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The Slowest Half Marathon

On Sunday I ran the Flower City Half Marathon for the fourth time and finished with the slow time of 2:10:55. This is disappointing because I have set a PR in this race every other year, and was even a minute behind my time from the 2014 Buffalo Half.

Given that my weekly mileage is in the single digits, and that my 15k race from a month ago implied the exact pace that I ran, it was still a disappointment.

I started out the race with the 1:45 pace group. However, while I usually need to hold back to stay with a group through the first few miles, I instead found myself pushing to keep up. After the first mile, I realized that my pace was not sustainable and I fell back. The 1:50 pace group passed me before the 5k mark, and the 2:00 pace group passed before the 10k point. After that opening mile, I feel that my pace was actually pretty steady the rest of the way. The only exception being that I was a bit more prone then usual to grab a drink from the water stops as I knew that my time wasn’t going to be great.

My next race is going to be the Taco de Mile for which I have zero expectations, and the foreknowledge that my time will be rather meaningless.

Flower City Duathlon

With temperatures barely above freezing and the Genesee River moving quicker than usual, the kayaking was canceled and I ended up in my first ever Duathlon. I finished the run/bike/run in 2:30:57.

I ran the opening 5k in 23:33 which is a little slower than I have done in the past, but a fairly decent time given that I didn’t feel like I was pushing myself.

On the second stage it felt like I hadn’t ridden a bike in half a year, mostly because I hadn’t. This proved problematic on the third hill when I touched the front derailleur for the first time and my chain fell off. And after fixing it, it fell off a second time five seconds later. After finally getting things sorted I finally gave up any pretense about worrying about my finish time, and was able to simply enjoy the rest of the bike ride. I finished the bike portion in 1:34:51, which while slower than my 2016 time it was also inexplicably three minutes quicker than last year.

For some reason run/bike is easier than bike/run and this showed on my final run which took thirty minutes. While my pace was steady, it felt slow. However given the running is inherently quicker than kayaking this is still the fastest I have ever finished, even if it was in a different event.

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.

Starting the season with a St. Patrick’s Day race

On Saturday morning I ran Johnny’s Runnin’ O’ the Green for the third time. I finished the five miles in 43:09, which is quicker than I was in 2013, but slower than 2016.

While I already knew that I was out of shape, I now have the data to prove it. Now that season has restarted, I will be running the Spring Forward 15k next week.

2018 Race Calendar

With another running season set to start, it is time to start laying out my plans for the year. Unfortunately there is still a lot of uncertainty with my race calendar, but the following races are all within the plan.

Running over the snow

On Wednesday night I ran in the Snow Cheap race in Seneca Park and finished in 31:27. Not only was this my first race of 2018, it was my first run of the year as the single digit temperatures had kept me inside since before Christmas.

On race night the weather was actually quite nice, but the trails were still 100% packed with snow. For the first mile I did ok, as I could run a bit to the side of the path where I could get some traction despite the snow being deeper. Things got worse as the trail narrowed and at the half way point I started falling over occasionally, including a pair of downhills where I didn’t even make an attempt to remain upright.

So overall it wasn’t my best run, but after not doing any races since Thanksgiving I was just happy to be back at it.

Running through 2017

From April through November I ran in 20 races this year. Along the way I set a new PR for both the half-marathon and full marathon distances. I finally ran the corporate challenge, came last in a triathlon, and ran many many trail races.

Hopefully 2018 is just as exciting…

Buffalo Turkey Trot

On Thanksgiving I ran the Buffalo Turkey Trot for the eighth year. I finished the five miles in 40:34 which is a minute slower than last year. This is almost identical to the pace I held for a shorter 5k a month ago.

After 122 years, the Turkey Trot continues to be the oldest race in the country, but it is likely to be my final road race until the spring.

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.

Brick City 5k

On Sunday morning I ran the Brick City 5k at RIT. I finished in 25:15 which is a bit slower than I had been hoping to do, and behind my time from the 2015 version of this race. However in my defense it has been over a month since I ran a road race that was shorter than the marathon distance.

The run started well enough, but having gotten used to the more casual speeds of distance and trail running I could feel it in my legs almost immediately. I did a decent job keeping a pace for the first two miles or so, but was unable to maintain that speed and dropped back to something more casual for the final mile.

My next race will be in early November, back on the trails of Mendon Park.

Completing an ultra-marathon

On Saturday I completed the Can Lake 50k ultra-marathon for the third time, and the fact that I finished the race is pretty much the best thing that I can say about the run. I truly blew up towards the end and finished after 6:48 which is a good bit slower than I was the first two years I ran this course.

At the start of the race I went out quickly, initially finding myself solidly in fourth place, which was very much reminiscent of my start last year. After the out and back, I began getting passed by a few of the other runners, but my pace felt steady and the run was still going according to plan.

The weather had started rainy and later turned to sun, which is opposite of what I find ideal, but I had planed to change my shirt at the 12.5 mile mark anyhow. After the aid station I walked the hill, ran down to the lake, made it to Bare road without incident, and even passed someone going up Bare hill. At this point I was tired, but felt like I had more energy left than at the same point in the previous years so I wasn’t all that worried.

By mile 21 my legs were starting to hurt a bit, but I was still moving well, so I didn’t give it too much mind. My water had gotten low sooner than in years past so I refilled at the 23.5 mile aid station feeling that I was almost done. However a bit past the 24 mile mark is where disaster struck.

My left calf cramped up to the point where I couldn’t move it and I had to stop for a few seconds. When I got moving again, I found that I often had to slow to walk to prevent my leg from seizing (and my right calf got in on the action as well). By the time I was three miles out from the finish I was wholly incapable of running and (far too close to the finish to take a DNF) had to walk the rest of the way.

I really love the final two miles of this course as it winds its way downhill to the finishline, so it was heartbreaking to have to walk this whole section, and made my actual finish a bit anti-climatic.

My time was slower than the past two years, but given how poorly the final seven miles went I fully expected my time to well over seven hours. I don’t have any split times, but given that I managed to stay below seven hours with all that walking indicates to me that I had previously been on pace for a rather solid run.

My next race will be one-tenth of the distance, next week at the Brick City 5k.

26.2 Miles through Rochester

On Monday I ran the Rochester Marathon for the fourth straight year. I finished the course in 5:21 which isn’t that fast, but given my lack of preparation was actually far better than I expected.

Coming into the marathon under prepared, my plan was to take things slow and just survive the course, to walk the uphills even when they came in the early miles. My dad was running the half, so we stuck together through the start of the race and passed the 5k mark at 31:36, which actually would have lead to a great time if we kept it up through the miles (and hills) to come.

We got separated at a water stop near mile four, and I walked my first hill just short of mile five, and my second just short of mile six. The next next three miles were a bit boring over a slow incline, before dropping through the river valley again and heading to the turn around point. I reached the half way point in 2:22. I kept this pace through mile 17, walking the steeper hills and taking gatorade at each stop, but otherwise jogging at a steady and consistent pace. For the next few miles I pushed on with a run/walk approach where I would stretch out the runs for any section that included a bit of downhill. Also as it got later in the day the temperature began to rise.

After passing the turn around point at mile 24 I knew I was in the home stretch and dropped into the final (and steepest) downhill of the race. I over extended my right leg a bit and felt a twinge in my leg. Thankfully I was already close to the end. I walked the large hill coming out of middle falls, but given my current pace this didn’t really set me back too much. At this point I was close enough to the end to want to push to the finish, but my leg would occasionally seize up and hold me back. With half a mile to go I decided to just go for it anyhow and run through the pain to the finish line, and ended up with a time that was actually quicker than where I though I was going to finish.

Despite not feeling that quick, my time was faster than last year, and only two minutes behind my pace from 2015. It was far from the disaster that it could have been while still being almost an hour slower than the Buffalo marathon earlier in the year.

My next race is the Can Lake 50k ultra-marathon in early October. Thanks to an upcoming vacation in California, I am not going to be all that well prepared for that on either.

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.

Running through Durand Eastman Park

Wednesday night I ran another trail race through Durand Eastman Park. I finished in 42:06 which is a PR for this course.

In the three years that I have been running this race, I am fairly certain that I have yet to complete this course without at least one wrong turn. Still, I finished in 79th place and in the top quartile of runners.

One mile run

On Tuesday night I ran a one mile race at Cobbs Hill Park. This was my first time running the mile since high school, and I was not sure what to expect for a race this short. I have not even ran anything as short as a 5k this year, but I figured that I would give it a go and aim for a six minute mile.

From the start it was clear that this was going to be a sprint, and was not really a pace that I was comfortable with. I finished the first third of a mile at two minutes, which was right on pace but I knew there was no way for me to continue going that fast. I finished the next two laps with a pace of 2:30 each, giving me a total time of seven minutes.

So apparently my mile isn’t quite as quick as it was back in high school. Good thing I plan on spending the rest of the year going longer distances at a slower pace.

Battling at Bristol Mountain

On Saturday morning I went to Bristol Mountain to run a half marathon. Last year I attempted a 50k on this course and did not finish, so this year with less training and a better understanding of just how steep the mountain is, I decided to enter a shorter race.

I finished the half-marathon in 4:22:56 which is by far the slowest half I have ever run. However, given the terrain it was roughly in line with where I was hoping to finish. The time was quick enough for me to place 25th overall.

The race started well, although I was perhaps a little too aggressive on the opening climb up the gravel road. The first two times up and down the mountain are comparatively easy, and early enough into the race that my legs were still fresh. The third climb is tougher, but I made it up and then got to enjoy the single runnable mile on the course.

Last year things fell apart for me on the third downhill, but this time things were better as I kept up a bit of a pace, and didn’t even fall once. The long fourth climb was slow but steady, the fourth downhill was moved out of the woods but not any easier. The fifth time up and down the mountain was quicker in some parts, but slower where there was excessive mud. The weather was nice on race day, but rain from earlier in the week left much more mud and water on the course than last year.

Overall I finished the first loop in 3 hours and 14 minutes, which was shy of my goal of a sub three hour loop, but still ten minutes quicker than my opening lap from last year.

The second lap gave me a hilariously slow 5k split of 68:59, but that is what happens when you put a mountain in the middle of the course. My second time up the gravel road was much slower than my first, as I ended up walking almost all of it. While I was still able to go after the final lap’s downhills with some speed, I had nothing left for the uphill portions. Still I managed to finish in the top half of the field.

Running through Webster Park

I ran the fourth Dirt Cheap race of the year on Wednesday at Webster Park. I finished the trail run in 54:58 which placed me in the top third of all finishers.

This is probably one of my favorite courses to run, but I ended up with a time that was a bit slower than the past two years. Take away a wrong turn and a slide into the mud, and my time would have been a bit better, but I was still a bit off from a course PR.

Running the Corporate Challenge

On tuesday night I ran in the Corporate Challenge in downtown Rochester. I have wanted to run this race for some time, but have previously never been part of a corporation that was large enough to field a team.

I ran the 3.5 mile course in 27:24 which put me in 443rd place. While this is the first time I have ever raced this distance, I had hoped to be a bit quicker. Unfortunately the weather was warm, the course had little to no shade, and the company uniform had be racing in a cotton t-shirt for the first time since high school. While the heat did get to me, I didn’t do too poorly and it was a fun event.

Next week I will continue my three race streak of racing on weekdays by running in the Dirt Cheap race at Webster Park.

4th of July 10k

On Tuesday morning I ran the Depew/Lancaster Boys & Girls Club 10k in 50:57. This was quicker than last year, but a few minutes behind my PR from 2015.

I am never prepared for this race and it is always too hot but I started well, finishing the first mile with a 7:20 split. I mostly held the pace for the second mile, before the heat started to catch up to me. I crossed the half way point in 23:25 and was still averaging a sub eight minute pace at the four mile mark. While I am disappointed in not finishing in under fifty minutes, this was still my second best time after many years of running this race.

I finished in 209th place, and in the top quartile of runners. My next race will be the Rochester corporate challenge next tuesday.

Running a shorter trail race

On Wednesday night I ran the shortest of the Dirt Cheap races at Lucien Morin Park. I finished the run in 38:46, which is half a minute quicker than my time from last year.

This was a PR for this course, and quick enough for me to be the 92nd finisher and in the top 26th percentile.

With my previous two races both taking over four hours to complete, I wasn’t quite ready for the shorter race. I crossed the finish line with a lot of energy, and regretting that I didn’t push ahead with a faster pace. Most of my races over the next two months will also take less than an hour, so I should really give my speed work a bit more practice.

Finishing last at the Keuka Lake Triathlon

When I started this blog I wrote that it would be nice to finish last in a race, and on Sunday that finally came true as I had the slowest time at the Keuka Lake Triathlon. Unfortunately it did not come from pushing myself further, but rather from a lack of preparedness and some problems with my bike.

I knew that I hadn’t put in the practice for the swim or the bike, but was looking forwards to the race as it was fairly short. Then two days before the race, I got an email letting me know that my past self was far too overconfident, and that I had in face registered to compete in the longer distance. I ended up finishing the race in 4:11:36.

The swim portion actually went pretty well. 1500 meters is the second farthest that I have ever swam, only behind the 1.2 miles I swam in the 2015 Peasantman (ironically also at Keuka Lake). My time of 50:50 (while comparatively on the slow side) was very much in line with how I did in my longest swim.

The bike portion is where I had the most trouble on the course. The first ten miles went well enough. However after that there was a two mile long uphill that came just as I was getting fatigued, and where my bike started getting a bit of a vibration. After reaching the top of the hill it should have gotten easier, but it was starting to become apparent that there was something wrong with my bike, and mid-race I was unable to find the problem so I just pushed on. Fortunately the final seven miles of the bike course were all downhill so I could mostly coast into the finish, but at this point my bike was shaking so much that it was uncomfortable to stay in the saddle so even this section was slow.

By the time I got to the run I was solidly in last place, unmotivated, and a bit behind on my hydration. I felt bad on the run, but my time was actually very much in the middle of the pack. Over the 10k run I was averaging 10:42 miles. On its own this would be slow for me, but given that I was already three hours into the race, this was actually much quicker than I was at a similar point into my marathon a few weeks ago.

My next race is Wednesday night on the trails of Lucien Morin Park. Having the next few races being all running, and no biking should help me get some better results.

Marathon PR

On Sunday I finished the Buffalo Marathon in 4:31:44 which is a five minute improvement over my previous PR from two years ago. I had hoped to be a bit quicker, but I can’t complain about setting a new personal best time.

The weather was much better than last year, and I started the race too fast. A bit past the two mile mark I came across the 3:50 pace group and stayed with them until mile six. I felt good during this section, but knew that I wasn’t at a sustainable pace.

I crossed the half way point at 1:58 which is the quickest start that I have had in a full. While I was starting to feel myself slowing down, I reached the 30k mark (in just under three hours) before I had to slow to a walk at any point.

The section between mile 17 and 22 was a bit rough, but after passing Albright-Knox I found a more steady pace. While I managed to power myself to the finish line, my legs didn’t have anything left to give too much of a push at the end. Still, it was my quickest marathon ever.

A run through the woods

On Wednesday I ran the second Dirt Cheap race of the year at Black Creek Park. I finished the course in 53:44 which placed me 104th and among the top third of finishers.

The race was originally scheduled for earlier in the month, but got postponed to avoid ruining some trails that had been flooded. Unfortunately this placed the race just days before the Buffalo Marathon, so I made an effort to take it easy in this race instead of going at full pace.

Next up is my first marathon of the year, on Sunday morning in downtown Buffalo.

Another Half Marathon

On Saturday I ran the Grand Island Half Marathon. I finished in 1:50:36 which is two minutes slower than I was last week. Still it is the second fastest half that I have ever ran.

My main problem in this race is that I started way too fast. I finished the first 5k in 23:42 which was almost a minute ahead of where I should have been. Yet despite the fast start, at the turn-around I was already a minute behind my pace from last week, and just continued to fade from there.

I finished the race in 112th place, which puts me just outside of the top third of all finishers in the race. My next race will be the Dirt Cheap Race in Black Creek Park.