percentile (versus the 63rd percentile in July 2013).